Wednesday, October 25, 2017

it's so weird how you can like understand that something is true but not really believe it. Like the whole "just apply, you have nothing to lose" mantra that everyone from my mom to my friends to literally my own self has been telling me while I'm stuck in this gap. "Just apply!" they say. "They put up those requirements expecting perfection, but nobody meets those requirements. Just do it! You never know!"

Part of the problem is references. I have four, but I only really ever use three, one of whom is notoriously busy and takes a long ass time to get back to people, but is easily my best and most supportive reference. Can I really ask them to write letters of recommendation for multiple different programs? Not even the same program at different schools, mind you- different programs at different schools. There's a rotation program here I'm interested in, that I've been told to apply to even though I just BARELY don't meet the GPA requirements (I have a 3.4, they require a 3.5 or higher). There's a grad school which accepts ALL applicants into a rotation program halfway across the country I'm interested in. I've considered a couple of postgraduate certification programs. I've been trying to pursue the traditional grad school route with very little luck. There's a lab tech kind of program here that I just found out today has a master's program, which you can technically apply to without an approved supervisor (the deadline is November 15 for the winter term I think, so a little late to try and find a supervisor).

So yes in theory I could just... apply to things. I could just throw my hat in the ring. I am fortunate enough to have enough to cover the application fees. Except... I have asked these references to help me about 50 times each, and I am so worried I am becoming a burden to them because none of those 50 things have worked out. Not a single job as a cashier, a waitress, a salesperson, nor a job that actually uses my B.Sc. Half the time those opportunities simply just don't work out for me and I never have to give them my references.


I don't know what next step to take.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I don't really have a title for this it was just a realization that didn't really fit anywhere except for here.

I keep feeling like shit because I don't have a job yet, I haven't gotten into grad school yet. I can break down for myself how this is disqualifying the positive because I have had grad school interviews that went in a promising direction and how I've barely scratched the surface of where I could pursue grad school, not to mention it could still be a possibility in the future if not now so I'm magnifying the problem to unreasonable proportions. I've had job interviews that didn't work out but had employers say they would keep me on file- whether or not that's true will be told by time I guess. The support I'm getting from my parents is being offered without guilt, and I know they would have told me to come home and work for my dad if they really didn't approve of what I'm doing.

The thing is... I keep telling myself once I get a job or a grad student position, I'll feel better. The other day, I remembered: I was depressed when I was in school this year, even though some days now it feels like I'll feel better if I'm in school having something to do. I also remembered: I had a job last summer and was depressed then too, constantly convinced I wasn't doing enough and nobody there really liked me and that the few really tasteless comments I had made at the beginning of the summer were well remembered by all and used against me. So no, getting into school or work isn't going to solve this depression for me.

I honestly still can't believe this is my life right now, I'm volunteering and living off of savings and my parents. It sounds pathetic. I keep thinking it is. But I think this is just an overcompensation. I mean, I have friends who still live at home. They are, technically, living off their parents in that way. Do I think less of them? No, they are doing what they need to do. Am I better than them? No. Am I worse than them because my parents are able to offer more/different help? That doesn't even make any sense- of course not. My situation is what it is, discussion of privilege aside (that is to say, I am enormously privileged to be living as I am right now, and I recognize that I have not earned this, and that others do not enjoy this standard of living and they have not earned that treatment either; I receive this life unearned, and that is a value judgement on societal structures and not on me as a person). My situation just is. It doesn't make me good or bad, lazy or productive. It also doesn't make me depressed.

Sure, it's disheartening to be out of work, but I was disheartened in work too. My depression will always find a way to tell me I am worthless, and it will not be logical. If I have a job, then I'm not working hard enough. If I don't have a job, then I'm worthless and lazy and a loser. This doesn't make any sense.

Honestly, I have my friends to thank for this more than myself. My friends have pointed out to me: this won't last forever. You're allowed to enjoy this period of your life even as you look for work. Maybe instead of rushing back to school to take open studies because it's all you know how to do, you should just figure things out instead.

Even as I feel like life is passing me by, it's happening. I don't like to believe this is my life because to face a reality where I graduated and have done nothing but volunteer since is too painful for me because of the distorted thoughts I have about it.

This problem is far from over; even after writing this post and trying to remember to go through the motion of deconstructing these thoughts on paper as they happen, I still feel like I am worthless, that I am a hopeless loser, etc. I know these thoughts are illogical and false and entirely created and yet I still feel on some level that they are deep and unalterable truths about my life.

I don't really know what else there is to say except that I'm still here and struggling, but at least that's better than doing nothing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I keep thinking about summer

It mystifies me how I spent 4 months doing almost nothing. I finished my finals, moved into the crapshack, and... was. I applied for a couple of jobs, I know, I got a volunteer position at the science centre, and I did that faithfully. I visited home, I went to a shakespeare in the park thing. I went to a food festival and a carnival. I went to the woods, a couple of times. I went to the gym, a couple of times. I wrote an essay applying for status as a special student and was declined. I was declined from a graduate position. I was delayed for another. I was rejected from a waitressing job. I was rejected from a lab position.

I remember bits and pieces from the summer in horrifying chunks. Buying my own dresser from IKEA and taking three days to assemble it, getting stumped at the step where you had to join two halves together and get about 8 pieces to line up at once- after trying to do it myself and hearing a crunch from one piece, I gave up. It got together eventually and then I unpacked my clothes. I also unpacked the supplies on my desk... but never my jewellery, and only a couple of pots and pans (which were mishandled by my roommates). I remember having to clean everything though, before I could move in- vacuuming as best I could with the shitty vacuum supplied, cleaning literal piles of fine silt off of furniture. On my third day there I was eating fried rice in bed when a bug larger than my pinky nail crawled out from underneath me somehow. I trapped it under a glass jar on my desk and didn't deal with it until I moved out.

At some point I reasoned that working at the desk and keeping my computer there might make me more productive. I'm not sure why I thought that would work, since it didn't. It was probably good for me to be sitting with better posture, I guess, and good for me to get out of bed. Lord knows there were days when the only reason I got out of bed was for food, and even then it was begrudingly since the kitchen was upstairs- an apartment with three floors is never a good idea. I remember a lot of lying in bed, scrolling through my phone until I ran out of content, adjusting and readjusting when my neck was uncomfortable. I remember getting irritated by my greasy hair, starting at the edges on the first day and gradually having that itch move closer and closer to my core until I finally gave in and used the shower that didn't quite drain properly to have a shower, four days later.

I remember my graduation. Sitting in the auditorium, listening to speeches I don't remember, watching name after name get called and listening for friends I knew so I could cheer a little louder. I remember that I didn't take my family up on the offer to stay with them and wishing I had. I got ready alone in my room, in the full length mirror, makeup next to me on a makeshift stand consisting of three empty shoeboxes that once held the desk supplies. I covered a painful, deep zit and hoped it wouldn't show on the photos. I tried my best to contour my chin, doubled by months of eating white cheese popcorn and doritos for dinner, and make my face, grown rounder for the same reasons, appear more like it used to look. I remember going out for dinner and enjoying it but wishing that my graduation had been a bigger deal. It was just sort of something that... happened.

The bigger deal was when I was driving my boyfriend home to get his things so he could stay the night and we pulled over to watch the sunset. While we were sitting there, snuggling as best you can in a car with a centre console, I admitted that once I had very different plans for that evening. Once upon a time I had told myself that if I made it to my grad, that was the last big event I really needed to see, and if I hadn't gotten into grad school by that time, I'd kill myself. June 13 was my Death Date. I wasn't supposed to live beyond it.

It's been 106 days. Maybe 107 by the time I publish this.

I didn't kill myself. My boyfriend came over and spent the night, and during the summer we also went camping again, I saw my dogs again, and I had a friend recommend a book to me that helped me get out of the worst of it. On our two year anniversary, my boyfriend and I celebrated together by spending the day together and spending the night together in my new apartment. The one I now share with my little sister, who got into school here. I'm responsible for picking her up after her night class and her choir practice. Who would be doing that if I wasn't here?

So maybe I spent a summer in a crappy little room with crappy blinds on big windows that faced a busy street and were always so noisy. Maybe I spent hours sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed wearing as little as possible eating frozen fruit and orange juice blended together because it was the only way I knew how to stay cool. Maybe I joined a gym and for the first month went only three times. So maybe my landlord was a crazy psychotic bitch intent on threatening me for money and not paying her rent to her landlord, who was incompetent and lazy. So maybe the place was dirty- in desperate need of TLC beyond what I have the professional know-how to provide or the responsibility to fix. Maybe I spent four months cooking without a microwave. Maybe I spent four months avoiding my roommates if at all possible- staying in my room when I heard their footsteps in the kitchen.

I got out of there. But I still think about it.

I was already depressed when I moved into a depressing situation. That's what I get for leaving the apartment search to the very last minute I suppose. But the memory is such a stain now- I don't remember a lot of good about this summer. Mostly a lot of bad, a lot of being hot and sweaty, the night I stayed up all night and then couldn't sleep because the blinds didn't block the sun at 5 AM and the traffic started at 6. A lot of feeling miserable and worthless. A lot of paranoia- does my landlord have a key? Will she come back? Where's this missing item- did I misplace it or did someone take it? Am I ever going to see my damage deposit again? How am I going to explain this gap to employers, or potential graduate supervisors? A lot of feeling like I was just burning money, pissing it away by lying around doing nothing in the city instead of just sucking it up and moving back home.

For all the terrible that was my final year at school, this summer was a thousand times worse.

-swegan

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Guess who hasn't written a word of any book since that post lol

You know what I have done? Absolutely nothing! Somehow! Two job interviews, neither of which worked out (but one of which I know for sure was not my fault... the other people just never got back to me ever and sometimes no answer is an answer ya feel)... two prof emails, one of which actually DID work out recently after I thought the prof had left me in the lurch. I finally got the insurance issues with my car sorted out. I ordered winter tires. I refilled my prescriptions. I found out I no longer have health insurance. I now have to pay full price for all my prescriptions. Did you know the birth control patch is $11/patch?

I've read a bunch of books. I mean, not compared to some people I know who read religiously, but compared to what I have managed to read over the past four years it's a lot.



I feel so stagnant. Almost everyone around me is in school or is at least...really, actively trying for something, with a job in the meantime. The other day I considered doing a degree in medical lab science and my parents' response was "I thought you wanted to do medical genetics" and "We just don't want to see you throw away your potential because you think you can't do it" like ok lol preeeeeetty sure a 3.4 won't get me into med and you guys just don't understand the system AT ALL but nope this is just me not thinking I'm good enough, sure.

I mean like. I do still want medical genetics. But like. I do want other things to. I still want to write a book, in theory. I'd still like to work. MLS is appealing as something I could feasibly get into that is y'know like ACTUAL JOB TRAINING for a job that is NECESSARY IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM and is something we have ESTABLISHED I AM GOOD AT but


I know. I know someday I will look back and I will think wow! Why did I think that was hard? Everything turned out all right! But, future me, you arrogant asshole, I can't see what's going to happen here. I don't see how I work my way out of this. I can't see the path to Something while I'm wandering in the midst of Nothing. If time travel IS possible I'd really appreciate a sign for what it is I need to do to get out of this mess. Or just some borrowed motivation would be great.

I mean everyone has to learn what rejection after rejection after rejection feels like right? Well, if you haven't gotten there yet, let me tell you firsthand that after being the sort of kid who never ever failed at anything ever, it fucking sucks. I wish my first exposure to failure had been at the age of 10 or something so that I could have dealt with it in my developmental years but instead here I am, a week short of 22, 12 years later and STILL failing for the first time! Astonishing.



It's been a bad week. It's so hard to keep myself afloat, it's so hard to keep trying to keep my brain in check and my thoughts where I want them. I just had control of them and now everything's changed and shifted around me into a new situation I don't have a pattern of control to deal with. I went to the gym three times this week and have started actually monitoring what I eat in an effort to lose weight because being depressed let my weight get out of control and in this wack ass situation I'm in where I feel entitled to complain still somehow, this is one thing I have power over.


I really just want something to work out or for some epiphany or motivation to hit me. I really, really need a win and it's only been a month. How long is this going to last?

-swegan

Thursday, August 10, 2017

But like what would you do if money were no object

First of all, buy a new computer, since I wrecked this one by accident. Sure, it still WORKS, but the screen resolution is shot, it probably can't be fixed without taking the whole thing apart and costing a fuckton of money, and I have to use it on a perfectly flat surface or the screen can't really... adjust. The second thing I'd do is write a book.

Oh, wow, that's it, that's your life's purpose? No, probably not. Just that, if I wasn't worried about money for living- rent and other bills, and light expenses for fun- as well as all the money I just spent getting my B.Sc, I'd write a book. I mean, even with that as an object- the book can be about genetics. I don't really care what it's about. But if I could spend my days neck deep in a manuscript- up to my ears in either research or character and plot design- I think I'd enjoy that. It would fulfill my creative outlet. It would technically be following the advice of "think about what you enjoyed doing as a child, and do that now."

To be more specific, I'd go back to school first. I'd get my B.Fa or something, or at least take some fucking classes. Let's be real, I'm not a bad writer, but I did just spend the last four years being trained in a very particular type of writing that's not very fun to read. To be fair though... the best way I found to write it, and my presentations, was by thinking of them as a story. They need to flow. The thing you say next needs to build on the things you just said, needs to make them intertwine together. Those things you just said need to add up and you need to explain the math. That's all a presentation is, that's all a fucking scientific article is. We know x fact from these studies and Y fact from those studies so we decided to look at Z. We tested it this way, this is why. This is what we would have done if money/time/physical possibility weren't in the way. This is what we found. Here are the numbers. We quantified it. The end. Of course in order to get there you need an awful lot of background knowledge and even more patience, but it's really pretty simple.

When I was little I said I wanted to be an artist. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I didn't know. I thought for the past few years that I wanted to be a scientist and I still think that would be nice. The thing is now I've given five or so different people a different answer about what it is I am doing because people don't really like you very much if you tell them you're just figuring things out. I know it's a luxury to be able to do that, but god, does it really make me that horrible of a person? I just got an undergraduate degree, can I chill for a second?

The problem with me is that when people ask what I want to do I don't have an answer. I don't have a dream. I don't even have a goal, which is I think what most people pursue because we don't all have a dream that has concrete steps. I mean, when I think of my friends in nursing- is that really their dream? Or is it just a goal? I feel like it's the latter- but at least there are concrete steps they can take to get there. If you don't have a goal you just sort of... drift.

And of course there are people who are invested in my decision. I wish I was completely independent. I wish I had that freedom. But as it is I feel there are people who deserve a little input if I'm going to keep asking for their help like this. People who will not pay to send me back for another undergrad because... god, what a waste of money if that doesn't work out. I'm an investment and I want to be a good one.

I know, I know... it's possible to write a book while doing other things with your life. I could get a job- any job, really- or even go to graduate school like I've been telling everyone I want to, and write a book in my downtime. I'm not in any rush, I don't even know what I'd like to write about, so I'd obviously have to start with just learning to write again. The club I made at school would probably still let me come to meetings, and they're going to have a much easier time arranging those with fewer politics and general starting-out struggles in the way. I could benefit from my own legacy. I could take other classes not from that school, classes that might be a hell of a lot cheaper; I could read books about writing and publishing, I could just read books in general to figure out what kind of one I might like to write.

What my parents always told me-- their poor silly daughter who thought that writing books could earn a living!-- was that I could do something else (something that makes some money so she can live, oh please) and write in the meantime. As awful and practical as that advice was, I think they were probably onto something.

So like-- there. A project for this year, whatever the fuck I choose to do with it. Write again. Learn to write again. Write about whatever the fuck you want, wherever you want, however you want. Find a community in it. And hopefully figure out something I could write a book about.

Putting it out there would be scary, but I think I kind of have to do it. Maybe I won't be done until I'm like, 35, but I guess there's no point in rushing it. Being published would taste just as good at 23 as at 35 as at 68.



Some part of me thinks I'll feel differently in the morning. We'll see. I feel, though, that this doesn't have to be the right answer- or the only answer. There's a lot of room in my life for things to want to do.

-swegan

Monday, July 3, 2017

BE MAD

Look, to start off, I really do like the mindset of "don't let yourself get mad about things you can't control." That's a pretty general summary, but it is a good philosophy. There isn't much point in getting steamed up about the fact that, I don't know, your favourite chips aren't in stock, you dropped a nice mug full of hot tea, that someone stole one of your shoes from a gym locker (I really suck at examples here). Being mad in these situations isn't going to fix anything. It's not going to get you those chips. It's not going to fix your mug or clean up your floor. It's not going to get your stolen shoe back. It's exhausting and unpleasant and worthwhile to avoid getting mad when it has no legitimate purpose... just that I think people take this too far.

I'm not trying to call anyone out here, either, but I'm so tired of being told, when I am angry and upset about something stupid, that "it's not worth it to be mad." I know that. But guess what? I'm mad. I'm already there, I need to deal with it, and you are not helping by saying this. In the future, could I proactively try to prevent myself from getting worked up? Sure. Is it realistic to expect that I'll be perfect at that? No. Furthermore... it's not always bad to be mad.

I saw a critique of this once somewhere. Someone pointed out how ridiculous it was to focus on trying to cultivate happiness and only happiness. It's a good goal to try and be grateful and see the positive in things, but it's unrealistic to expect that your only emotion is happiness. Newsflash: humans have emotions and we literally can't change that. I agree with the viewpoint expressed in the critique: it is far more useful and worthwhile to deal with your emotions and manage them so that they don't get in the way of your life than it is to try and change them or force them to be something they're not.

The OTHER facet of this is that sometimes emotions like anger are useful, and complacency/ "not letting it get to you" are not. We all know I'm deeply interested in feminism and the feminist movement. That's only become MORE obvious now that I'm out of school and able to do whatever I want. I spend a lot of my day engrossed in feminist analysis, trying to make myself think. I haven't figured out how to make it useful yet, but it's fun and I really enjoy it, and I feel lucky to get to spend so much time engaging with it. One thing I heard recently on this front was someone expressing frustration that women are not mad. "I want women mad, I want us furious." (I'll try to find the credit again; I really liked the post). The post was in response to "choice feminism"- the idea that anything a woman does is OK if she "chooses" to do it. This approach acts like all women make choices in a political and social vacuum, and that apparently they were raised in this vacuum too. Obviously there's nothing inherently wrong about liking to put on a faceful of makeup, but I'm deeply suspicious of the idea that only women like to do that just for themselves. (And that's not me saying women can't think for themselves... but we're all products of our environment, myself included, and it's useless to pretend otherwise). Their argument was that because of this kind of analysis replacing earlier feminist analysis which was extremely critical of femininity and the female gender role, women are now complacent in their own oppression. And they didn't want women to be that way- to think "oh, well, if she chooses to wear makeup it's her own choice." They wanted women to think "why the fuck should I have to wear makeup to look professional, but a man doesn't? Why is that standard in place? It means countless more hours of time and money put into getting ready over my lifetime. That's unfair!" and people tend to be mad when things are unfair (even in cases where things aren't unfair for them in particular). AND THAT IS FINE AND GOOD AND USEFUL. Anger can be a good motivator. Anger causes rebellion. Anger can cause revolution when used correctly.

Which is why I don't feel so apologetic for caring about this shit so much. So many people tell me they don't get involved because it makes them too upset to think about. To which my response is... yes. And it's fine to know where your limits are, take breaks, remember that not everything is bad and that progress has been made. But that progress wasn't made by people who were happy with the way things were. Yeah, this shit makes me angry. But I'm angry because it's unfair. That seems, to me, like a good reason to be steamed about shit.

Of course, women's anger (or really any emotion beyond happiness) is written off as hysteria and we all know that people who are angry about things are always too clouded by their emotions to be clear, rational, or correct about what they're talking about... which further complicates the matter (and also makes no sense. I'm mad about GMOs being labelled as Bad And Evil to the point that companies produce "guaranteed GMO free" products to make money because it makes them Look Good.. but that doesn't mean I don't have a point).

I'm just really done with complacent feminism that insists that everything is fine and women are Free Agents Making Choices With Complete Freedom now and it's all good, you guys. Fuck That. I'm mad, I'm going to always be mad, and I want people to know that it's okay to be mad, I'm mad with you. Your anger can be powerful and a force for positive change, if you figure out how to use it.

Friday, June 2, 2017

This is failure

I did it. I've failed. I slipped up. I fell.  There is a path laid out for people like me that I wanted to follow and I fucked it up.

What I'm referring to here is the whole research path. I was doing really, really well: back to back summers of research experience, undergraduate research courses, all that. I've graduated with an excellent GPA, I have great references.

Yet here I am

The fact that I spent this past year wanting to kill myself on an almost daily basis from November onwards if I did do this is really something, because I'm very clearly still here. Like... this is what I was so afraid of. And yeah, it sucks. No one wants to hire me. I'm paralyze with fear about what happens if I procrastinate, which makes me procrastinate. All I want is more time- more classes to take. I pushed myself to just GRADUATE, GOD DAMMIT. In a little over a week, that's gonna happen.

I've applied for a lot of jobs, but I haven't been doing it daily. I've made lots of cover letters, and spent so long sitting on them convinced they had to be perfect that I've lost out on opportunities I maybe could have gotten. The longer I wait, the more creative I will have to be with my explanations. And when they say there's a stigma against mental health, what that means is that if a potential grad supervisor asks "why didn't you talk to me in January?" I could say "I was dealing with a chronic medical condition that required a change in treatment" if that were the case, but I can't say "I was too busy trying not to kill myself out of an intense fear of the unknown that has manifest itself into a depression in me" because that makes me a bad candidate. I can't tell people I didn't talk to them because depression made me numb and useless. That's the stigma.

I thought finishing school would make things better, and it has in some ways. I'm not stressed anymore. But in other ways, it's worse. I have no routine now, and I thrive on that. I was easily able to make it to class and to the lab. I lived on a meal plan, so even if I didn't have the energy to cook, food was there for me, so I ate regularly. Now, I have no routine. Some days the only thing that gets me out of BED is my boyfriend asking me to come meet him for lunch. Some days that's the only food I eat that isn't some kind of shitty junk food crap from my bed. And yeah, there's nothing wrong with junk food, but when all I eat in one day is brownies and popcorn, I'm not taking care of myself. The only thing I can seem to manage to do is drink enough water.

So yeah, I kind of feel like I've failed.

This is the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE I have failed at something. I am at such a weird crossroads. I don't know what the best road is and everyone seems to have a different opinion. My dad says I should just focus on grad school this summer and volunteer if I can, but don't worry about working at McDonald's or whatever, because that won't look good on a CV since it's not relevant to what I want to do later in life. My mom thinks I should get a job in the meantime, but keeps encouraging me to apply for ones that are a little cushier than waitressing or retail- jobs I am never quite qualified enough for. My boyfriend keeps telling me to go to a mall and hand out resumes, or apply online, and focus on grad school at the same time. Everyone seems to think their option is best and I don't know what to do, and now the option of more classes has come up. It's all I want- all I know how to do is be a student.


And I'm sitting here writing this when there's a dance going on. I completely gave up on swing dance this semester, just stopped going to meetings, to dances, to practices... I let myself slip away because it was easier, because I did not have the mental energy and didn't want to force myself. I still have to shower before I can go, so I'll be late, but... god dammit, if I show up, that's worth something, isn't it? That's me trying to claw my way back, right? That's something.

So sure, it's failure. It's not scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel failure. It's not the worst I could do. It's not the worst I will face in my lifetime. And I know here I will be defined by how I get the fuck back up again. And if that means it takes me three months to find a job and seven potential supervisors at every school I try to apply to because the first six don't like my explanation of why there's a monthlong gap of nothing then that has to be okay. If that means I have to spend money going to therapy with a psychologist because my thought patterns are broken that's okay. If that means I have to run even after I read an article saying it's not good cardio because I actually like to run, that has to be okay. If that means I show up an hour late to a dance that probably won't last that long, that has to be okay.

I have to try.