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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'm still unemployed

God, ok, I know everybody thinks gosh, wouldn't it be great if I could just sit at home all day and watch Netflix? That would be the best. Which I think says more about our work-life balance, but hey, I can't really comment on that at the moment. But god, you really have to be careful what you wish for, because I am so bored. And lonely. And I know my roommates are probably decent people who don't care about this but goddamn it sucks to be the one roommate with literally nothing going on. Where's swegan? Oh, in her pajamas. Still. Why? Because she has no job, no classes, no volunteer things going on (until tomorrow, anyway, and that's if I can figure my fucking car situation out) (long story short my car is a huge fucking mess thanks to some bitch that hit me back in SEPTEMBER but nobody knew it was a mess until now and now it's "unsafe to drive" so I have no car and this CITY IS TOO BIG TO NOT HAVE A CAR)... I am the lazy roommate.

I mean, I've been DOING stuff still. I leave the apartment once a day. I built a dresser. I panicked and washed every machine washable thing in my apartment yesterday after a bug crawled out from underneath me ON MY BED. Not the kind of bug where there's just one bug, either. Not that I've seen any more-- but that was my day yesterday. Maybe if the fucking idiot bitch I rented this place from (the subletter, not the landlord) had bothered to, I don't know, clean ANYTHING before she left... that's a whole other can of worms not discussed here, my "sublandlord" being the hugest bitch on planet earth. Thankfully once she moved out I discovered her other roommates hate her too, and so love me by default, and that the landlord doesn't like her on top of that. But anyone who tells someone to "pipe down" when they point out that possession at noon does not mean possession at 2:30 and then straight up threatens them with homelessness after is not someone to deal with lightly ("you'll pay me now or you'll hand over the keys until you do" says the idiot bitch who forgot to ask for payment before throwing the keys across the table at me and saying "here's your keys" before leaving for 2.5 hours.... like....? you're not that smart are you). Supposedly we're getting the locks changed soon. She owes utilities since November. That kind of person. Anyway.

All of this just reeeeeally makes me want to be back in school when everything was simple and I had nothing to worry about except things I knew how to deal with. I don't know how to meal plan, at all. I'm literally cooking just for me now, which is nice since I have leftovers for DAYS and can experiment because no one will suffer except me. It's less nice to think that I'm going to end up wasting food before I figure my shit out. Oh, and our microwave's broken too... this place is honestly a mess. There's a light that's been burnt out possibly for years on some very dark stairs. The carpet hasn't been vacuumed in a long time, and the vacuum does sfa. There's literal, actual mould in the dishwasher, which by my roommate's own admission "doesn't work very well, so just rinse your plates first." All of which makes this place sound like a dump, but it's really very nice and in a very good location, so... can't win em all?

I wish I was 10 again and worrying about the Great Email Scandal of Fifth Grade. At the time I was so worried that would follow me forever. Sometimes I think of it to give myself perspective. That, and the time I cried during a chemistry exam in high school, cried when I lost a scholarship competition last year, cried after my chem 102 exam (chemistry and I have a bad history), cried for literally like an hour when my extended essay supervisor insulted my essay MORALLY, when I cried on the first day of first grade and sixth grade, and when my plans for fulfilling the A part of CAS in high school fell through. None of it mattered in the long run; in fact, almost none of it turned out poorly. But, of course, hindsigh is 20/20, and I hope that one day when I'm stressed out about, I don't know, getting children to school on time, or a big project at my job, or completing my Ph.D, I can look back and remember when I was stressed about this.

I know that adulthood is mostly just stumbling around failing at things until you figure out how the world works, but we could probably produce adults who stumble a little less.

yer pal,
swegan

Monday, April 24, 2017

I'm writing this from a bus

Lucky me, I managed to find a place to live. No, not the bus, but a place just a block away from where I currently live. I managed to negotiate the rent down $100. It has a parking space. It is very close to a grocery store, albeit probably the shittiest grocery store in the city. Unfortunately, I don't get to move in until April 30.

I've spent about 6 hours looking for a job at this point, cumulatively. I applied for four jobs online after writing a cover letter and having someone look at it. I pounded the pavement for 3 hours handing out resumes and making notes, and learning where else I should apply online. Seems big chains don't like people applying in-store these days. Of course, the benefit of applying in-store is that I don't have to have a cover letter.

How the fuck does one write a cover letter to work at David's tea? Especially how the fuck does one do this without any previous retail, hospitality, or service industry experience?

People have been making recommendations to me about where to go where they'll hire me without any experience. Earls, Boston Pizza, the Old Spaghetti Factory. And I've applied at all those places... in person. Despite the fact that the online applications say they only want a resume, the overwhelming advice of the internet (and my personal gut feeling) says that a cover letter is really a good idea. It's just so hard to explain why I think I have good customer service skills when I don't have any experience to back it up that's technically directly relevant. Thank god I bothered to start my own club (with the help of Carina, beautiful angel that she is (I say this because she really covered my lazy ass a lot this year as my co-prez)), because I feel like that looks really good. What evidence do you have that you're a self starter? Oh, only that I started something. It doesn't get much better than that.

But seriously, almost every job I look at says that prior experience is an asset. And if not that, then it's a fucking requirement. I keep saying I wish my parents had made me work a summer at a dairy queen or a store in the mall or something in high school, but the lab experience I gained helped me get MORE lab experience- more summer jobs, more research opportunities, and likely it will help when I look for grad school. But of course, lab experience peters out once you, y'know, graduate. Fuck, the number of additional things I could apply for if I was just continuing as a student next year... almost makes me second guess my decision to graduate on time.

So, this is the way it goes: if I'd gotten some service industry experience, all my lab experience would have been harder to come by (especially since my grades are, somehow, not competitive), and I would have defaulted to service jobs anyway. Since I didn't, I got a lot of good undergrad opportunities, but now that I'm about to graduate with a very bare-bones plan, I'm fucked. Nobody wants to hire someone who's in their early 20s who's never waited a table before, and I know if I was 16 they'd be more willing to overlook that. I mean, 16 year olds have to start somewhere, right?

The thing is, nobody has bothered to tell me what the real world is like. I'm forced to figure it out on my own, like this, like I guess everyone was. But nobody explained to me that a bachelor's degree in science in and of itself is nothing more than a stepping stone. I can't get a job in any scientific field with just a B.Sc. And nobody, and I mean nobody, bothered to mention that while the whole world was encouraging me to go into science because what are you going to do with a degree in the arts? Well, what the fuck am I going to do with a degree in genetics? I have a few options: 1) start my own company. 2) work in an unrelated industry 3) more school. The fact of the matter is that everybody has a bachelor's degree now. Why the fuck do you think it's so much harder to get into medical school?

I guess the point of this post is some advice: university isn't a mistake, but please, for the love of god, do stuff while you're there. If you take 6 years to get a degree, it won't fucking matter. Try and find some internships, or relevant work experience. Volunteer as much as you can, join clubs, take on exec roles, start your own club. And do stuff in the community if you can- volunteer, or even work. Don't just go to school and get good grades- that's important, but it's only one tiny piece. I'm glad I went to school; I don't regret getting a degree. I will find a way to make use of it, because my goal is to go back to school. But I am so, so, so glad that I pursued different and interesting opportunities while I was there. University is full of these things, these chances to get involved, they're literally thrown in your face and so easy to take, so TAKE THEM. Fuck, even my two years with the engineering group were good- it was Management Experience Lite (TM) and now that that same group just launched a satellite, it makes me look even better. Sure, I ended up leaving once I discovered it wasn't for me- but that's okay, because I tried in the first place. The club I co-founded this year might not have worked out either, but at least I would have tried and learned something. And it did work out! And now we have this amazing new group of execs ready to take on the second year of operations, and I get to say- look. My time here meant something. I did something here, I left a legacy at this school, however small. I helped fill a gap that needed filling, and I did it with one of my best friends. How many opportunities are there to do that in the real world? I'm about to find out.


In the meantime, my research project report is still due on Friday and I'm not quite finished. I'm hoping, though, that this recent uptick in blogging is a sign that I can get back to this in my time away from school. Perhaps I can just leave bizarre life advice here every couple of weeks.

-swegan

Friday, April 14, 2017

It's been a while

School has been far more intense than I could have imagined, and this last year has been especially hard for me. I've been doing a lot of intense thinking about what I want to do next year, once I no longer have to work towards a degree. Should I really have shoehorned myself into all these classes in a desperate attempt to graduate in four years? Maybe not. But here I am anyway, powerless to stop it. Despite the fear and trepidation, I registered to graduate, took my grad photos, and have made it publicly known in my social circle that I Am Graduating. And also, that I'm taking "a year off."

I don't even know if I can really call it that, since it's not like I'm taking a year in the middle of a degree. It's become rapidly apparent to me that if I wanted to be in graduate school next year, I would have had to put more effort into finding a supervisor. When I did summon the courage to email one, she encouraged me to explore my options more (and then come back to her if I was still interested- so it's not like she just wanted to get rid of me). I realized as I left her office that she was right. If I'm going to spend 2-3 years working closely with a supervisor, I need to make sure they're someone I want to work with, and also that their research will be something I can stomach. The only thing I'm sure of so far is that I can get behind almost any research- it's all interesting to me, especially translational research. But I know I can't devote the time I need to to that, and to finishing my degree. Hence, the gap year.

It does make sense, I suppose, to take my time and carefully consider this decision. Do I even want to do traditional science grad school? I still think I do, but there are other options out there. Either way, I'm giving myself an academic year. I don't want a year off spent waitressing (or potentially doing something more interesting I can't imagine) to turn into two, or three, or ten. I want to go to graduate school. I know I have what it takes, despite what it sounds like. Geez, she can't even handle classes and planning for her future, some may think. Why does she think she can handle the stress of a graduate degree? Which is something I've thought myself more than once, but honestly... it just doesn't make sense anymore.

I've come way too close to the edge this year, way more than I'd like. Being on the precipice of the rest of your life is completely terrifying. Don't I owe it to myself to take it slow? It's not like I'm graduating and being like "whew, no more science for me!" My degree wasn't a waste of time, it was a learning experience and a tremendous opportunity that allowed me to gain lots of relevant skills I plan to use. I still want to be working in that area. But if trying to pursue the "traditional" path is... not working for me, why not modify it for my life? Pushing myself down that road would ultimately end poorly. I'm choosing myself, and my own life and health, by stopping for a second to breathe.

That being said... is this year going to be sunshine and rainbows? I highly doubt it. Am I going to get rejected a lot? Well, doesn't everybody? The worst thing I could do now is curl up in a ball and refuse to face the world because I couldn't do it "properly." Would I really look back on one odd year as a horrendous mistake that ruined my life? I don't think so. I'm not going into this because "ugh, the real world has GOT to be better than school!" but more because "I need time and space where I'm not concerned about my final grades to make sure that the next educational decision I make is the right one." I'm not going on a year to "see what happens" so much as it's to take time to evaluate my next steps, keeping a goal and a deadline in mind. THAT being said, I don't want to be so rigid that I refuse to let life happen. Obviously having a goal and a deadline will help me keep this year to just one instead of three, but I still don't know what could happen. When I look back at my life as it's unfolded so far, great things have come where I least expected them, and not everything turns out as I expect. That satellite project didn't get me anywhere, but I can still put it on my CV. Deciding to take the leap and pursue undergraduate research paid off in more ways than I could have imagined. Even last summer turned out wildly different than what I expected. Heck, this YEAR did.

My point is: I can't predict where I'm going to be a year from now, but I'm still in the driver's seat. I can still steer, but I don't know what's ahead on the highway. I'm hoping that by keeping my seat buckled, speed limit reasonable, and a destination in mind is about all I can do. I don't know if there's construction ahead that leads me down a side road, or a slow vehicle I get stuck behind, or a gas station just when I'm about to run out. I can't pretend I'm not afraid that all that's ahead of me is a giant boulder blocking my only path, whatever that looks like when it's not a metaphor. But it's not like I can stop driving.



With all of this being out in the open... I'm really trying to think (in between studying for my finals) about what I want to try and accomplish next year. I figured maybe one of those things could be a blog. Sure, maybe no one would read it, but if I could find someone's blog right now full of their experiences on a "year off," especially a year off that's NOT spent teaching English abroad (not knocking that, I just have no interest in doing such), I'd really appreciate it. Maybe this will be the last you hear of me for quite some time, but I hope it's not. I guess we'll see how it goes.

-swegan

(a side note- quick but very heartfelt shoutout to redbeard for helping me through all of this, time after time after time. He's heard the most about it and been unwaveringly supportive, and I appreciate more than he knows)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On getting help

A couple of years ago I admitted to feeling depressed. I was at a job without much to do, so I was bored and felt useless and began to blame myself for the way I was feeling. Nothing would really lift me up like it used to. For 4 months at school, it was just hard to motivate myself, but I figured that was an adjustment period. For the 4 months after, when I was at home for summer, I had no explanation. I tried to ask for help and was told to "think positive thoughts" and this dissuaded me. I went back to school in the fall and felt better and didn't question it.

I'm not sure if it came back again until this summer. Same deal- a job at which I often had little to do, or was stuck doing small tasks. I felt useless and judged, like I wasn't behaving appropriately or saying the right things. At least once a week I would get so overwhelmed by my own thoughts I would just go to the bathroom and cry, and only once was that noticed. I tried to stop hurting myself. Most of the time, though, I felt okay.

This semester was fine, midterms were stressful, but I did well. But as the year wears on I only get more and more aware that this is the end of the certainty of my life. From here on out, it seems, I am destined to stumble around clumsily trying to find a place in the world. There is no script, there is no thing I can just do because it's a common thing to do, like university after high school. Even if grad school technically counts as that for some, the entire process of getting INTO grad school is unlike anything I've ever dealt with before, and last week it all kind of came to a head.

I think everything was set off by an email I got from the very prof I worked for this summer. I wrote to him and asked for advice for applying to graduate school. This is something I'd done with many other profs I knew well enough to ask, and they all gave me the same kind of advice- just secure a supervisor. Email them, get to know their research, set up a meeting, and then you go about applying for admission and grants. This prof, however, went overboard.

The suggestions seem insane to me. Read all the recent research I can get my hands on from these profs, and write a one-pager detailing a project I'd like to do in their lab. Make them want me, email them updates about me presenting posters (which I currently do not have an opportunity to do) or getting my name on papers, or updates about my grades (the example he gave was "just finished the semester with a 3.9 GPA!" which is unfathomable to me). For someone who already feels like she is overloaded by trying to keep up with a heavy full-science courseload, including a course that is a research project and therefore demands daily attention and constant planning, I think it was just too much, and I broke down completely.

Last week was very, very bad. I've never been that depressed in my life. Almost every waking moment was consumed with sad thoughts and unlike before, I couldn't seem to find a way to dig myself out. I didn't do a damned thing all week besides go to class and to the lab, paying attention about half the time. I managed to get into the peer support centre here- which is really just lightly trained students who listen and direct you to other resources. I thought I had finally accepted that I need to see some kind of mental health professional- a therapist, counselor, psychologist, whatever.

This weekend I went to see Freckles' choir concert in her uni city, and now that I'm back I feel... strangely fine.

This, of course, is making it really hard to book an appointment to just even get a consultation at the counselling services on campus. I don't feel like I can accurately explain why I feel I need help when I don't feel like I need help. I got so many things done today. I drank enough water. I even got up early enough to have a shower and make it to class mostly on time (I never shower in the mornings). I just feel... better. And it's so weird.

First of all, it's frustrating, because it makes the whole thing seem fake. You're making this up, it's not real, quit lying for attention, you don't really want to feel that way. But it's like all those destructive, horrible thoughts are still there, just.. in the background. I don't have trouble getting up for class anymore. Sometimes after class I still sit to wait for the between-class rush to die down (if I can), it's still overwhelming. And humming just out of focus are the other thoughts. Jesus, if you can't even handle this much work now, how are you going to cope in the real world? Whiny baby. Oh, poor you, you don't want to do this? Too bad! You're overwhelmed by THIS? And you think you can handle grad school? Grad school will eat you alive if this is too much. In fact, all of real life will eat you alive if this is too much. You're not equipped for life, you're not going to make it in the real world. No good experience and if you don't get into grad school? If you fail? All your future is is struggling to get a minimum wage job and disappointing your parents. And if you're out of school you'll never get into grad school ever and all your hard work will be for nothing. So why even bother trying?

But it's like, this week, I am a little more aware that those thoughts aren't realistic. So I'm able to function. Which makes me feel like I don't need help, and furthermore, that if I were to ask for it, I would be turned away because I don't really need it, until this happens again and it's worse, so I can't ask for help then. I'm so frustrated, I don't know what to do. Was that email just some kind of trigger or something? Did it somehow tap into all my fears at once, overloading my system? And if so, how did I get it out? Was it being away for a weekend? Was it taking some time last week to just... recover? And worst of all: will this happen again? And next time, will it be worse?

I just want to feel consistent here. This rollercoaster is exhausting. And it's not like I'm riding some kind of euphoric high right now either, I just think... well, I'm going to do things. I feel like I'm in denial, and whenever I'm like "well last week you were worried about x, y, z" my brain just shoves that thought into a box and says "Nope! We're not going to contemplate the uncertainty of the future right now! Save it for later!" which is what I have been doing for the past 3 years. Only now I can't avoid it anymore and it keeps pushing its way to the forefront.


I think writing this, though, has reminded me a little of how I felt. Which sounds bad, like why am I trying to induce this in myself? And I'm not. The feelings of last week feel hazy somehow, like I'm feeling them from the outside of the snowglobe where they reside. I can see them, I can shake them around and see what they do, but it's not the same. But I guess they're still there, so that's something.

I promise I'm trying. I'm still here. People know what I'm dealing with. I'm not alone.

yer pal,
swegan

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Jealousy

My roommate from first year got into med school. I know about it because of facebook. And I am wildly, nonsensically jealous of her.

This doesn't make any sense, it's not like I've ever expressed a desire to get into med. It's not like I was trying at the same time she was and I didn't get it. It's not like anything. It doesn't make any sense. And the only reason I can think is that she is- and was- a Pretty Girl.

I think more than anything I still want to be one of them. I want to rewrite my past so I was tall and had boobs in the 8th grade, so I was athletic and popular and still smart, so I got all those awards for having the highest social studies grade and be a three or four star athlete. I want to change it so that I figured out makeup somehow and figured out clothes and came to my adult life looking like the girls who look put together every day.

There's not even an excuse for me anymore. I could do all those things, I know that. This isn't my old roommate's fault; she was always very hardworking and I'm sure that this was no exception. She deserves good things and I'm happy for her. She isn't a bad person. And I could be one of Those Girls too, if I wanted, I could let go of my inhibitions about everything in life and start wearing makeup and dressing myself nicely and fuck, I don't know, going out to drink?


I feel like maybe there's also a lot of pressure on me to want to go into med. My dad is a physician, and I'm doing lab work in a medical science lab, and I guess the other lab I was in was medical science too. I have good grades and a desire to help people and I'm interested in biology and health research. I still feel like I could do it... it I wanted to. Do I want to? I don't know. I do want to do a master's degree, or a Ph.D. I do want to work in science. I've considered a job outside of academia, in industry. I've considered programs to become a genetic counselor and a cytogenetic technologist. I don't really know what I want to do.

And med always looks so impressive- just like law or dentistry would too, I'd imagine. But med always seems to take the cake. Everyone has such high respect for doctors (rightfully so), everyone knows medical school is hard to get into and hard to complete and that a life of work as a doctor is challenging and demanding but also rewarding and part of that reward, I think, is being judged very positively in your community for your vocation. I can't lie and say none of that appeals to me. But I think I need to make a career choice based on the fact that I love the work I am doing and it feels important and rewarding to me. But it still feels like I'm always going to be ranked against my peers that went into med.

I have friends that want to get into med (and I have no doubt they will). Redbeard wants to get into med (and again, no doubt). These people are all smart and talented and hardworking- just like my first year roommate. Just like me, I hope. But I feel like no matter what I do, especially at this point in my life, it's never going to look as impressive. That people will judge them as smarter and more talented and harder working than me (and consequently all the other kids who don't do med or any professional program but instead do research or go into industry, or even teaching, which I guess counts as a professional program of sorts anyway). There's such prestige associated with getting into med, and that's what I want.

It feels stupid but it's human, and I know that. It's human to want to be praised and thought of as a good, smart kid- I want the things I do to reflect well on my parents, too, even though I know it's not my job to make them look good by having their offspring succeed. I know my dad would be happy that one of his kids followed in his footsteps. I know my parents would be able to help me since they're both involved in health careers.

I just... I think about medicine. I think about learning about the body and how it works, and that seems cool. I think about applying that to actual people, and... ick. I think about long days and charts and paperwork, and billings. I know my dad loves his job. I don't think I've ever heard of or met a doctor who didn't love theirs. I just don't know if it's for me and I feel like there's so much pressure on me to keep that option on the fence all the time.

Sometimes I wonder if arts degrees are appealing for that reason. Because maybe if I just got an English degree instead, everyone who knows what my dad does would shut up about asking me if I want to get into med. I know these people mean well, I'm not mad at them, they're certainly not trying to offend. But god, I'm so tired of getting asked and having to answer. They don't react one way or the other when I tell them maybe or just plain out "no, I don't think so." But I can never fully commit one way or the other and it feels like there is always some kind of silent pressure on me to swing towards yes, and I think it's because I'm in a field that's so close already. Do you know how many times in first year I heard biology majors say they wanted to go into med? It's like half the program here has their heart set on being doctors. It's insane.

I think the jealousy too is that like- the hardest part is over, and I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. In med, you have classmates and instructors who want you to stay in the program and will help you out. Once you finish, you can get a job anywhere you want, and it will pay well. You barely have to plan your life out anymore. And that- that- is what I think is most tempting. The security- not just financially, but like, in terms of thinking. I'm sitting here wondering, is it worthwhile to get my masters and then my PhD, or should I just get a PhD, but will that even be useful? Should I bother doing special training programs for biotech? I think I want to work in industry for a while because I like the idea of applying results more than just generating them, like in academia. But what if I take those courses and get in there and hate it? But in academia you have to be so much to the community, you have to teach and research and be involved... Like, if I was just in med, I could just say "all right, now I can just focus on the next two years of class. Then, I can just focus on the two years of"... fuck, is it residency? I don't know how med school works. Then the big decision is specializing, and getting through that training, and more residency, and then you have to start out and deal with hurdles like that but then you just... keep... working. And it feels like you get like built-in job security because we always need doctors. And if you're something special like a highly trained surgeon your job is high stress and high reward and you will always been in demand. Always. Whereas in industry... I'll be competing forever.



I've just had a really bad day, and everything sucks right now and I have one year of my degree left and I have NO IDEA what to do with my life. I know I should just concentrate on my classes and clubs and having a good final year and working hard and learning what I can from my research project. This year I was given opportunities to present which let me learn that I have some good presentation skills, even if they do need a little honing; with help, I was able to design really good, logical presentations and learned what should and shouldn't go into them and that you NEED TO MAKE GRAPH TEXT REALLY BIG and I actually had so much fun with that and felt so confident afterwards. I loved my research project. So maybe I am talented? Maybe? Maybe I'm good at writing too, even if that needs a little honing? I realized the other day when hearing that a program required 3 reference letters that I had at least 4 people I could ask who are all big fancy PhD people.

Maybe I'm doing something right after all??

I still wish lab jobs paid minimum wage, though.

-swegan

Saturday, June 11, 2016

How do I prepare for a lifetime of this

Hey, sexy, hey, honey, hey, sugar, hey, baby, hey, cutie, what's your name? On my way to my very first job interview, walking with that kind of innocence, you soil me.

You're hot, you're a nice piece of ass, good job to your boyfriend- to my boyfriend: "Good job, good on you, nice property, nice piece of ass." It feels good to win a trophy, but not to be one.

Fuck you, you dumb bitch, you dumb cunt, your comment is cancer, you're illogical irrational emotional stupid stupid stupid girl, stupid little dumb girl, you need help, you need to see someone. Feminism is cancer. This movement you have built yourself in, this community this love this group that validates your pain, that listens to you when you are hurting because people hate you for what you are, is cancer. It's a fast growing mass that ruins everything it touches, and it touches everything.

Nothing is safe for me anymore, I've suffered too. Let me in your space, this is mine too, let me in or else you're selfish and I'll hurt you. You have to include us too in every conversation you have, in every thought that floats through your head, because to do otherwise is transgressive.


And for me? This may be as bad as it gets. There are labels you plaster on them they don't get applied to me, there are facts about my body that help me stay afloat in this world I was born into. And I'm still hurting. I'm still afraid, that's what you've done, you've only ever walked in your own shoes, only ever lived in your own head, only ever existed in the world with a body you use to keep me under the water.

It feels far too exhausting to exist in this body filled with pain, designed to be pain. I feel like my sex was a curse bestowed upon me by chance and a chromosome. And to this child, I give, the gift of eternal suffering, attention from those who wish to do her harm, a body that tears itself apart, a body ripe for abuse. And I cast her into a world filled with people who will not just wish, but will, do her harm, will fail to treat her as one of their own, people who will not listen when she asks for more, people who will tell her she has enough already, people who tell her she is too much by asking for any more.

And when she and people like her, people who have been outed and made to suffer, try to build up a better world, those who hurt them will say, let us in or we will tear this apart, and they know there is little they can do to stop them.







I'm so tired of being a girl. I'm tired of wondering who the next man to catcall me is going to be. I'm tired of wondering when I'll run into the next man to talk to me like an object. I'm tired of my pain being dismissed as fake, or real but not real enough to warrant a cure, or any sympathy, or empathy. It hurts, despite the people who do listen, who do build me up and validate and listen and comfort, the people who try to help me heal. And I'm still privileged. I'm still sitting near the top. This is what it's like near the top.

I am not a victim but vile men make me out to be. They shout things at me that victimize me, and those things don't exist in a vacuum. I cannot pretend real things are fake, and their thoughts, their personalities and the world that allows them to be that way without recompense, is real. If the world is so perfect, why are some people still poison?

Nothing about the abuse of my own sex even surprises me anymore, there's no more emotion in my responses, no matter how deep the horrors. I feel as if I have read all the stories there are to be told about the things I should be afraid of.

Catcalls aren't just comments, they're ways of saying "I noticed you, I like you, and you have no way of knowing how well I handle your response, whatever it may be." There is no correct response, and it feels like a nightmare to live in a world where people just like me are victims of crimes that take advantage of the bodies they have and they receive no justice for it, only further violence by a society that refuses to believe monsters like their abusers exist in their own ranks. In that dynamic, of girl and abuser, the lesson learned is always that nobody will believe me, and the abuser gets away with it. And I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who harrassed me until I gave him $80 when I was walking alone in the dark on my way to school? And I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who said "Hey, cutie, what's your name?" To me on the way to my job interview? I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who pulled over in his car after he stopped for me when I was on my bike at a stop sign and I pointed at that stop sign angrily, that man who felt the need to confront me to say "I was just trying to be nice" and made me yell at him that he wasn't driving safely? I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who told my boyfriend, in earshot of me, from the back of a taxi cab, "Your girlfriend's hot"? No. I am not some stupid girl making up sympathy sob stories, I am a girl raised to be on her guard for the incident that sets off more abuse. I have been raised with horror stories that once you are abused, you must spend the rest of your lifetime trying to cope with the fact that you received abuse and not justice after the fact. Fuck you. You don't know the fear I live in every day for existing in public like this.

And you don't know their fear. People have been killed for being like me, but not white, but not cis, but not able bodied, but not able minded, but not what girls typically look like. I am not naive enough to think I have it the worst of all. I am not naive enough to think I am not shielded from some of the world's abuse. And I should not be thankful for that, I should be angry- how dare you treat me better than them? How dare you treat me- treat any of us- different from someone like you?



I'm not here to debate this. I'm not offering up an argument on my lived experiences. I know how they have gone, I know my own story, thank you very much. The comments on this, though I know they will likely remain empty, are not open for debate about whether or not I should be afraid, about whether or not I am smart, about how cringey this entire post is. I know it's bad art, it's clumsy poetry. I never claimed to be an artist; if you don't like what you see, you can leave.

Furthermore, this comment section is not for the issues and the plights of men. This is not your space. Your troubles and concerns are not welcome here. Do not act so entitled as to deserve that like you do with ever other female-created safe space on the internet. I have said this so many times I feel like a robot. This space is not for you. Do not be entitled. Do not be selfish. If you don't like me, if you don't like what I have to say, leave. Nobody is making you stay here.

-swegan