There is no other way that I can describe the past few months (well, 4 months!) than a great void. I have started my first bit of teaching, which has meant that I have spent weeks in an oblivion, trying to figure out my own research in the mean time. Combine that with the stress of Brexit, and I have been asking myself the same question over and over again – what the hell am I doing?
The past months have passes with no trace, and all I seem to have done has been sleep and stress. As I recall, the last time something like this happened was when I was in business college working on one essay and feeling like nothing was going ahead. There seems to be a large void where my life used to be. The days blend into one, and I have very little recollection on what I have been doing in the past weeks. Certainly it feels like there has been nothing constructive going on with everything.
As I am typing this, I am waiting to hear from a student of mine to see if she want to have a supervision today. I had a meeting that was cancelled, and I earlier met one student. Before this, I finished a night shift in my regular job, hopped on a bus and rushed four hours away. Tonight I have to wait until 10 pm to for my bus (it’s now half past two) , I’ll get home nearer one and tomorrow I need to go an abundance of housework, clean, write my own research, and get enough sleep to head out to work on Friday for some overtime. no wonder there seems to be a small black ball of nothingness occurring at the moment!
Take this as what you want. A whinge about my busy life (it is) or a brief mulling about what life is like at the moment. In the end it seems that it is time to pull my fingers out and start working again though.
Goodness me. I have not long come back from a trip to London where I have been discussing the first course I have a more academic role at. On the way back I met up with someone I started my research Masters with – and who will next week have her viva and defend her research.
Where does the time go? It feels like not long ago we all started out respective journeys in at the University, and now look at us. we seems to be getting to do things,go to places… At the same time I am currently still trying to figure out the situation with Brexit and how life will revolve around that. There is a backup plan which is time consuming, and another backup plan which is even more time consuming. Then there is obviously the newest backup plan which is the most time consuming, and which will either offer me a respite from the woes that are involved with doing research of media racism or add to the general frustrations by increasing my workload with things I am probably too dumb to understand (we’re talking complex maths and physics here). But as my perennially cheery ex-colleague said, you can learn complex things, you just have to tell yourself that you can and then throw yourself right in there.
Right now the only thing I intend to throw myself into is the bed, however. Tomorrow is a library day which involves lots of preparation for the teaching session on Friday where I meet the students I will be guiding through their research project. Then it will be back to normality for me – back to the day job. And to the normality of trying to figure out my own next steps. Luckily I have an online peer support group who are aiming for the same thing as I am as my backup pan number 3. Maybe we will muddle through all of this together.
Today, the one thing that I was dreading happened. My previous research plan and my data regarding certain EU nationals and their migration to Britain was discussed, and after some silence the inevitable question was finally uttered by one of my supervisors. ‘What about Brexit?’. Pardon me for inserting a few expletives to the text in the rest of the post, the way.
I do not mind the data collection, and I certainly do not mind the change in my research time scales. I acknowledge that the situation we have the pleasure of living is is politically and socially traumatic, historical and exhilaration. Analytically, this really is a one-in-a-lifetime experience. However, I have been avoiding this inevitable factor in my research for an obvious reason – it hits too close to home.
I am, as I have said several times, one of those pesky EU migrants to Britain. I do not have children, I work and always have, I am educated and more often than not I am not clocked as a foreigner. But like every EU-born person – and a hell of a lot of British people – there has been a feeling of what I can only describe as fear after the EU referendum vote. God forbid you try to discuss the matter with someone or on a public forum, and some.. person will inevitably tell you to fuck off back home. Which I intend to. You know, after taking the tram or the the bus. And after I graduate I might fuck off to another country, thank you very much, because the perk of an education is the way it can take you nearly everywhere. That’s the thing people – it’s a wide world out there and it’s full of adventure.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, there is a real risk in doing research that is emotional. People and guidebooks talk a lot about harm to the research participant, and in some ways the responsibility of the researcher to make sure their research assistants do not suffer any harm. But there seems to be a certain silence regarding how it feels like doing research that is traumatic.
I have so far been able to distance myself from my research because although EU migrants have been mentioned, the focus has been on two groups that are not ones I belong to. But my focus is about to change, and I intend to look at data that does talk about people like me. No, scrap that. It talks about me. It makes presumptions about me, my intellect, my language skills. At the same time, I acknowledge constantly that I have a huge amount of white privilege, the privilege of passing. I should not feel like I am under a threat, yet I do. And there is a real risk that this feeling will increase as I do my research further, read my revised data and really engage with what the press is saying. I already know there is one particular journalist that I hope will get a severe food poisoning from prawn cocktail – I am not prine to interpersonal violence but do think some people deserve a bad case of diarrhea. And yes, obviously that topic made me think of this fantastic video:
ANYWAY – to use those capital letters the Daily Express seems to love – it really will be an interesting and potentially a very unpleasant journey into research that I will start. My supervisors have advised me to take time away from the topic because I have to live in the world as it is, as well as analyse my data and collect it. And in the mean time I need to maybe look into the ethics of research and how can you cope with research that is potentially very harmful to your own sanity.
I was busy pottering around Tate Modern a while back. The new part of it does look amazing, and even after visiting the place for the second time I feel like I have missed much of the art that was on display.
I still have a habit of planning my time off and my trips around different art galleries and museums, but for some reason my own creativity has gone down the pan. And yes, I know that as I type this at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning my creativity should really be directed towards my PhD which is what I am supposed to be writing up right now.
I used to love arts and drawing, but when I realised as a teenager that I was not good enough to make a living out of it, I gave up. Went to a business college instead of an art one, and later went to read totally different things at a University. I currently engage in research that feels somewhat artistic – well, as artistic as researching journalism can be – but there is still a distinct lack of the visual in my life. I have been thinking about how to somehow bring back a more visual approach in my life, and there are some books on art and drawing that are currently sitting on the floor in my room amongst all the books on research and languages I have. And no, I still have not started on my proper studies for my next Korean trip, or getting the basics of Japanese sorted in my head in case I make it there next year as planned.
The big question is about pursuing something when you feel that a.) you’re not good at it, and b.) is not useful. Whether you believe in the Myers-Briggs personality typing, I have tested for many years as an ENTJ. I acknowledge in myself a great sense of not wanting to do things if there is ‘no point’ in doing them, which is where my current lack of creativity partly stems from. Why draw or paint when there is no other reason for it than entertainment? Which also makes no sense to me because I do pursue other things just for the sake of them being ‘fun’. Furthermore, there is no bigger frustration to me than knowing that my capability after years of not drawing does not match what I want it to be. Yes, practice makes perfect, but I have an attention span which is shorter than the time it takes for me to find a pencil in my room.
I admit, with the Brexit and the future being more than a little unstable, I have been even pondering the idea of going back to University full time, this time studying design. But that is a pipe dream. I still have on my Bucket List the desire to attend actual University entry exams where I am from, just to see if I could make it through and pursue a job that was a childhood dream, but also to experience the preparation for it. Although it feels like I have been a student forever – since 2009, in fact – I have not studies full time since graduating with my undergraduate degree. Maybe it is time to consider student life again, who knows.
But for now the question remains – how to inject creativity into my life? I am already in the process of destroying my Hobonichi planner for 2017, so that offers some creative outlet. But the question remains – is there a way to be creative AND academic at the same time when the two do not really match up? DO I even want to match the two together since my research is a cause of so much annoyance and frustration because the topic is emotionally heavy? Should I try and ‘lighten up’ the topic by turning some of it into something more ‘fun’? Answers on a postcard, please..
What can I say? In the post-Brexit chaos where a large quantity of my fellow men have exposed themselves to be overtly racist, and where my fellow Europeans have had to fear for their lives – sometimes literally -… There really has been very little to say. Life really has felt like an effort to try and manage the chaos that ensued. Will I have time to finish my PhD before Brexit happens? Will I finish my PhD before someone bashes my head in? Should I finally get naturalised? Do I even want to? Do I really even want to do anything with my PhD or should I apply to do something else in a different country?
Questions, questions, and there are no easy answers. That how life has been. Uncertainty. But, I suppose, even during uncertainty, you need to pull your pants up and face the storm.
There is very little to add to the beginning of this Green Party video. I am beginning to think they may be a bit clairvoyant..
Here we are, in the middle of the day after the referendum decided that United Kingdom would leave the EU. And a funny day it is – my twitter feed is now somewhat calmer than yesterday when people in the academia were scared of the what would happen to them, and uncertainty spread around followed by rage from those 75% of under-25 year olds who saw their EU citizen state snatched away from them by the older voters.
As I stated in a previous post, spend a lot of time outside the academia with people who are largely very much against the EU, and there was no-one apart from my closest colleague who voted to stay in. But yesterday there was no leering from them (apart from one person who had the audacity to call out my colleague for no intellect for voting to stay in, then claim that the EU had no effect on workers’ rights). Oh no, no rejoicing. When the markets stated to plummet, all you could hear was a stunned silence. Some people have exclaimed ‘what have we done’, however, they now need to face the reality of what is happening.
There is so much I could say about what is going on. But I am taking it in myself right now. The implications of the referendum are multiple, and the current situation has revealed a rift between the older generation and the younger one, who voted overwhelmingly to stay. Scotland wanted to remain, so did Northern Ireland. Scotland may reconsider its position as an member of the United Kingdom, and there are calls to join Northern Ireland together with Ireland. Will this become an issue of the dominance of England over the smaller nation-states, who knows. It might, and it is understandable – the focus is so much based on England and always has been.
Clausewitz said, ‘although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.’ And I’ll tell you what – politically this is probably the most interesting thing that has happened in a long time. Will the EU see this as a situation where they need to punish GB? Will they see this as an amazing situation where they could reform totally now that GB will no longer be a part of it, having a say and veto-ing things. Will the EU use Article 50 to keep all the free movement of the people? The possibilities are endless. Among all negativity, could this be something that might be positive for the EU?
I will leave you with another Clausewitz quote:
Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.
Let there be light for those of us who need it.
I don’t think I can comment anything else after the EU referendum and dealing with people calling my pro-EU colleague and idiot and having a go at me at having the wrong passport. Sometimes I feel like my life an a psychological experiment that I do not know anything about.
Tomorrow is, however, another day, and I have a mug of coffee with my name on it. Life does carry on, and we have to pick up where we left off. All of us.
‘Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.’
C.S.Lewis, ‘The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia)