I have never done creative writing. I am an all academic writing type girl. However, I wrote this last semester at a time when I was feeling particularly bogged down with life and expectations. Since this semester is progressively more stressful (I like to call it the perfect storm of a semester), I felt like reminding myself that I made it through last semester and can make it through this one too.
***********************************************I have never been in a situation of possibly drowning, unless you count the times I was held under water while horse playing in the pool with my brothers as a little girl. But, as a consumer of mass media, I can imagine what it would be like to drown.
I would be engulfed by a mass of liquid that is simultaneously strong and consuming while being fluid and illusory. My body would be extended making the length from my fingertips to my tiptoes feel lengths taller than they actually are. I imagine that while my legs and arms are flailing back and forth as fast and often as I physically can make them go, the time will actually be ticking by slower than the laws of physics say are possible. My lungs begin to burn with hatred for this element that has sustained my life for so long but is now betraying me by trying to infiltrate areas it doesn’t belong. Just as my lungs begin to give up on ever being filled with air again, the flailing of my arms and legs pays off and I gasp. I’ve been projected above the surface of the water and my lungs are gasping for as much air as possible. This brief moment of lifesaving air renews my body’s energy to take up the fight with the betraying substance once again. This renewal, however, is promptly followed by a repeat of the struggle with the meek hope of another replenishment of the ever-distant substance of oxygen.
This process of being pulled underwater and struggling to get above water to catch a gasp of air is the same process that I go through as a PhD student. Every day is filled with projects to do, papers to write, articles to read, classes to prepare, research ideas to flush out, and statistical designs to grasp. One on top of the other begins to feels as if each deadline and expectation weighs down, ultimately engulfing me making it impossible for me to reach the surface or even remember that there still is a surface. I don’t know why, possibly just out of wrote or subconscious movements, I keep pushing my way up. Thrashing through the sludge of internal and external expectations and then finally, gasp. With all the odds leading to more stress and less understanding, a moment comes when you’ve hit the surface for a moment and intake the briefest of wonderful breaths. That defying moment comes with a sudden understanding of a difficult concept or even just a positive comment at the bottom of a paper you spent countless hours on. These small gulps of affirmation act as a sense of renewal which encourage a plunge back into the water that is doctoral candidacy.