Flying off the edge of the PhD ‘cliff’
I think I’ve finally sussed why I’m so resistant to moving away to find a job. It’s nothing to do with the act of moving away itself (well, a little, but I could overcome that). It’s because I generally like change to happen slowly, and so many things beyond my control have resulted in a rollercoaster of rapid changes recently. The enormity of university finally coming to an end (i.e. really, this time) has been gradually hitting me over the past few months, and such a major constant in my life simply falling away means I’m clutching at the remnants (music, radio, etc.), and I’m highly resentful of the expectation that I should give these up too.
In retrospect, the end of my PhD now feels like the scene in one of the trailers for the recent rebooted Star Trek film. The young James Kirk increases speed towards a cliff, intending to brake before flying into the abyss, but fails to do so. Unlike Kirk, however, I didn’t jump from the car and cling on to the cliff edge with my bare hands as the car plummeted, but went into freefall. In fact, I don’t think I even bothered to brake. Being expected to ‘take the leap’ into the unknown world of postdocs is like being told “have faith, there WILL be an inflatable at the bottom of your fall to catch you!”, but I can’t see it. I also have a grappling hook gun, and I’m being asked to ‘choose’ not to use it!
I come up with weird analogies I know, but that’s what it feels like. The grappling hook represents restarting all of the things I’ve given up, and making more connections to strengthen my roots. All I have to do is pull the trigger, and I’ll be fine, but the longer I leave it, the further I’ll have to climb to get back.
However, if I hit the bottom, even if it’s a soft landing, what if I decide to fire the grappling hook then, and it falls short, simply plummeting back towards me and landing with an almighty clattering sound?