Titian, ‘Sisyphus′, 1549
Oil on Canvas, 237 x 216 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
…So it has become quite clear that my dedication to this enterprise died a tragic death just after its birth.
Whilst I am pleased to report that I’m no longer unemployed, the descent into the banality of everyday working life has sent me into a downward spiral of negativity, and I seem to have lost all sight of what I was trying to achieve in the first place. This has no doubt led to a remarkable decrease in confidence and a severe lack of direction, which I am now seeking to remedy. Let’s call this one ‘The Comeback Blog’.
I don’t hate my job, I just wish it enabled me to use the remarkable skill set my education has endowed me with. The academic has taken the back seat while the couch potato is grasping the wheel. It is most apparent in my current reading list. The novel has taken the place of the article; the monarchic politics of Westeros has replaced the workings of Reception Theory; even my forays into the world of Sartre have led me to read ‘Nausea’, one of his five works of fiction. I’ve become so wrapped up in the world of retail (yes, I’m going to hell), I’ve not only ceased to read academic texts, but I’ve neglected my own research and the article I was preparing for publication. This has recently become increasingly apparent to me, to the dismay of those who now have to tolerate my woeful company.
This has to stop. As 2013 marks my first quarter-century, it must also mark a turnaround for the better. I’m too set in my ways, too safe, too sensible, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, too afraid of my own shadow.
In October I begin a PhD at the University of York, working under the supervision of Professor Liz Prettejohn. It’s an extremely exciting point in my career path, and I absolutely cannot enter that stage – a 6 year and 90,000 word investment – without first re-moulding myself into the kind of person who deserves such an opportunity. I’m becoming increasingly drawn to the idea of throwing myself out of my comfort zone and into something entirely new and life-altering. I only have five or so years left of being a twenty-something, and I need to finally start experiencing some excitement.
I’m going to spend this summer volunteering in Thailand: teaching English and reintroducing captive elephants back into protected forests.
Alongside academia I always had an interest in working with and rehabilitating wild animals, and this is something I always wanted to do. Now I find myself with the means to do so, the decision is a no-brainer.
The cross-roads I found myself facing recently left me wondering if academia was the right choice – what if I gain a PhD and never take it anywhere? What if it’s all a waste of time and the world of academia is too competitive? What if I drown in the sea of art historians looking for the same break? What I’ve realised is I need to stop asking those questions – the more I question my own choices, the more I talk myself out of them. That’s how I became this person: lacking in confidence, scared of taking risks, fearing spontaneity and fundamentally bored.
So I’m going to push myself, and if all goes to plan, upon my return I should be a more rounded individual with the confidence that’s essential when embarking on the Road to Academia.