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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Practicality requires selflessness

I don't know where my head is these days. I keep forgetting things. I make plans, write things down so I don't forget things I want to do in order to accomplish them, and only much later find them all of a sudden/remember I'd even written them down/feel I had something to do. I'm finding it hard to remember what day of the week it is and I'm losing sense of how far apart days and events are. I thought I'd figured out exactly what I wanted to talk about during therapy today (lies, the damned lies) and not only did I not manage to organise my thoughts to do so, I think I failed to convey the bigger issue behind them. Not that it fooled the therapist, she's a clever one. 

Today she asked about my purpose and my plans for the future. She already knows them, but she implied this is taking too big a toll on me and wanted to know if I really think it's worth it. She pointed out the obvious: I'm unhappy, I'm sacrificing a part of me, I'm not following the things I'm passionate about. I pointed out the practical: I know the obvious, but it won't change the fact that I owe a lot of money (and my sister will too and my parents do already), I need to get a job that pays well quite quickly and I'm plain just not good enough at what I love for it to be a viable option. What's really worth it is making sure my sister doesn't have to settle for mediocrity. She's good at what she does and I'll do everything in my power for her to reach as high as she can. Even if it means I'm dying a little inside. To follow my dreams is not only unaffordable, it would be selfish and I can't afford to be selfish. 

I can't get into more debt for a career I won't be good enough at. No matter how much I like it, or how I get passionate talking about maths, I know I'm not that good a mathematician. Staring at problems, dumbfounded, never made anyone good at maths. No matter how much beauty they found just thinking about the problems, reading elegant solutions, or even relating one problem to others. Can't I go back to the plan where I thought I could still get a Master's degree in maths, and even a PhD? Not really. It took me long enough to realise it, and she made me realise I'm not at peace with the idea just yet because her observation of how passionate I was about it made me cry. When she asked what I was feeling right then and there, I couldn't describe it. It was just this overwhelming sadness that took over when I spoke out loud what I've only been writing for myself in the blog: I've given up a career in maths for a job in something I'll be decently good at. When I tried to explain it, I brought up the word "nostalgia" but it's actually more accurately described as "melancholia," even if it's nostalgia that triggered it.

I briefly talked about SmTn as my last connection to the maths world (not that she would have seen it that way necessarily) and it dawned on me: SmTn is an analogy for my relationship with maths (and vice versa). I wish I could better explain that with words, but it feels like any attempts will just muddy the idea that's so clear in my head. I'm just not very good at writing today.

The so-obvious-I-should-have-seen-it-earlier epiphany of the day is that I never gave myself time to mourn the part of me I'm deliberately killing. 

Dear Ms. Academic Counsellor,

I am so sorry I showed up for our appointment teary-eyed and clearly not quite well. I thank you for being helpful and supportive and for not saying anything even though you could see right through me. In the future, I will not schedule anything for right after therapy because it clearly gets to me. Thanks for your advice. Sorry I haven't quite moulded myself into the person I asked you to turn me into. It's a somewhat painful process. 


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