Strictly speaking, I did not like Britney, play with your heart and get lost in the game. But, I did fall victim to my unfortunate MO of writing somewhat frequently for a while and then going on an incredibly long and unexpected hiatus. For that, I can only apologize, offer some weak explanations, provide an update, and hope to God that what I have to say is still of some interest.
Where in the world have I been? What could possibly warrant a nine month absence? Well, my friend, the answer will come with no surprise: Paranoia.
Ah yes, sweet, sweet, hysterical, baseless, panic-driven paranoia. As you may have gathered from previous posts, or from knowing me in real life, I am a chronic worrier. I worry and overthink about nearly everything. When I am in a state of stress or uncertainty, this worry spirals into paranoia and a propensity for catastrophic thinking.
While I eagerly waited for admission decisions in November, the Stress demon planted itself into my thoughts, and invited its friends Worry and Paranoia to come and play. I suddenly had a very irrational thought: “What if my work place finds my blog, sees I am applying to graduate school, and then fires me?” My blood ran cold, and I immediately opted to stop all writings, musings, and posts until a later date when they knew of my plans.
Originally, I planned to tell them once I learned of my admissions and decided on a university. However, when the decisions came and I (spoiler alert) learned of my acceptances, Paranoia and Worry still gripped me. Another irrational thought: “What if they fire me because they know I am leaving?” Once again, my blood ran cold. It did not matter that the logical part of me knew that this was a very, very unlikely scenario. I am lucky to have wonderful employers who are very supportive and understanding of their employees. However, no matter how much I told myself of this again and again, I could not make myself truly believe it.
I delayed and delayed again my plans to let them know of my acceptance to graduate school. I would pick a date in the future to tell them, but when that date would come I would panic and pick a new one farther out. Harboring that secret made me feel dishonest and ashamed. As a person with a disproportionately large guilt complex, I am not good at handling the internal stress and turmoil that comes with self secret keeping. These feelings fed Stress, Worry, and Paranoia, who were still following me around like the most incessant elementary school bullies, taking the Fruit-by-the-Foot and Capri-suns right out of my backpack.
In the early summer, it occurred to me that I was running out of time. Sure, my employment contract only required a two-week notice, but I wanted to give my employers more of a heads up. They had treated me incredibly well and I had enjoyed my time working there. Plus, I knew I would be leaving around a busy time, so I wanted to ensure they could plan properly.
But my bullies, realizing their hold on me was weakening, pushed through a flurry of new things to occupy my thoughts. Accommodation application questions, troubles making university payments, thinking I had messed up my visa application and would be banned for life from the UK (more on that another time)… These bullies had truly outdone themselves. I think the baby wrinkles that are making their shy debut under my eyes are from all the crying I did during this time. I was reduced to a blubbering, hysterical burrito of stress. I felt like I was coming apart at the seams.
Dramatic? Of course. Over-reacting? Entirely.
However, as anyone who has ever been in a period of incredible stress knows, when you are in the middle of it, you can’t just make it stop. Maybe some people can. But I have not yet reached that level of enlightenment.
Despite the stress, the worry, and the paranoia; despite my family telling me that I would die if I didn’t relax; despite my unrelenting nightmares of worst case scenarios coming true… Everything turned out perfectly fine. Because, of course it would.
And so now, dear reader, I am reporting to you after nine of the most stressful months of my life. I have been admitted to and accepted a place to graduate school. I have purchased a plane ticket (or should I say, my grandpa has kindly gifted me a plane ticket). I have been offered affordable housing through the university. I have received my student visa. And, I have let my employers know that I will be leaving.
Going to graduate school abroad is something I have wanted to do for years. I dreamed about it. I used it as a touch stone of hope for a better future when my life was not what I wanted it to be. Since graduating from college, I waited three years for this opportunity. As you know, I impatiently waited for months for the applications to open, my excitement bursting me at the seams. After I applied, I waited for weeks for a decision, again impatient and overly excited.
And then, I waited nine months, unable to feel overly excited because it was so far away and there was still so much to sort out, so much to plan, so much that could go wrong. So much to worry about. I squashed my excitement, afraid to let myself be truly happy for such a long period of time in case I jinxed it. In retrospect, that was such a silly, stupid thing to do.
Happiness is not a commodity. It is not something subject to rules of supply and demand. It does not a contract with terms and conditions. If I had allowed myself to just be happy, excited, and joyful about this wonderful accomplishment of mine, perhaps the past nine months would have been different. Perhaps I would have had nine months of intense enthusiasm. Perhaps I would have been hysterical, but a hysterical bliss and positivism. Can you even imagine what hysterical bliss would look like?
Well, I chose hysterical bliss now. For the past year, I have felt in limbo, like I was on a hamster wheel going faster and faster but not making any progress. I knew something amazing was coming, but with so much waiting, it felt like nothing would ever come except the worry and stress of everything in between. But now, I have one week left of work, and three weeks left before I begin the rest of my life and embark on my greatest adventure yet. I have finally allowed myself to be happy, and oh my goodness, does it feel so good.
In the spirit of new beginnings, let me introduce myself to you again.
Hello, my name is Myriah. I am an incoming postgraduate student to the MLitt in International Security Studies at the University of St Andrews, and I am hysterically excited. Nice to meet you.