I'm steadily working on making my life better, more pleasant, easier--steadily working to reclaim control. I've let myself believe far too often that I don't have control over my life, and I am beginning to see how much I'd given up on myself.
I refuse to be mean to myself about this, though. There are many, many ways in which I've been mistreated, abandoned, rejected, and had my heart broken during the last decade or so. I have had every right to feel angry, cheated, underestimated, and discouraged. I have had every right to grieve. But I need to learn how to be kinder to myself by learning how to actually own my life.
As I see it, my dissertation has given me a gift. It has forced me to fight Old Man Depression, rather than just coping with him while he builds rubbish piles all over my mental landscape. It has forced me to face up to the ways in which I have clung to the hope of controlling what I cannot (in particular, how others perceive me) and abdicated control over what I can.
It has made me realize that I have to work hard to become the kind of person who can write a book--or, at least, this book.
It has made me realize how much I've neglected my need to create, connect, and think beyond my career.
It has made me realize exactly how much I've tried to conform to some nebulous, idealized version of a graduate student. And how utterly and repeatedly I've failed to manage being who I am not. What is the point of trying to suppress a personality that, when push comes to shove, just won't allow me to compromise on what I believe most passionately, no matter who wants me to? What is the point, when I'm consistently labeled a rebel and a troublemaker, anyway?
I cannot try, any longer, to live someone else's life. I cannot try, any longer, to be who I am not. The attempt has only made me miserable.
"Disillusioned" has more than one meaning.