Applying myself

by Jinryu

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It just struck me how, word for word, rejection letters in a fictional comic, from a different culture, translated from a Japanese, are almost identical to what I actually get in Australia.

The world is becoming a smaller place in unexpected ways.

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I am switching strategies lately. [DilligentB], who I will henceforth refer to as [Matlock], pointed out that I probably don’t have that many classes left before I complete my degree. You’d be surprised–I know I constantly am– but I easily lose track of things like that. Details, details, right? I’m always so focused on just finishing papers that are in front of me that I don’t really plan anything more than a week in advance.

Usually, mid-semester breaks totally sneak up on me. So do final exams. Anyways, I checked with student services and it turns out that I am quite close to finishing after all– after I complete this semester, all I need are two more 6 credit elective classes, and one more 4 unit elective class. That basically means two normal classes and one thesis paper.

What this means is that I can now initiate a new plan for getting a job– which is to finish my degree during December/January (the summer school semester here, in between the normal semesters) instead of in June 2014. That skips me ahead by several months and makes me eligible to apply for Graduate positions right now.

I’ve already handed in one application, but it’s a tough system. Unlike the clerkship programs that firms normally offer, graduate positions aren’t nearly as well advertised. You basically have to trawl through the websites of the firms one by one and see if you can find some openings. Most firms perfer clerkships for getting their next generation of employees, so not all firms offer graduate positions. Also, graduate intakes aren’t in any way regulated the way clerkships are, so applications can open up at any time, without any warning, and close at any time, at the discretion of the firm.

I’m finishing another application tonight, and then will start trawling for the next possibility.

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I’m not gonna lie– I’m feeling pretty burnt out. I spent all my energy with the clerkship process thining that it was going to be the final push, and that it would all pay off. The actual result is much like being in a boxing match, feeling you’ve got the opponent on the ropes, and going for the finisher– only to find that you hit nothing but air, and eat the biggest cross counter you’ve ever tasted. In what might have been a bit of arrogance at getting so many first round interviews, I built up expectations that I would probably be home free. Emotionally, without even really saying it out loud, I think that’s what I expected. So when I didn’t make it, I didn’t make it.

It’s been trying because it took me about a week to recover mentally from that, and then I managed to tell myself– it’s okay. There’s always next year. I know I said that also last year, but that’s what life is: playing the hands you’re dealt.

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So it came a bit as a surprise to find out that I can actually apply for grad positions right now. It caught me off guard, and I know this sounds kind of lame, but I’m not mentally prepared for another opportunity yet.

But well– I’m still kicking and punching. I finished one application last week– that took me about four days. Today, I hope to finish one more– which will have totally four days as well. There’s a fellowship position at the school that I want to apply for as well, and I need to get in gear looking for more grad positions.

I feel that the whole mental strain of it all has made me lose a lot of agility– I just can’t mobilise as much fighting spirit as I did about three months ago. I’m still tough and determined, but I’m finding it hard to go on the offensive, and I fear that at the moment, I’m being too passive about this recent opportunity that has sprung up.

I just need to keep fighting.

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[CM] is in pretty bad shape sometimes as well. She’s always pretty burnt out around exams, but the thing this semester is that most Med students have already finished– because she’s opted to take the optional USMLE (an American standardized medical school test), she’s going into overtime. She has about one week to study for what most American schools give students 8 weeks to do– and she’s behind schedule, and has about 3 days of full studying potential remaining.

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Yesterday while we were in bed and having trouble sleeping, CM and I had a good talk. Latey, we’ve been going through the full range of emotions in a day. I don’t think it’s exactly healthy, but this is just what happens when so much is on the line in such a short period of time. There’s a hella lot of micromanagement involved, which is why things are so tiresome. Nothing is automatically easy. Every litte thing must be won though a push.

She told me yesterday that I’m a very “normal” person, in that sometimes, she simply feels that she’s “crazy.” I can’t deny that– her range of moods and their intensity are certainly a force to be reckoned with! But I love her, and I’m going to stick by her. She’s more emotional than I am, but that’s probably why we’re in this together– because she brings the feelings into my life that make me more human than I was before I met her.

The normalcy that she speaks of, she describes it as a calm that I have that makes it seem like am not affected by anything. While it’s true that I think I mentally tougher than most, I don’t think I’m invulnerable– I just have adverse situations down to a routine to the point where I don’t need to get emotionally involved in them anymore.

I think when I was younger, when bad things happened, I’d worry, I’d be afraid, I’d be unable to enjoy anything else in my life. Right now?

I’m not worried really, nor am I afraid. And hell, I enjoy reading mangas, playing video games, and doing judo. Hell, I even enjoy going to school and going to class! I enjoy plenty of things!

The only thing that changes is that the compartmentalisation of what would otherwise be mental bombshells is that I’m just tired. I don’t feel consciously stressed– I just know that I don’t have the fervor to take on the things that I might reasonably know that I want to take on.

Doing the things I like is, in part, procrastination. But on the other hand, I know myself enough to know that it serves a greater purpose too– and that is the mental recovery from stressful exertion. It might sound strange, but everytime I do something I enjoy, I enjoy it truly– it’s not an escapism from what I need to do. These leisure activities are irresponsible acts only superficially– and as childish as people often tell me they seem, they’re actually really important, and they’re what separate me from people who are less “normal” and more “crazy.” The only difference is that I admit that I need to take time to do mental maintenance from time to time, and I make no apologies about it. It is time that I owe myself.

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The real challenges in life are when you ask more of yourself than what you can actually do.

Me complaining that I don’t feel up to it right now– it’s not that I’m totally depressed or unwilling to do it. It’s just that, after clerkships, I really feel that I earned myself so “me” time– and I was only able to push through the toughest parts t full steam during the interviews because I thought I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I put off my own needs to get the job done, promising mysef that I’d pay myself back.

And now I’m trying to shortchange myself, because graduate applications are open.

At one level, I guess I’m sort of asking myself another favour, another “this is the last time, I swear!” but the thing is, I know me. I don’t need to look around me and see how dysfunctional people get when they don’t take the time to relax and take things easy. I know me– and I know how much time I owe myself.

I also know that I’m a fighter, and that pushing through this too won’t kill me.

I just worry that I might not recognise how far past my limits I’ve pushed myself, and I fear that I might lose myself in the process.

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