This time last year, I was weeks from graduating from the University of Cambridge, with two PhD offers under my belt, a thigh gap starting to appear just below it, and that inner radiance that comes when your dreams are on the brink of realization. A year later, those PhD offers have fallen through, that incredibly difficult degree has also proved to be incredibly unemployable, and I have lost all of my patience, and most of my hair. The last straw was today, when, just five minutes to my birthday, I got an email telling me I had been turned down for the one programme that had not rejected me yet. Now, I would like to believe as much as the next person that the Universe has no personal vendetta against me, but when HR sends you a rejection email at 11.55 pm, it is hard to believe there aren’t greater forces at work.
Mostly due to my amazing mother, I have never treated life as a checklist of acquisitions and achievements. Instead, she cultivated my innate capacity for happiness, to the point where I am that girl in romantic comedies who stops to caress a flower, and bounces on her toes when she sees babies. My favorite feature about myself is that extraordinary capacity for joy; I don’t enjoy being unhappy, unlike most people my age who seem to fluctuate between feelings of entitlement and deep disappointment . That being said, after a year of standing still in the middle of no where, with my perfect CV and perfect hair (both of which required an equal amount of work), I’m losing my happy.
That’s where the email comes in. Or comes back in. Stream of consciousness people, get with it! I realized today that even the most precious moments of your life, which are set aside for contemplation and gratitude, can be marred. And so, in the face of HR officials who stay in their offices till midnight to dole out their bad news, all we can do is grow some thick skin and blast some loud music. While the first is taking its sweet course, the second hopefully will be a bit more forthcoming. In order to feel young and happy and alive, at a time when my life has started to feel like a epilogue, I am off to a Katy Perry concert tomorrow. I’m trying to reclaim my story. I’m going to get my happy back. And I don’t need a career, or a future, or even a full head of hair to do that! As my three year old self would say, a balloon and a yellow dress is quite sufficient. After all, there is a difference between growing up and growing old. Here’s to a new year, and old priorities: happiness, kindness. yellow dresses, and balloons!