One of the bloggers I follow regularly goes by the name of ‘Mocha Momma‘: she’s a woman of strong character located in Illinois who is clearly passionate about her family, her job in education and calling out injustices she sees in the world around her. Anyway, in a recent blog post she described enrolling in grad school – something really she wanted to do – and the ensuring shock she felt at committing to her dream and having to follow it through (financially, time-wise, emotionally, professionally). This is the line in the post that really got to me:
For support, I called my friend Tammy who lives in Hawaii and she asked me how I was going to do this and I said,“I have NO idea. Really.” to which she called me out on complaining and said, “You’re living life on your terms. It’ll work out.”
When you’re living life on your terms – it will work out.
I had far more doubts than certainties in the face of moving down to London. How did I intend to afford an internship in the most expensive city in the UK? How was I planning on finding a room in a city I was a complete stranger to? I would need to find accommodation that was affordable, safe and within reasonable distance of work (I couldn’t face the prospect of a 1 hour train commute). Was I really serious about committing to the graduate school re-applications in such a way? I was choosing the precarious life of a student/intern over a steady income and professional stability. I was reluctant to divulge information about my placement and living arrangements to my friends for fear of it all falling through at any given moment. How did I expect this to work out?
And then the day came where I boarded an express train from Scotland down to London Kings Cross Station and carried my backpacks across town to the spare room in Lambeth. The day afterwards I met my supervisor and colleagues in a fairly informal manner (this was the first time I’d met any of them in person) to get a brief introduction to my research project. I’ve been taking advantage of the warm weather to run around outdoors: registering with an NHS surgery, changing contact details with my bank, finding the local library, looking at volunteering opportunities, picking up a second-hand bike from a kind friend. There are so many little things I need to sort out.
…But this is my life and I’m leading it independently exactly the way I wish. I get to commute every day to work. I can eat at whatever time I so wish without having to schedule around others. I do science all day. I’m in a busy city with plenty of things happening. I have everything I need within a 10 mile radius. Because this is what I want to do, I have the strongest motivation and personal investment in making it work out. I’m working on tailoring my budget to fit London, not tailoring London to fit my budget.
Here’s to a great 3 months.