There are two re-occurring dreams in my life. They come back to me every now and then.
In the first dream I am back in Crail, looking out the living room window. At the bottom of our sloping garden is a footpath, a brief cliff and then the sea. The sea stretches away into the distance.
In the dream I watch a tsunami approaching us. Often there are stormy waves that crash into the shore, over the cliff, up into our garden and smash into the house. This would be impossible in real life – our house is to high above the shoreline (and too far back) to get struck by tidal force. However, in the dream I am bracing against a massive, violent tsunami that I know is coming for us.
In the second dream I am losing my dreadlocks. They dissolve in my hands – perhaps I accidentally put conditioner in them. The dreadlocks slowly unravel back to smooth hair, and I know that I’m not going to be able to salvage them. This is an unhappy dream.
Most of my dreams are neutral or positive. The dream where I lose my dreadlocks is not positive at all.
I think that I will always worry about who I am as a person. Am I good enough? Am I too much of a selfish asshole? Did I do the right thing? Back in May 2012 I was sitting on a gorgeous leafy balcony in Switzerland, seriously questioning my worth as a scientist.
And if I question my worth as a scientist, it means I am also questioning the years (decades) of choices I made, and my own self-awareness of who I was: because I had spent all these years thinking that I was suited to being a scientist.
Now it feels like I have undone the damage caused to my sense of self-worth, and I can accept myself as a competent scientist once more. But instead I am now uncertain about other things. I want (deeply!) to survive grad school and get my PhD…but I worry about the price I am paying to do that. I learned back in Switzerland that I needed desperately to speak up and articulate my desires…now I am trying to bite down harder on my tongue. I want to be a person who speaks out…but I fear I’m swinging too far towards ‘Confrontational Bitch’.
It’s hard, sometimes. When to bite down, when to speak up. I hope that I get it right more times than I get it wrong.