Imposter Syndrome, Begone

I am having severe imposter syndrome right now.

I mean, what if I’m not good enough for a PhD?

I keep feeling like I should live and breathe academia, but the truth is, I don’t. I love so many things; academia is just one aspect of my life. But what if that’s wrong? What if I should be more passionate? Should I be reading research papers every day? Should I be annotating original texts with thoughts and ideas?

(I kind of do that anyway, but still.)

I’m going into my Master’s degree not knowing what to specialise in. I think it might be medieval literature, but what if it’s not? What if it turns out to be language, or history, or an interdisciplinary mix that makes no sense to anyone but me?

I can’t even read Latin, let alone any other medieval language. I was never offered it during my undergraduate degree and I can’t help but wonder if that will hold me back. I don’t want to be held back. Damn it, I want that PhD. I want to get a 70+ for every single Master’s assessment. I want to ace my classes, be passionate about my medieval loves.

And I want to do my PhD at Oxford or Cambridge. Both have amazing PhD provision, and I know I can do it.

But I’m so worried that my undergraduate degree result will hinder that. It’s been a stressful, personally disastrous three years and I came out with a degree classification that most Master’s programmes wouldn’t even look at.

(Yes, I have a degree, and I recognise that I’m lucky. But I’m still frustrated as fuck.)

I honestly don’t know what the next year has in store for me, but I am not going to let it be horrific. I am going to succeed and be brilliant, just like I know I can be.

Because I bloody well deserve it.

Review | Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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  • Hardcover (Hodder & Stoughton, 380 pages)
  • Published 28th April 2016
  • Translated from the original Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3 stars
  • Buy the book here

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.”

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dear amanda palmer.

I’ve just finished The Art of Asking, and I feel like I might cry.

I don’t ask, you see. Oh, sure, if I need change for the laundrette and I know I’ll pay them back at some point, I’ll ask a flatmate. But that’s not asking, not to me.

Asking is eleven year-old me realising that she’ll be wheelchair bound for six to eight weeks and knowing that she’ll need help to even do the basic things.

Asking is seventeen year-old me breaking down in a school counsellor’s office because she doesn’t know how to cope with life anymore.

Asking is twenty-one year-old me, the current me, realising at 3am one night that she might have been sexually abused aged fourteen and not knowing how to process, or what to do.

I could ask for help then – but I’ve only ever asked when I’m desperate. I find it so very hard to understand that asking for help isn’t being dependent. I don’t lose this independence I’ve worked so hard to gain because I always believed I had to prove myself.

(I’m physically disabled, and always, always fought for that self-sufficiency, you see. I didn’t want to depend upon anyone. I still don’t.)

And reading your words, your stories… it’s making me realise that maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to be so stubborn. I am loved, I am supported, and there is no shame in asking for that £50 to cover food expenses from my parents while at university, or a hug from a friend when I feel like that seventeen year-old self again.

There is no shame. And I will remember that. 

So thank you, Amanda Palmer. Thank you. I don’t know you, have never met you, but your words have shifted something in me. Thank you.

The flower really fucking helps.

(And damn it, I’m crying.)

 

the blanket

My desk is a mess. I wish I could call it beautiful, with its chips and dents and lipsticks littered alongside those fine liner pens that are my staple. But it’s not. It’s a reflection of my mind; right now, you can guess exactly what state that’s in. I have six weeks left until my dissertation deadline, two months until my final exams, and I don’t think I’ve been outside recently for anything other than leaving for lectures.

This is not me glamourising mental illness, by the way. It’s anything but.

I have this love-hate relationship with university, with academia. It drives me onwards and yet pulls me back. I could be a wreck inside, yet still work on research and somehow get myself a 2:1 in an essay. Is it luck, is it perseverance? Probably both. I’ve sent off Masters’ applications; one rejection, one offer. Four still to make up their clever minds. (The rejection was from my #1 choice, and it still stings. But I’ll get over it.)

And all the while I’m a jittering bundle of nerves and confusion. I know I should go outside. The sun’s even shining today. But somehow it seems safer to stay inside. One glance at my bed, my friend and foe, and I feel that pull, that longing to cocoon myself. Yet, you see, I’m an adult. I can’t cocoon myself anymore. Oh, I could pull a blanket around myself for an hour or two and pretend it’s for warmth. A lie, but a reasonable one, to the outside world. To my mind. However, if I hold onto that blanket for any longer, I start forgetting what life is like without it. Not a good idea, let’s be honest. (I can be honest with you, the invisible readers.)

I have to throw the blanket off. I know I do. Stretch muscles, both mental and physical.

But it’s so fucking hard.

Review | The Girl of Fire & Thorns – Rae Carson

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  • Paperback (Greenwillow Books, 423 pages)
  • First published 2011; this edition published 2012
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars
  • Buy the book here

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.”

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Review | Autumn Thorns – Yasmine Galenorn

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  • Paperback (Headline, 320 pages)
  • First published 2015
  • Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
  • Received review copy courtesy of Bookbridgr
  • Buy the book here

“Enter Whisper Hollow at your own risk, for in this town spirits walk among the living, and the lake never gives up her dead. 

Whisper Hollow is no ordinary place. In this haunted town, people don’t stay buried.

Kerris Fellwater isn’t your usual human. She’s a spirit shaman who drives the dead back to their graves.

Fifteen years ago, Kerris ran away from her hometown. But now she’s back, and there are deadly magical forces at work, wreaking havoc.

Whisper Hollow holds painful memories for Kerris, but a lot has changed. There’s a mysterious new guy in town, Bryan, who Kerris feels powerfully drawn to. Together they unearth a horrifying family secret, and unravelling the mystery means working with – rather than against – the dead. Can they defeat Whisper Hollow’s enemy, before it destroys them?”

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