I’m on my half-way mark in my master programme (in creative writing, in case you do not know.) Having left a full-time job to pursue this course, a job which I had found easily despite a hiatus of sixteen years being a housewife, I am often asked by many as to what my plans are after I graduate. It’s as if I had been reckles abandoning a good job to do this study for a non-existing career or future. The question stresses me up, for I do not know. I do feel guilty not contributing to the economy and to the family. But then again, my life as a housewife for the past sixteen years, while not having any financial returns, did have its own tangible benefits. My sons have either graduated or are on their way, which was my objective when I decided to leave the corporate life in exchange for a dull, unfulfilling, and often frustrating full-time mothering job. (If you’ve been following my blog through these years, you would know.)
I want to go with the flow and subscribe to the saying of 船 到 桥 头 自 然 直(The path will straighten itself when the time is ripe) but then again, planning is crucial if you want to reach a certain destination. My destination is hazy and vague, and I don’t know what’s the GPS setting yet.
While the programme has been really enjoyable, I am often filled with doubt as to if I am really good enough to have a writing career, something I have been telling everyone what I will do when I graduate (what else could I say?). Am I wasting valuable financial resource which could have been put into better use? Would the 1.5 years be better spent earning an income?
My grades have not been good and I am beginning to realise that not having a literature/English/philosophy degree is a drawback. A chemistry degree is just not helpful when discussing Shakespear poetry or play. The books I have read, genre fiction versus the preferred literary fiction, did not provide the resource I need now. But much worse than this is the requirements to write critical essays which carry a significant percentage of the final grade. While my lecturer is sympathetic – we have signed up for creative writing, not critical writing – and he hopes to change this for future students, I am losing my confidence daily. Think of yourself as the soldiers hinged on the barbed wire so that others can climb over you safely was his metaphor for us – and I see myself slowly dying of pain on the barbed wire while awaiting the compressing weights of crossing soldiers.
So yes, the future is vague, and I am living out of my comfort zone, but I feel it is better to be uncomfortable than be complacently comfortable while not feeling completely satisfied. It’s akin to when I am struggling in a challenging arm-balancing yoga pose like forearm stand, trying to understand why I even bother when I don’t need to. Then I realise it’s a destination I had set myself up in my yoga journey, just like the book I intend to publish, or the biography of Grandma I had intended to write eons ago.
I may not reach my destination, but my GPS has a direction guiding me. And when I am feeling doubtful, when my confidence is shaken, I remind myself to return to my breath. Like now.