My friend Fiona has a theory about me. She thinks that at some point in my unremembered past, I made a deal with God that I would be able to live a full life, but I would only have 25 years in which to do it, and thus I must live on hyper-speed. I hope she's wrong, because that means I'm dead as a doornail in 6 weeks, but I can see why one would think that. I'm always living for tomorrow. I have a list of things to do in life, and I try to stick to it like glue. My whole life up to this point has been conducted with the sole purpose of avoiding being one of those people who wakes up one day in their 50's and thinks, "Is this it? Why didn't I do more?". Of all the things in life I fear, that's the worst. I don't fear being alone, I don't fear an early death, I don't fear the unknown-I fear that. Regret for the things I didn't do.
But just recently I've started to wonder if maybe I'm not taking it too far. For example, the topic on everyone in my programme's mind right now is PhD applications. I will be honest-I don't really want to do one. It sounds nice in theory, but I'm not cut out to be an academic. I have the brains, sure, but I don't have the work ethic when it comes to studying or the competetive edge. I don't have the patience to sit inside studying ancient languages all day. I wish I did, but I simply don't. If I've learned nothing else from this year, it's that. However, I find it intensely difficult to reconcile myself with this, because getting a PhD is on my list of things to do in life. I really, really, really want to be called Dr. Prior someday. But honestly? That might be the only reason. Yes, I would love to teach at the university level, and I would love to write books on religion, but I don't need a PhD for that; I'd be just as happy teaching at community college and writing popular non-fiction for a less educated audience as I would teaching at UCL or NYU or somewhere and writing for academic journals. More than that, I don't want to spend the next three to five years still in school. But, I do want to be able to say I got my PhD.
I won't lie, it's probably a vanity thing. I want to be able to say I did it more than I actually want to do it. So which is better-ticking something off my to-do list or just accepting that maybe I won't ever have a doctorate and sitting back and enjoying life? Objectively, this shouldn't seem like a hard question to answer, but for me, it rather is. More than anything, it's made me reflect on other aspects of my life; am I too busy accomplishing my goals to spend the proper amount of time with all my friends? Or to meet a guy I might actually date for more than 3 months?
Of all the aspects of my life that have suffered, I think my love life is probably the worst. I've always just been too busy to date, and every time I do start seeing someone, I wonder if I won't get stuck in a rut and end up with the wrong guy and-you guessed it-wake up in 30 years regretting it. What if I do meet Hypothetical Dream Guy and am too busy to notice? What if he asks me out and I say no because I've got plans that night? What if I could have this amazing life with someone with a relationship that other people dream of having, but am too selfish to rearrange my life in order to be with him because he wasn't part of the original plan?
I know this all seems very far-fetched. But still...what if?