Tuesday, 19 May 2015


So, as you may or may not know, I am not currently employed. I don't feel up to entering the work environment for a number of reasons, some of them backed up by psychiatrists. (Psychiatrists, of course, can only go so far.) About a month ago I wrote to express my interest in studying a language at university (or, as we in Australia like to say, 'uni'). A few days ago I learned an important piece of information: While a major in Women's Studies is not permitted at UNSW, the University of Sydney (or USyd) is another matter. They've had a Gender Studies major since 2006! I somehow assumed that if UNSW didn't have it, USyd wouldn't have it either, but now that I'm wrong, can I overcome my reluctance to travel to the city multiple times a week to attend university? There is a part of me that says I am better off reading Simone de Beauvoir or bell hooks - or any of the other fabulous theorists I haven't read - on my own, but that's being challenged by my need for community, and some vague hope of one day finding myself in a position to work. Because if I could work, I could sustain myself in Stockholm, Lund or wherever it is I want to go, and not have to take anybody else into account.

There was this guy, a disability rights advocate whose name I forget, who encouraged every person who identifies as disabled (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) to get a job - for the independence. Many people with physical disabilities live below the poverty line, as do many people with mental illnesses. His heartfelt conviction was that a job was the key to living a good life.

I'm not so sure. I may be in poverty, but I don't feel poor. It's a state of mind. I feel like I have everything I need, materially. When viewed from an (atheist) Buddhist perspective, I have abundance in my life. I make the most of what I have, and that creativity enriches my perspective. Sure, I would love to live in another country, but I also love living with my family. If I moved, I would have to give that up. It's not the end of the world if I stay here longer.

Attending university would put me in touch with bright young things, including people from other countries on exchange programs. It's not that I can't keep up my intellectual journey on my own. It's that I no longer have anything to prove. I'm "too far gone" down the path of eccentricity - I feel comfortable with myself. What I do lack is a sense of community.

University communities can be stressful places, though. I can only hope that I can get through the darkest periods without quitting. What motivates me anyway, beyond community? A sense that I have something to contribute to society? A desire to not only write for myself and the relatively few readers I have now (whom I nevertheless love =) )? An interest in perusing the possibilities again?

I have a feeling what I choose to study will be a very important decision. I had been preparing to take on a language (French, to be specific), but this presence of a Gender Studies major makes me rethink my game plan. Perhaps I'll explore this issue further in an upcoming post...

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