I apologise if what I'm about to say sounds absolutely and disgustingly indulgent and self-absorbed, but I have to say it: Sometimes I really wonder if life wouldn't be much easier if I were more plain, less intelligent, more average. There is so much baggage attached to looking a certain way, being led to believe you look a certain way, and going to a certain school and being led to believe you're special because you go to a certain school. Whether it's justified or not, this is how I think now. I set my standards (well, theoretically anyway; I hazard to talk about "standards" now after the unmitigated disaster that's been my love life over the past two, three years) according to how I perceive myself and the kind of life I expect myself to be living a few years down the road, and according to these standards in a perfect utopic setting, even Roger Federer wouldn't measure up because I'm afraid he might not be intellectual, analytical, perceptive and well-read enough. It makes you wonder why we strive so damn hard for perfection when it doesn't exist. Roger at his best never had a full season in which he won all his matches; maybe he lost three at most, but he still lost. It makes me wonder why I think I'm entitled to the best and nothing but the best when my version of the best is almost the same as perfection, and when I have not done anything special or important to deserve this illusory idea of "the best".
I wrote this in 2009 (which would be rather apparent after one clicked on the link to the entry, so what I just wrote is tautological, but anyway). Nothing much has really changed. Oh, my tone isn't as bitter as it used to be back in the day, but the substance more or less remains. I chase perfection as though in a dream, stumbling after vapour and smoke; and the baggage referred to above has more or less stayed the same. At the back of mind, I am always somewhat self-conscious about not being interesting enough, or not having enough of a personality to sustain someone's interest beyond the initial interest spurred on by some form of physical attraction. At the same time, I must believe, on some level, that I am pretty damn awesome because I want the perfect person and I will not settle for less. When I say 'perfect', I mean someone who fits all the qualities that I want in a man - and there are only six, one (and a half) of which isn't a real requirement, so I don't see how or why it is seemingly so difficult.
And yes, maybe life would be easier if I were less intelligent, more plain, more average. Maybe then I would be happy dating a man with modest ambitions, who doesn't read anything apart from newspapers (sometimes), who doesn't know anything about culture, who is smart (sort of) but not intellectual, who treats me like a queen. Unfortunately, because I am exactly who I am, I really would rather be single than date someone who isn't up to scratch. I genuinely do believe that I bring a lot to the table, and therefore, it only stands to reason that the other person has to at least measure up. Do I want life to be easier? Sure, it would be nice if happiness and lasting companionship could fall onto my lap right away; it would be nice if I didn't have the burden of six failed relationships on my shoulders; and it would also be nice if I had a boring job, money in the bank account, and some genuine contentment with that kind of life.
If all that had to come at the expense of everything that I am, however, I would rather tell it to fuck off. Of course, I don't think I ever really believed, even for a second, that I would be happier if I were stupid or ugly or fat or whatever; seriously, if I ever say this, I probably don't mean it and it's just me whining and complaining like a broken record. The truth is, I love being myself. I think I lead a really charmed life. I have amazing parents who are unbelievably supportive of me, my academic achievements are out of this world, I am doing a Law PhD in Cambridge, I've been desired and/or loved by at least six different men in the past, random men tell me that I'm beautiful on the streets (which is actually annoying and creepy but nevermind about that), and I have really amazing taste in the arts. I mean...I am pretty awesome. Why wouldn't I want to be exactly who I am?
Oh, of course, I could be a Gates Cambridge scholar, or I could've done my LLM in Harvard, whatever - I tried to complete this sentence by adding a third item (isn't it true that examples always come better in a trio) but I couldn't think of anything else. Sure, it could always be better, but you can't win all the battles in life, and I think it's nice to be appreciative and proud of the ones that you have won.
Of course, there are a few reasons for my current good mood. Getting PMS out of the way definitely helps; but more importantly, I had another really good meeting with my supervisors today.
The thing is, it was the second time I submitted something to them before the meeting, and like the previous time, I did it at the last minute and submitted pretty much a first draft, and I thought it was utter crap. Like the previous time, I was dreading the meeting (I never mean it when I email them my work and say, 'I look forward to our meeting!'). Like the previous time, too, it went really well.
They said that I made good progress, that I write really well, that I managed to find an interesting angle to my research in a relatively short amount of time which was not usually expected of first-year PhD students, and basically, that it was going well. Even though I still cannot help but wonder when I'm going to be exposed as a fraud (the imposter syndrome is hard to shake), and even though a part of me thinks that I got lucky because I wrote about cases that I already read before (did I mention that the imposter syndrome is hard to shake?), I'm really pleased with the way things are going.
That said, I still have no fucking clue what my PhD is really about. I also cannot imagine how mind-blowing my work would've been if I hadn't started writing it at 7pm on Tuesday when it was due at 5pm on Wednesday. Further, my self-criticism is so strong that I still cannot look at what I submitted without feeling grossed out for the simple reason that it doesn't meet my own standards. I honestly think it's shit, which I think is because I know exactly how much work I put into it (not that much) and I'm disgusted at my own laziness.
That's the thing, isn't it? The thing is the writing. I always say that I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have good writing skills. I genuinely believe that a good writer can make her reader believe almost anything. A good writer can elevate bullshit into something that resembles vaguely decent academic work. I genuinely believe, too, that that was exactly what I did with the latest piece of writing.
I told Dominic that I suffer from the imposter syndrome. He said maybe I'd get over it by the end of my PhD. The thing is, I don't want to not suffer from it. I don't want to not have high standards that I can never reach. I think the day that I meet my own standards is the day that I stop being intellectually curious and stop challenging myself. It would probably help to stop being so lazy, but you know what they say about leopards and their spots.
Anyway, so that brought a spring to my steps for the rest of the day. I shall work again on my PhD on Monday. This weekend is all about London! I'm going to London on Saturday evening to meet Raquel and go clubbing with Sixuan. I can't wait! I will have dinner at Edward's on Sunday. I can't wait to have delicious home cooked food. Yay!
Tomorrow, though, I will spend my Friday evening in the library carrying out my duties as an editor of the Journal. It's due on the 22nd but since I don't plan to be around this weeked, I have to finish it by tomorrow night. I hope it's doable. I don't really know what I have to do yet, but I will figure it out.
I went shopping after my meeting with my supervisors. The aim was to buy a new coat - a proper winter coat - and after some fruitless wanderings into shops like River Island and TopShop, and a diversion into Warehouse that saw me leaving with a new dress and a new shirt (one that I tried on a few weeks ago but didn't buy, and it's now on discount!), I went into John Lewis and saw something that I liked. I resisted John Lewis because it doesn't have student discounts, but the high street brands were just selling crap. I took a look at the prices of some of the coats and once I saw that they were less than a hundred pounds, I couldn't be stuffed anymore.
I bought an orange coat from Hobbs London for 269 pounds. To me, it's so cheap. It's 100% wool and it's cheaper than my current winter coat, the blue one from iBlues, which was about SGD700ish and is only 70% or 80% wool. I'm so pleased with my purchase.
I was going to post a picture of it but I can't be bothered; I'm sure it will show up on Facebook at some point, when I wear it in the winter and take photos in it.
I was texting my mom the whole time when I was deciding between the two different colours that the coat comes in - navy and orange. I went to the Hobbs shop proper, and the salesgirl there was so cute. She kept encouraging me to get the orange because it's less boring and, in her words, everyone has a navy coat (I don't, though). I was almost going to get the navy, but my mom was also encouraging me to get the orange. In the end, I got the orange. I'm really excited about it.
I'm quite willing to spend money on something that's actually useful, like a winter coat. But there's simply no way that I would spend more than 100 pounds on a dress or a shirt or shoes. I'm on the Hobbs website and I think it is quite ridiculous that some dresses cost as much as my coat. It is just ridiculous. I wouldn't even feel comfortable wearing a dress that costs so much; I would keep feeling like I'm damaging it and it would ruin my enjoyment of the dress. Anyway, I firmly believe that it's not about how much your clothes cost, but how one wears them. I'm happy wearing my inexpensive clothes.
I also bought some random hair accessories from Accessorize. I've started to actually style my hair a bit these days! It's shocking, I know. That's not to say that I do that much; I'm too lazy to put in too much effort into these things (besides, the wind is so strong here that it messes up my hair anyway, like last night when I went to Caius for a formal with the Law PhD people). Still, it's better than what I usually do, which is...nothing.
I had a cake and coffee at Afternoon Tease again, then I came home and cooked and that was pretty much my day. It was a good day. I am feeling good. I like being in this mood. It even made the rainy wet cold weather somewhat tolerable.
I don't mean to gush, and I swear I am not gushing, but Dominic is so cute. Yesterday he finally messaged me at 11.07pm UK time after what I gathered was a long day in Paris. First, it was really nice that he still messaged me even though he was already going to bed; and second, his message contained this sentence:
Afterwards, they showed a documentary about the history of GR at the conference.
What is GR? I thought maybe it was a place, that it had something to do with France as he's in Paris; then I thought maybe it was a historical event, some revolution or something.
GR, in fact, stands for general relativity.
What can I say? Either he thinks I'm really intelligent, or he thinks his research/research area is more ubiquitous than it is. In any case, I thought it was really cute.
Lastly, I texted my mom and told her that my supervisors said that I write really well. Her response? 'Do you really write well? What about the other students?'
Ah, dear mother, I finally see where I get my competitiveness!
Lastly for real: formal at Caius (Gonville and Caius, which is pronounced 'keys') was nice. I drank too much port. It was probably not good port because I had a massive headache afterwards. But the food was good, and so was the company.
Lastly for real, for real: So I was walking through down in my awesome new River Island heeled ankle boots (that made my feet hurt after a few hours) in skinny jeans with nice hair, and I was feeling good after my meeting, and I was thinking, 'G'd better know what he's missing if he decides to give me up.'
In all honesty, I really want to see him. I really do. That's all.