The final weeks of 2020 are already upon us and yes, we are still doing this. When the quarantine began, back in March, I would make a paper flower per day in order to better count the days. Making these was useful to distinguish Monday from Saturday, to feel like time was moving forward and that life, somehow, continued. My intention was not to create a metaphor. I wanted to do something with my hands other than typing, clicking, or swiping. I wanted my actions to happen in the real world, even if the digital was suddenly master of it. I carried on making flowers until the many folds of paper I had bought were gone and a total of 140 flowers, the physical representation of the same number of days, lay before me. I made this last one on the evening of August 1st.
Almost a month later I submitted my dissertation to my committee, and about a month after that, on October 16, I successfully defended it. The flowers are gone, my doctoral pursuit, which lasted seven years, is gone, but yes, we are still in the midst of this pandemic and we will be until most of the world is vaccinated. My days are now spent scrolling down LinkedIn job posts in search for jobs outside academia. The amount of jobs I am not eligible for is overwhelming but I carry on, adding filters, changing key words, making lists, hoping I can find myself somewhere underneath what feels like a pile of rubble. Yes, we are still doing self-doubt and self-pity, completing a doctorate does not eradicate these. I also create collages and I write and design courses for book clubs and literary workshops. I have been (safely) spending time with my family and eating delicious food. I can’t complain. But I do. Then I feel bad about it. Yes, we are still doing guilt.
I am not entirely sure of who I will be once this year and the pandemic which ruled it are gone. I think I have seen glimpses of this other me. Certain structures have begun to crack. It is possible the light that is shining now on places it could not reach before will bring new life. I would love to rearrange myself as if I was my living room. I want to be welcoming, I want to have a purpose, and to bring people together. I want to be the paper flower that continues to count the days, blooming in the middle of difficulty.