I am a Ph.D student in English literature, a writer, and a runner. I read a lot, write a lot, and run a lot. All of these things challenge me in ways nothing else does. I’ve never published, never won a big race, and am still in that twilight zone of graduate student existence where claiming identity as a real academic seems somewhat disingenuous, as much of my time tends to be occupied by meta-levels of procrastination, and calculations of pages that must be read to hours of hypothetical sleep. It can be hard to take yourself seriously when you spend the moments before stipend day dreaming about the Thai food and almond croissants you’ll soon be able to (briefly) afford.
I’ve spent many years feeling very confused about who I am. When I dropped out of college in the spring of my sophomore year, I felt completely untethered from who I always thought I was, because I was no longer a student, and so no longer tied to some institution, a greater entity than myself, that I had always linked inextricably to my identity. The question what do you do? terrified me, because I did not realize that what I do and who I am are not necessarily the same. I was ashamed, absurdly so, to have to say that I was a waitress, and anxiously hoped no one would ask why I wasn’t a student anymore. It took years and a substantial amount of self-reflection, but eventually I was able to imagine myself, construct myself, and know myself, as a person who writes, who runs, who reads, who thinks and does and loves and is a lot of other things.
So this is where I am now, why I was able to make it all the way into a Ph.D program after my two-year tenure as a college dropout, why I have decided to keep writing for myself, whatever that means in the long run about making the transition from writer to published author, and why I am now doing what has been a goal of mine since my freshman year in college: training for a marathon.