The personal. The personal side of anyone is so very unique, so very defiant, so very colourful, yet so very dark and hindered with their own battles – yet also their own victories, challenges that they’ve overcome, and most of all, people they’ve met along the way who have aided them in coming leaps and bounds, or a mere footstep, in front of their last hurdle.
At this moment, I’m going to place a ‘warning’ for the personal, to the confronting, so if you don’t wish to read then please don’t and go back.
Each person is on their own journey. This journey is the one they’ve chosen, however one that has been influenced by copious factors from everyday routine to personal inhibitors. These inhibitors however can be used against us, or for us. In times of need, they may work for us – or against us. With emotional attachment, it makes the journey even harder. This road then is made tougher by the emotional, attached to the personal.
Every person, every individual, no matter what path they’ve been or gone down, has used their personal to either jump a hurdle, or step back from the hurdle. At this time in a research journey, the personal may have an influence, both for and against, both emotionally and personally – internally.
But what if you’d commenced this journey without your number one fan, what if this journey was made all the harder for that person not being there, yet made it easier because you knew it was an expectation of that person for you to continue, to go on, and to follow the path you’d set?
What if a year before you commenced you were confronted with the biggest challenge of your life to date. What if at that moment in time everything was going extraordinary, and then you lost your biggest fan?
If you were alone, confronted with a situation that your biggest fan was immobile, yet conscious – and asked for your help, however you knew you couldn’t and had to seek a higher help? If that fan was your father, and had had a stroke, and you were the one to find him, to comfort him, wait with him, and call for help, run for help, then return and wait for help to arrive. And, if you were alone, just you and him, waiting, not being able to do anything in fear that things would be made worse, except to try and make him a little more comfortable if that was remotely possible. Then, as a routine, pack an overnight bag as you were adamant things would be okay then bring it to his bedside in the hospital. But what if you also knew that he’d been like that for hours, nearly all day, until you’d popped around to check – then noticed the reason why he’d not answered any of your countless calls that day, was because he was laying less than a meter away from his phone, and couldn’t move – as he was immobile.
You’re confronted with decisions, from calling other personals to who were not around, not near, nor close. You’re confronted in letting them know if they should book their flight to say a goodbye. This wasn’t going to happen, things were going too well, things were okay, he was strong, he’d pull through. It was only two days away from a graduation that he was going to attend – the first in his life, your life. Mind you, it was only the same day that you’d also got rejected to commence your PhD.
You’re at the side of your number one fan, and although he’s asked you for help you know you can’t – that you’re not allowed in fear for making things worse. The phone goes again, and you’re the one to explain what’s happened, what you were confronted with, what you’re dealing with – with one of your best friends in a hospital bed whilst you sit by their side – waiting. You wait, then you come back the next day, and you wait again. You’re asked if you want him brought back to life if the inevitable happens. You know this won’t happen, you know it can’t happen, but you let them know your decision; after all, it’s just you, by yourself, no personal to turn to that isn’t within reach, it’s your decision and yours to make alone, right then and there.
You’re told he’s okay, he’ll be okay through the night, so you go and catch up on sleep. The phone rings in the middle of the night. Your other best friend (parent) answers the phone – your heart stops. Your heart skips a beat. It’s like only yesterday it happened, yet the memories are over two years old. You hear footsteps coming to your room, and your mother breaks the news. A best friend, your biggest fan, your biggest supporter, yet the one who always expected the best from you and nothing less – had been taken.
You arrive and see for yourself. One last hug. You take the jacket off him that you’d left to keep him warm that night. Your mum is there, but nothing can be said. You’re the one to close his eyes, you’re the one to pull the sheet up, you’re the one who has to eventually make the decision to turn away, to walk away, and leave your best friend right there – and remain numb, numb to the core, with only another parent to turn to who’s lost a best friend too.
Momentous occasions happen to all of us, but it’s up to us to how we let these events shape us. One of many that have happened since, one of many that have brought the numbness alive, and one of many that have kept one foot in front of the other. To mark this occasion, the commencement of the PhD started one year later – one year later after being rejected, one year later after realising you can’t stop pushing forward, and one year later till the next journey was to take place. This journey has encompassed everything from becoming an auntie, to hearing about a niece being taken away from their mother without any location or knowing, on several occasions, a time where a bone graft was required for health, a time that also saw a grandparent pass shortly after their son had gone, yet it has also been a time of great challenge, of running strengths of multiple ultra runs, and a time to sit down and achieve something, to put a business on hold, to start an artistic endeavour, then to recap and continue the academic journey that is being faced. In five months it will mark three years, in five months it will mark two years since this journey has started, and in five months it will mark an exit point acceptable for submission. Therefore, this is my goal.
No matter what we’re faced with in life, we all have our own challenges, we all have our own individual journeys and we all have our own personal to tell. This is my personal. I encourage all researchers alike to share their personal so each researcher knows that they aren’t alone in their journey, that others out there also battle with their personal, with the emotional, and surge through someone to continue along their PhD journey. And although these memories and experience are a part of us, although there are days made harder by these thoughts, and even if you’re reminded of this on a daily basis, you’ve got a journey to continue, you’ve got a thesis to write, and one to submit.
May my dad rest soundly in heaven and may he be proud of the mark I aim to contribute and leave within my field.