It’s a Tuesday afternoon, a bit dreary outside and I’m on the second floor of the new Arts building at the now infamously antisemitic Melbourne University (it’s not actually antisemitic but because of the student body’s resolution, etc, etc etc). I’m in my weekly tutorial about the history of Stalinism and it has now become the perfect habitat for my creative pursuits. I’m glued to a chair, I have my laptop charged, I’m near a window and I couldn’t be more zoned out if I tried.
Trying to listen to the tutor.
But my mind goes.
It goes to wishes, to ambitions that I don’t have. A wish of an ambition I guess. Is it possible to find something that I’m good at, so that I can excel, and that I enjoy, and that is a tad rebellious but also socially accepted and empowered by others? Wait, plus a good pay cheque $$$$!!
Maybe writing, but I can’t even give enough time and attention to read other people’s books. Huh – a writer that is so in her head and distracted that she can’t even read other people’s work. Who would want to read hers? I didn’t even choose literature or creative writing subjects at uni. A double major in Creative Writing and Psychology (even though you technically can’t do that) – I think that’s what I’d pick now as I’m about to finish my degree. But if I had done that, I probably would have told myself I shoulda just done History and Politics. Can I ever be write? Sorry, that pun was necessary.
This tutor is currently going on about 1929 collectivisation – successful or not successful? I’m typing away at this, my hair is flicked over my shoulder and people probably think I have my life together while writing a top essay. It’s funny, other people are also taking notes and looking at old essays but maybe they are writing and looking at monologues like these. Are they also out of breath? Funny, from now on, every time you see someone taking notes in a formal setting, looking a little out of breath and intensely absorbed in what they are doing, know that they are definitely writing a stream of consciousness piece.
His stature holds stable but you know he is hollow and crisp enough to be folded seven times. Apparently nothing can be folded more than seven times. His crinkled, cheap dark chino pants and static-like blue shirt puffs loosely out of his tightened belt, like a good intentioned doll that’s a bit random. A quarter of his bald head reflects the thin, sterile white lights above. My tutor.
In my head I thought I’d ‘live’ and then write. But why not write and then live? The most accessible books for me are about women in their thirties, but that’s just because women in their twenties are too busy dealing with imposter syndrome. My thoughts…no way? My experiences…still too raw. I need to go through a couple more existential crises before I can be something. She was messy, she was crazy, she went through that really bad breakup, she found herself, had a love affair, but left it because in the rut of it she finally received her double vax of empowerment and enlightenment. Why do I have to roll around in mud, run around, have a shower and then a bath, and then moisturise to be pristine enough to write about my experiences? I currently only have a bit of mud on me, I’m just about to start rolling around, and those first pieces of mud are still dirt, and jawing, and my lifetime.
Absolutely no one needs to hear about the whims of a 22-year old Arts student who is too in her head for her own good. But anyhow, I’m excited to be in the imposter syndrome club. I’ve self-diagnosed myself and I now get to take my seat (can I? Is that okay or was someone else sitting there?). I’ve heard that people have professional imposter syndrome on such a level that they think: I can’t possibly have imposter syndrome…to have imposter syndrome you have to doubt your skills, etc…I don’t even think I know how to doubt. Maybe one day I’ll be a professional like that.
It’s a few weeks from that dreary Tuesday and I’m looking at my notes on Stalinism and I keep seeing this stream of consciousness amidst dot points on the Great Terror. Like a first-hand account from a war zone. A piece of shrapnel from my mind.
So I say to all the confused twenty-somethings (whether you’re actually in your twenties or amidst the terror that happens when options and expectations collide): submit that stream of consciousness piece, book that one-way ticket, apply for that course, quit that job, sign that lease. At least, I’ve just done two out of five of those things. Now it’s time to get back to Stalin and procrastinate a little longer.