It’s okay to feel sad. I blame the weather. This past week has really brought on the winter feels. Usually I’m excited about winter – there’s the annual Southern Right Whale migration, fire pit evenings, and the chance to retreat into our homes and bit and slow things down. However, this year it feels different. There’s a hurried and nervous vibration in the air and it’s all because I am nearing the end of my candidature. So very near indeed, but it feels so far away still – there is so much to do.
We were warned that the HDR journey is akin to a rollercoaster ride, but it feels like the highs and lows are quite pronounced this final year. I am doing a lot more writing now, which also means that I am getting quite a bit of feedback on all the chapters and manuscripts. All of it is very helpful and constructive feedback but I cannot help feeling a little bit disappointed in myself. Usually, I’d jump straight into addressing all the comments and keep plugging away – but not this time. This time my hands felt heavier. I struggled to write. It took me twice as long to write one paragraph as it usually does.
I took a deep breath and as I exhaled, I realized I was exhausted. I needed a minute. In fact, I just needed to sit with my tea and allow myself to feel exhausted and disappointed at the same time. As I did, I looked out the window and noticed that the sun was peeking through the clouds. I took my cup of tea and sat outside in the backyard instead. I kept asking myself, “How am I going to finish this dissertation?”.
I finished my tea, popped the cup in the kitchen inside, and decided to spend a few more minutes outside sitting with my feelings of sadness. This time, I play some music as well – and I wouldn’t call it wallowing but I did end up listening to the Melancholy Mix playlist on Spotify. For some reason, listening to other people’s words and sadness felt like a bit of a balm. It felt like company, and it felt like I was giving myself permission to have a slow day. I probably only sat out there for half an hour until I started feeling better – not happy, but not sad anymore. In fact, I recognized that the feeling turned into gratitude. I wanted to go back to my desk and continue writing my dissertation – I was grateful that for these years of my life, this was a constant meaningful pursuit, and I am grateful for it.
It's okay to feel sad. Life is not all about happiness. Joy is in the calm, in the rest, in the stillness. Joy can be found at rest. I was more productive when I let go of controlling and suppressing my feeling of sadness. It was almost like saying, “I see you, Sadness. I’ll sit with you. Teach me what you need me to know and then be on your way.”.