Thursday, 15 March 2012

Egocentric Update

Since this is a personal blog afterall I will change tack from the usual abstraction of ideas to writing a toast to my own recent life.

One could measure his days by the books he reads. For my recent past, I have the following to offer:

Rob Kurzban's Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite
Doug Kenrick's Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life
Stephen MacKnik & Susana Martinez-Conde's Sleights of Mind
David Buss's The Murderer Next Door
Mark van Vugt's Naturally Selected
Tony Clink's The Plan
John Townsend's What Women Want - What Men Want
Kay Hymowitz's Manning Up
Paul Davies's About Time
Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape and The Naked Woman
Geoffrey Miller's Spent
George Orwell's 1984 (yes, very late, but better late than never)
Robert Ornstein's The Evolution of Consciousness
Richard Wrangham's Demonic Males
Richard Wiseman's Quirkology
Ernst Gombrich's A Brief History of The World

A more concrete narrative of my life would probably revolve around the time I graduated from SMU and the whirlwind period between then and now, marked by the heady days of cheerfully preparing my graduate school admissions applications, the trip to San Diego for the SPSP Conference, working at Behavioural Sciences Institute, all the interesting little politickings happening in the academic office, and the anxiousness of not getting the most ideal responses from those graduate programmes I wanted to go to.

I can't quite complain about the life I've had from August last year til now. I've got a job that pays me a decent monthly salary that allows me to, kind of, do whatever I want, whenever I want. I've got great colleagues - all budding academics with egos so huge they want nothing to do with you unless you've got something to offer, which is great. I've been encouraged so much, particularly at that now distant and somewhat faded period of time between November and December where recommendation letters from my professors poured in, and I'm grateful for them. I looked all set to go - I published a paper in Personality and Individual Differences (which is still in press now but forthcoming soon) which I adapted from my honours thesis. On top of the award I received for my thesis, I also clinched the Baylis & Smith Oxford University Press award for the best world politics essay. That was a surprise. I was also given an Oxford University Press book voucher, which I used to acquire John Lewis Gaddis's We Now Know - Rethinking Cold War History.

Then the rejections started coming in. Anxiety, to some extent, reared its small ugly head for the first time. I'm never one to be fazed by things, so I tided through that phase, hoping for the best. Nothing came along. From 8 schools, I was down to 2 last options. Then things got both buoyed and complicated by an acceptance letter from SMU (which is not included in those 8 ideal schools). I was back to having to make a decision. That period of time from February to March made me see some of the strangest behaviours in my professors. And then I learnt the reason why I kept getting rejected - one by one, all the prospective mentors I sought after and emailed vehemently started deciding they did not want to accept students. Almost all, except for UPenn. No surprise there with its ivy league status. Now, that was irritating. What do you do when you ask a prospective mentor if he's taking students and he says yes, and then after you've done up all the documents and paid the hefty registration fee s/he says that s/he's changed her mind?

So now it's down to 2 schools left, or SMU. SMU isn't all that bad, but it can never offer that experience of training and living abroad for at least 4 years.

My salary, although decent, can never be enough. I do so much stuff on the side, drawing, writing and editing.

I'm meeting people every other day, exchanging so many ideas and hearing so many perspectives, it's fuckin' good times. Some days I work up to 18 hours, but it doesn't feel like work at all. And then yet I still have the freedom to visit my old friend, Le Baroque, every now and then. These days, guestlists are a common fixture and unless I'm invited to VIP, I'm a spoilt slug.

While I'm on a high with my projects, publications, awards and social life, the one thing that will determine my future is caught in a jam right now. But I have a month left to decide. Let that slowly come, but when it does, I'll put my foot down on it. I believe that life is measured by one's regrets, so choose wisely, don't sweat the small stuff and regret nothing.

1 comment:

QH said...

don't do ur phd locally man. You will get so much more exposure overseas and also build a global collaboration network. Your chances of getting a faculty job back in SG (if that's your plan) will also be much higher...