This year has so far been a blur of out-of-reach ambition, sucky time management and an onslaught of illnesses. I am racing against time to make a name for myself before I graduate — an extremely understated summary of the laundry list of requirements needed to be considered for a Tier 1 Visa. My goal is to be able to stay in the UK without having to forever juggle between academia and career — without having to be treated as a subnormality whose credibility must be accounted for by a Nine-to-Five tyranny. Gods know what morally depraved ‘unforgiveables’ a female mammal from a high risk country might get up to if she’s left to her own devices.
Getting a Tier 1 Visa right now seems like an impossibility. I am required to win awards like BAFTAs or the Man Booker Prize etc. And that’s on top of having to be famous and critically acclaimed in at least two countries. RIP.
Right now, I am relying entirely on my Tier 4 Student Visa to prove my right to be here. Let’s be real. It’s near impossible to work as a freelancer when you’re from a country that hasn’t been once upon a time be colonised — there are special programmes and youth schemes for Commonwealth nationals, but not for us because once upon a time we managed to dodge a massive kick to the groin by Sir Colonial Conquest.
My mother said, ‘It’s the price we have to pay for never having been invaded.’ Damn right, it is. While I am proud that we have never been invaded, the bureaucratic payoff for maintaining national independence sucks big time. In the 21st century, the fruit of our ancestor’s diplomatic labour now tastes more like a punishment than an actual payoff. Moreover, not making it onto the list of ‘Low Risk Countries’ — aka the Commonwealth — carry with it some very unflattering implications.
For a while now, I’ve been getting pulled in all directions, barely able to keep afloat the impossible balance between career and academia. All the while, the clock is ticking ever closer to the day that this country will be able to legally rid itself of me (lest I apply for MA, then phD and shackle myself forever to my Tier 4 Student Visa. Even if I sell my organs, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the tuition fees for ‘international students’ on top of the ££££ upfront for visa applications, and to what end? To forever juggle career and academia like some court jester to a kafkaesque crown to perpetuate its bureaucratic tyranny until I drop dead).
This is certainly not a way to live, I can tell you that. With medical evidence. Health-wise, I am just short of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder — at first the doctor thought it might be arthritis. Before that, they thought it was a simple matter of infection. But since my illness kept getting worse, even after I took the antibiotics, I was then sent to get my blood tested. The result did not clear me from arthritis, as the anti-nuclear factor came out as SPECKLED. According to the doctor — who said ‘I hate it when it does that’ — explained that such result could mean either there is nothing wrong with me — despite the evidently increasing joint problems and my dysfunctional hand — or it is some form of autoimmune disorder. I have been referred to a rheumatologist, but the earliest appointment is on 29 January 2019 — more than two months from now.
On top of that, for the last two weeks, I’ve got a cold — fevers, loss of voice, cold sweat, feeling like death etc. I don’t know. At this point, I’m probably just better off dead.
As someone (perhaps it was a lecturer or a peer, I can’t even remember) said, ‘Things really aren’t going well for you at the moment’.
But that’s life, to be honest. There are so many times I want to give up — to throw in the towel and say, ‘I’m out.’ I have tried, a couple of times throughout my life. But I’m still here — and I don’t know why. Maybe I haven’t tried hard enough to find a legit exit, as opposed to those trick ones that turned out to be walls. Or maybe life isn’t quite done with me. Maybe some part of me still wants to believe that things will work out eventually as long as I keep going. If I live long enough and work hard enough, good things will have to happen to me sooner or later. Right?
I don’t know how I’ve been doing it. How I’m still doing it. How I carry on, I mean. Most days life is but a battle I have with myself and with the nitty-gritty of the outside world. There are so many things to do, so many people to please, so many tasks I have to trick myself into completing to the best of my ability to get to where I want to be. I wish my life isn’t so hectic. I wish my life isn’t a checklist of accomplishments to be acquired in order to not get booted out of the country. I wish my life isn’t a race against time, against fate, against myself.
And yet it is.
And there isn’t anything I can do about it, except to keep moving forward. Since I haven’t been very good at dodging misfortunes, I guess the only option is to face them head-on with a smile on my face in spite of how shitlessly scared I am of what’s to come. Who knows. The next set of rotten eggs fate hurls at me might turn out to be creme eggs. The next rug yanked out from under my feet could be a magic carpet.
Blind hope? Yes, I’m well aware. Still, what other options do I have but to believe in a world where efforts yield good results? This is the world into which I was born. This is the life I was dealt — I have to believe.
How do you live when life keeps getting in the way? I don’t know. Just keep going. Set your sight far ahead — so far ahead that the problems of today seem like nothing but pebbles on the road. Work actively towards the future you want to realise. Stay focused. Keep going.
Just keep going.