I’m uncertain about everything today. For a lot of my life, and I’m really not that old, I’ve insisted on, and even fought for, doing things my way. I’ve always known what I wanted and I’ve tried hard to get it, no matter what. But today I feel uncertain about what I want to do tomorrow. Some day, in the not too distant future, my PhD will be finished and I’ll be launched out into a new world of PhD-completedness, a world where I’ve achieved a level of enlightenment only a fraction of other people ever achieve, and the onus will be on me to do something with it. But I don’t know what.

I’ve wanted to be an academic for some years now. I’d say the idea first dawned on me in honours class, 2 years ago, when I was tossing up going into an MA in education or starting a much longer, and much lonelier, PhD. I think I thought I’d end up in higher places, somehow able to see the world with a better degree of wisdom. I don’t know about that any more, but whatever happens, I’m going to end up an academic whether I like it or not! At least that part’s certain.

It’s been more than 8 years since I left Australia. Things have changed so much in that time I don’t know how I’d feel if I were back. But I’ve been having these ideas of teaching at Monash and trying to develop this really innovative new way of approaching teaching. I just don’t know what. I look at my research now and can barely manage to envisage its implications for my thesis, let alone the wider sector in the country, or the world. It’s probably unsurprising that this is the case, and yet there’s this deep sense of urgency that I feel inside, as if I’m already running late for something, like I’ve got to hurry up and change the world before it’s too late. People keep telling me not to work so hard, to stop worrying, to take a break. But I can’t. Because that sense of urgency is real. People don’t realise that. But it’s real. The time we have in life is so short, so uncertain. Everything’s fine one day, and the next day, who knows. I could be gone tomorrow.

To die at 23 was so young. It was far too young. You think of what his family must be going through and you know the pain must be insufferable.

Yes, life is this short.

In a year’s time I will have submitted my thesis, I’ll be preparing for my viva, and by next summer my PhD will be finished. And I will be 23.

And then what?

And then what.