Hardly anything can offer consolation to a heart in true despair. Yet I would like to venture a try. Having read what you have written several days ago, which is an article by a heroin deprived of her muscle, I came to the realization that your disappointment and misfortune had lasted a lot longer than I had expected. I would hope this short essay could lend you some strength, but I must also confess that the deprivation of optimism by my observation of what has consecutively happened in your life has led to the most cautious style of writing.
I. The Art of Advising
At beginning, I must question the utility of friendship. Once I thought friendship is to offer compassion in difficulty and to share enjoyment in gaiety. Later it came to my realization that friendship might demand more than that. When I was taking my share of misfortune, I longed for compassion; I spent hours and hours trying to find a single ear who could stay on the line and absorb all my complaints. But it didn't work. My situation did not get better, and the person I relied on so much proved to have a genuine ignorance of how my situation should be dealt with. I was forced, as a consequence, to seek after the more rational minds, minds that could offer thoughtful suggestions.
I had to bear the side effects, though. Thoughtful suggestions always come with some real criticism, criticism of a nature to elevate my existing anxiety and exacerbate my lack of confidence. So the challenge became, how could I best distill the advice and hold the unwanted criticism in blindness? You have always criticized me for remarking you or offering you suggestion without considering how well you could accept it. You criticized me for overlooking your emotions. But I do not know how to offer suggestions, had you had not a single feux pas, and had I not had employed reason. Your lack of judgment and reason sometimes is appalling; your take of some apparent failures is quite negative; your attribution of fault to the society is abnormally consistent. You seem to have one of the most distorted understandings of how one's educational credential should earn her a place in society--one with a doctor degree should reign the world.
II. The Nature of Academics
When I was in Chicago, once I was having brunch with a good friend. She graduated with high recognition from an esteemed Ph.D. program, and was then working in a chemical corporation. She was so frustrated so as to complain that college graduates with five years' consulting experiences earn a lot more than her. Your frustration, as I see, sounds a lot similar to hers. Having obtained a doctor degree after years' of extreme hard work, your value in the workplace is reduced to a few thousand RMB, barely earning you any esteem so wanted in your upbringing. A doctor degree looks like nothing when it comes to your options of workplace. When you were looking for jobs, you liked the stability of academia and the fact that your credentials have prepared you well for that career; when you are working in a university, you second guessed your thought and opined that you were not a good fit for academia.
I would hardly imagine that you were unaware, before making a decision to delve into academia, that the first years of an academic life is essentially equivalent to impoverishment, particularly if you were to put peers in comparison. Max Weber, my favorite philosopher, once told young men with ambitions in academic adventures, "lasciate ogni speranza," French for "give up all hope." The good time of scientific work being conducted by the richest and the most aristocratic has eternally elapsed; the current industry of academia is more like a pyramid that few rise to the top. There is no longer an equation between science and social status and wealth, and you know that. Earning a Ph.D. is hardly more than an entrance ticket to the pyramid, and perhaps you harvest more investment by borrowing money from the banks and gambling in the real estate upsurge.
I am sorry if I have, by the above, disheartened you. That's because I have suffered my own share of the pain, and realized that I needed to break out of the realm. When I graduated from Cambridge, my dissertation was credited as one of the best. I was ambitious and saw my career projection as one of changing the minds, bridging the West and the East, and step-stoning for something really encouraging in intellectual history. So I walked with Prof. John Dunn on the lawn in King's College, enjoying the honor that none can walk through the lawn apart from with the most accomplished professor. I asked him how he views an academic life, and what about my earning a Ph.D. He said he highly discouraged so; he thought I must have better things to do, such as, experiencing life.
One with her heart truly laid on academia should not be daunted by a professor's mere words. But my hesitation made me realize that I did not want it in the first place. I am very fond of literacy, philosophy, and politics--none of which truly demands a Ph.D. degree. In a leisure afternoon, with a book or two, lying on the beach of Jeju Island. Perhaps the more important thing is a ticket to Jeju instead of a book, if I already can have the book so easily, but a ticket looks so far-fetched.
If, just if, you think you are really not an academic material, why don't refocus on something else, such as a ticket to the Jeju Island?
I saw your application to a national fund got denied. It is very normal, and many people joke it away, or attribute it to some impropriety at the administration. You said that no one listens to you when you are lecturing. You said that there is a lot of pressure associated with researching and lecturing. I realize that these feelings are deeply related to your craving for recognition. You have no fault; no man can function well in an environment of constant denial and negative feedback.
But on the other hand, I do not understand those people who are constantly craving for laud. There can be no surer sign of dis-confidence than this. I have twice walked away from men whom I found are just interested in enjoying superiority over their mates rather than having a real conversation. I wonder how this could ever make one happy if his closest companion is one of inferior judgment or talent, and how disdaining other people behind closed doors could raise his social status or what. Certainly if you are not suited by men like this, you are blessed; as it may reflect some uniqueness on your part that only the truly mindful hearts can discover. This is exactly the attitude when you are facing social denials, for you do not need much applause to become successful.
But you do need to have the courage to ignore them, and the ability to shed a positive light on them. It is this part that I saw lacking from your spirit.
IV. Change or Fear
Perhaps you want to change. Remaining in the status quo might cause fear, and it takes a long time to recover. Change is not so daunting in many ways; I thought my last career in IP was so hopeless that I jumped ship; I was desperate about the prospect of changing practices and I could not find a job in the U.S.; the employers were all willing to consider me for an IP role instead of the practice I wanted to transition into. But it worked; after the most assiduous application process in my life, I landed a job that paid better, with better working environment, and around friendlier people. Oh, the process was indeed daunting, and I lost so many of my strong nerves.
I know you have considered the possibility of changing. But frankly, you are never prone to change. You'd rather sink. You doubt how much value you could bring to the table, and you'd rather complain about the inequalities you face rather than take a positive spin on it. You need to understand that discrimination is everywhere, and you cannot eliminate it by complaining.
You take too many things for granted; and you lost even more by taking them for granted. No individual is willing to shoulder disproportionate burden, including your best friends. But after listening to his side of the story, his indifference can indeed be tolerated. Sometimes people think those seemingly weak people deserve empathy and sympathy, because they look so vulnerable. But only the wise people will know vulnerability invites imprudent decisions and greed, because they are always in a position to accept, without questioning if they should be accepting in the first place.
When I was in despair, I hoped for sane thoughts. But unfortunately people chose not to tell me what I have been done wrong. But I do not long for your appreciation. You might find this letter harsh and not worthy. But this is perhaps the last writing I have to offer. I can hardly think of what else I can do.
Aug. 4, 2018.