For many, August is a month to relax, rest, travel and party. I am not a beach person, in fact I don’t understand the whole concept of frying myself under the toxic sun, speeding up my skin’s aging and putting myself at risk of skin cancer. Not to mention packed beaches. I prefer going to the mountains, preferably in the winter, as skiing is one of my favourite things.
On top of my busy work schedule, I spent August writing papers and filing applications to give talks; I need this to complete my PhD research. If I could get just one of the four applications accepted it would be great, I thought, and I could complete my obligation to present part of my research in an institution outside of my university.
The programmes were very different, so I couldn’t write one paper to submit to four different institutions, I had to write four papers.The whole plan was extremely ambitious. I can’t stop, I can’t slow down, I can’t restrict myself. After living on this planet for almost half a century, I still find it difficult to understand that the day has 24 hours. Mars seems a better plan for me, as its day has almost 25 hours – Mars, I am coming!
Did I think it through properly? That in such a short period of time I would have to produce four very different papers and compete with others who are also submitting? The fact is, I think too much about my research and I don’t think about whether I can deliver my ambitions. And why is that?
Studying philosophy, sociology and psychology, I came to a conclusion many years ago and it is always proven to be right – that there are two personality types. This is only based on my research; this is not part of an important academic study! Also, it’s very important to add that no personality is better, it’s also not about who is right and who wins more frequently. And it’s not about who can be more vulnerable – it is about how we approach life and how we handle it.
The ‘Peter Pan’ personality is how I describe those who like familiar things, who like things sorted and who require certain comforts. Peter Pan will always fly in one direction – to Neverland – where he lives in his story; whether it’s true or false doesn’t matter. The story is always the same, with the same people, Wendy, Tinker Bell and of course the Lost Boys!
I know some people with this personality, for instance a man who is a Peter Pan will not even look away from his garden, he will find his girlfriend in a radius of 15 metres, he’ll work out not just in the same gym, but also in the same room of this particular gym. He will never step outside of his environment, because Peter Pan’s identity is the most important element he carries. On the other hand, this personality type is also the most insecure; these individuals have the ability to fly, but only to the same place and in one direction. They are happy with very simple food, but in their assessment that food is the best ever.
Icarus is the other type of personality, also a flier, although Icarus finds it much more challenging to fly, because they need wings to do so – their life is not a fairy tale.
Their wings are glued on with wax and wax can melt in the sun. Icarus only flies because she or he wants to explore something new, and they fly way above the Earth, to see the world below from a different perspective and to explore everything new.
The risks Icarus takes are tremendous; their flight has no magic and their landing can mean falling and crashing to the ground, even breaking into pieces. But because Icarus can see many different places and experience the world from above, this can lead to the greatest achievements. Often, in Icarus’s life these achievements are not recognised, because flying anywhere means speeding up – Icarus can fly to the future, while Peter Pan always flies to the present. If there are too many Peter Pans around, Icarus might be given no value because who can compete with the magic and beauty of Neverland? So Icarus, unless he has many other Icaruses around, will most likely only get recognition after a big – perhaps the final – crash!
Both Peter Pan and Icarus know how to fight. Peter Pan always fights the same people (pirates and Captain Hook), whereas Icarus fights mostly with himself whenever he lifts his wings. I believe Icarus is a person who struggles on many levels to achieve something that is eventually good for humanity. I admire a friend of mine who throughout her career fought for justice; she was cheated out of a very important job and bad-mouthed by people, but today she is the elected president of a small European nation (and she drives super-fast motorbikes!). If you’re reading this analytical blog, you might have already worked out what type of personality you are.
In conclusion, I submitted four papers to four different institutions, thinking: if one can pick me up, this will be my jackpot. Have I thought about what if all of them pick me up? No, I was too busy to think about anything but my topics. I submitted the last one half an hour before the submission window closed. Then the waiting started: we were a few hours away from 1st September. The last few hours of August I spent on my ‘beach’: I opened a bottle and a genie popped out. “What is your first wish, Nina?”, he asked. But I felt so bad about all the other genies being trapped inside bottles that I had to release another one to its freedom. This time the story is not about wings, but about the unfurling of sails.