I did it. I submitted my PhD thesis. About a month ago I took the walk over to Otago University’s Clock Tower, and handed over three year’s worth of work.
It was a strange feeling. I thought I’d be jumping for joy. I wasn’t. In fact, if I really had to name an emotion, it would be ill (is that an emotion?). Anyway, I felt ill. How strange is that? Although the thesis was ready, and despite my perfectionism in other aspects of my life, I never intended to labour over my thesis for longer than necessary trying to make it perfect, so I should have been happy to be submitting. And I suppose really I was. But it was masked for a long while by the feeling of a loss of control. I had surrendered my work to three people who will decide my fate in the world of academia (well, they’ll decide whether I’m allowed through the gates).
It’s been a tough three years. I started out idealistic, probably like most new PhD students. My topic excited me, the department amazed me, Dunedin was marvellous. Then the second year (mid-PhD) blues ensued. I discovered writer’s block – and I figured a great cure was sleeping ’til noon. A brilliant avoidance strategy. Avoiding a problem makes it go away, right? Wrong! After a stern talking to (aka a telling-off) by my fellow officemates, I resolved to do something. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it was going to be something. One of my supervisors asked if that ‘something’ I was going to do was quit, but I assured him that I would not quit. And I did not. Did I consider it? Yes, very seriously. Particularly after reading stories about the state of academia in terms of job placement for postgraduates. We’re not in a good position, and probably most academics know it. They may not tell new students (where’s the money in that), but it is tougher than ever to get one’s foot in the door of the acadme. There are too many graduates and not enough jobs. So yes, I did consider quitting. But, I persevered and completed the task I had idealistically set out to do.
I’ve learnt that probably one of my best skills is determination – and that’s a good thing to know. As the excitement wore off and the loathing began, I kept going. Others, namely my supervisors and staff in the Bioethics Centre, learnt that when I utter the words “Don’t worry, it’ll get done,” whatever that ‘it’ is, it WILL get done. And that’s a good thing for others to know about me. I feel that my determination and perseverance will get me a job, even if the PhD doesn’t, so I’m not giving in to worry and concern about the future.
During the time I wait for my results I’m going to have fun lecturing philosophy (I’ve been given a short contract at another uni) and writing papers. I’m going to try and live a guilt free existence, if only for one semester.
If you’re at all interested in seeing how things go with me, then hop on over to my own personal blog, From the Broom Closet. This is where I’ll be blogging from now on. Since submitting my thesis, I’ve moved back to my home town, so I’m handing over the reins of this blog, though I’m sure I’ll be an avid commenter. I’ve really enjoyed my time writing for ACB, but now it’s time to step out on my own. I’m sad to have left Dunedin, but I’m excited to begin this new chapter in my life.