The past two years have been difficult- and the last year has been well- beyond difficult and I guess to put it lightly its been relatively miserable. Did you know that I have an elbow that lets me know when I am stressed? Yes- your body responds to stress in crazy ways and one of the ways my body has told me that I am not doing well is through my elbow! It suddenly flares up, hurts really bad, and gets really dry and puffy and only does this when I am feeling overwhelmed and super duper stressed. (I should have realised my relationship was doomed when over Christmas I was on a train and couldn't figure out why my elbow was suddenly swelling! But that is another post for another day- should be titled something like: Long distance, PhDs and realising your worth more than what you are getting) Anyway- needless to say, I am writing this with a very puffy elbow.
People describe the completion of a PhD as anti-climatic. I don't necessarily feel that way. When I submitted my final copy- I actually felt ecstatic. I felt accomplished and I felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel. The viva however, simply made me feel like there isn't really a light at the end of the tunnel- because I am still stuck in that stupid dark tunnel and what I really saw was just a mirage!
I am at the point that I don't even want to look at or talk about my thesis, and while I think the results are interesting, I am now questioning the entire piece of work. Surely, it is good to be critical and reflective- but I want to just put in a box and lock it away. I hope that will change one day- but for now, I have to open it back up make a few changes and then pray that they are good enough to be accepted so it can be bound, submitted and be part of my past. I do hope that on that day- I feel like celebrating. Because while I am told that the milestone of passing a viva is something to be celebrated- all I really want to do is cry, sleep, and use my instapot (Another blog post about a life changing kitchen device and definitely feels more exciting than a PhD at this point). Yesterday, I was sent this article on the thesis whisperer about what it feels like to be finished. Check it out- but be prepared to be instantly depressed!
This article resonates with me heavily- and its mostly to do with feelings of inadequacy. The viva has made me question every angle of my work that makes me feel like even though the corrections are small and manageable, that the work itself is simply not good enough to be shared with others and that while I passed, and while I am now a Dr. I am deeply questioning my abilities as a researcher.
I am not going to go into the details of the viva itself (as I found the process to make my elbow look and feel like a case of elephantiasis), but I am going to focus on the gratefulness I feel for the crowd of people that were waiting for me after I completed to hug and celebrate with me! It is so amazing to know that I am loved so much/that well beyond the hours of the work day- people were waiting and ready to congratulate me. Even though I never showed up to be congratulated I am very aware of their love and support! It makes me also thankful that they recognised my need to mentally process what had just happened (you know… to cry and work through all the feelings I was having after the most stressful life event). It is those times, I am reminded what an introvert I actually am (Something that I don’t think many people realise about me)- but being so exhausted the thought of several people wanting to me and pop bottles of champagne just made me want to crawl up in a hole and die! My colleagues (ahem.. my friends) who were there for me then, and have been there for me through this entire process. Thank you!
Don’t worry- The day didn’t end with me sat alone in my office! It just became a much smaller introvert style celebration. Two of my friends (Sara and Emmy) sat steadfast in the office- waiting for my return and after I vented about the entire experience and finally said… I need a drink, where should we go? I was magically crowned queen for the day, the Prosseco was popped and I was able to have celebratory bubbles! It also came with a block of cheese (manchego like the best cheese ever) and quince paste! So the evening ended with smiles, laughs, and a few more tears (obviously)! I definitely was feeling loved (yes, even by those guys who waited for me and kindly left- I mean The whatsapp messages were coming in left and right with so much excitement and kindness). I look forward to properly celebrating with everyone once the final bound copy is submitted- I think it is then that I will be ready to really party!
While the next day, I will admit that all I wanted to do is stay in bed and cry (which I did until 2 PM) my friend Sara came to the rescue again and made me get dressed and go out for coffee. Our little coffee adventure continued to the wee hours of the next day by us joining other friends we hadn’t seen in ages for drinks at a local bar (very cool place: https://www.facebook.com/brauhausEdinburgh/) . After catching up, some more laughs (and no tears!) the night ended with small tour of my new part of town (you know another life event- moving!) because we needed to find late night/early morning essentials ( umm.. you know Edinburgh classics- CHIPS, KEBABS etc.)
All in all the week has been hard to describe- a bit of a roller coaster if I am honest and while I am still crying on and off.. I am also still finding the time to smile, share meals with friends and just begin the decompressing process. As my stress levels are still very high and I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, I certainly look forward to the the elbow returning back to normal and of course celebrating the fact that I am Dr. Webb in the near future with anyone who is willing to celebrate with me- but for now, thanks for letting me process everything,letting me be the introvert that I am and letting me work through all of these feelings of inadequacy- I know I will come out on the other side stronger. #Resilience #PhD #Dr