I recently handed in and passed my PhD viva in April. The congratulatory messages from friends and family has had me floating and twirling in the air. But no sooner than the giddy feeling takes hold, I find myself aground again. The truth is it doesn’t feel like it’s over. I still watch Netflix and Eastenders with a pinch of guilt. Also, in worrying about “what’s next”, compared to anxiety about completing the thesis, the latter feels like child’s play. It’s like I need to mega-grow up in a matter of seconds (like Alice in Wonderland), because, hey, welcome to the real world.
Little signposts have been helping me get reality to sink in gradually. First of all, I’ve been lucky to get a great part-time job, which affords me time to pursue other interests, try to catch my breath, and make a living. What has been a major wake-up call is working fixed hours without the absolute flexibility one has as a PhD researcher. It’s not been difficult. It’s just been different, in a good way.
Secondly, when I received an email from one of my university services telling me i’ll soon be transferred to alumni status, it was another level of real. I panicked and headed to the library helpdesk to further understand what this meant in terms of my access to knowledge resources. Thankfully, my university has a generous plan for the alumni. They make the break-up as painless as possible.
I still hang out with my PhD crew in the library, amidst the what-are-you-still-doing-here looks I get. I don’t feel like i’ll fit in with the other side of the table yet. It’s a weird place to be. Neither party, PhDs and non-PhDs feel like I belong with them. My non-PhD friends tease me with all kinds of names, in person and on social media. For example, “my doctor”, “heal me doctor i’m ill” (rolls eyes), “my prof” , “doki doc”. My favourite is “hot doc”. Stylish Academic has a hot editor hehe!
Overall, it’s great that the process is over for me on paper. I believe with time I’ll feel at home with post-PhD life.
If you’re reading this post, and you’ve been through this – at what point did it feel like it was really over for you? How did you ease back into the real world as they like to call it? I look forward to reading from you.
P.S congratulatory gifts? NeW Balance sneaks will do thanks 😉
Feature Photo | Free Images | In-post – Cartoonised Selfie…