It has been a long time coming, but the day arrived. I am a Ph.D.
It's a strange feeling, knowing that my graduate school days are over. I've done all the graduate school I can do. I don't think I've ever really gotten to the end of anything before. Certainly nothing that, I hate to say it, feels this profound. It's a stage of my life that is simply done and I'm so happy that it is.
I've spend the last 8 years chipping away at a degree that should have been much easier than it was. I had three completely different sets of dissertation advisors while here. There have been lab shut downs and abuse and mess. There have been fantastic times too - new loves, friends and interests and games. I do wish that the science side had been more fulfilling, but I do have a career ahead of me. There will be plenty of time for good science from here on.
I've spent years away from the people that mattered - missed birthdays, Christmases, weddings and funerals. I racked up debt, and lived miserly to pay it off. I tried my best to take advantage of New York City, and spent months at a time locked up writing and struggling to complete a dissertation I'm not really satisfied with. Still, the best dissertation is a completed dissertation. I am happy to have finished it.
I had a chance meeting in a Far Eastern country last year. A very powerful researcher noticed a question I asked at conference. He followed me out of the room and offered me an interview. Around this time last year, I flew to his lab, here in the U.S., and met a really fantastic group of people. I was offered a great job - a career making job...cover of Nature and Science job. A few months later, it fell apart.
Since that time, I have been completing my dissertation, papers/publications, giving talks at conferences and labs, submitting grants and fellowships, and interviewing left and right. No offer has really matched this offer, except one. While it may work out, my completion of this degree is tempered, somewhat, by the uncertainty of what is next. I am unemployed, a PhD, 15 pounds heavier (dissertation weight), publishing off my work and desperate to work on something new and exciting. I'm trying to celebrate every day with little breaks I cut myself. For example, I no longer sit in front of this computer until the wee hours. I close it down and give myself an hour of no work before bed......baby steps back to normalcy :)
So, while I am no longer in grad school, I am still here, on a budget and making the best of it.
..now I just have to think up a new tag line "graduate student" no longer applies.
Little things :)