A look back over the past year
What do you see when you look back over this academic year? A walk in the park or a struggle? Either way, I hope you are proud of your progress.
Time flies. About five years ago I was sitting in a small office opposite my current supervisor, hoping she would agree to supervise my PhD. I remember it as if it was yesterday, my heart was pounding and my hands were sweaty. I wasn’t overly convinced I could do a PhD, let alone feeling able to convince a professor that I would be worth her time and efforts. But I must have done something right because she agreed, and that moment is still so clear in my mind, it is as if it only just happened. But in actual time it was about five years ago. Time flies.
Time crawls as well, though. Graduation is near and yet far away. I can see the finish line, but the final steps are always the hardest. I seem to have forgotten what it is like not to have deadlines, piles of articles that need reading, and endless to-do lists. Sometimes it feels like I have been doing this PhD forever and a day. And to be honest I cannot wait to be finished and I am almost counting down the days. Time crawls.
When I signed on for my fifth year at the University of Warwick in August last year, I remember celebrating it being my final year. I also remember being stressed and slightly overworked. At that time I was looking at this mountain of work, and I had no idea how to get through it. I had many files lined up on my laptop, a disjointed pile of chapters, paragraphs, and just text. I knew it would take a lot of work to make ‘one full thesis’ out of it, and my heart felt a bit heavy thinking of having to get through that. But in less than five weeks I will submit my thesis, so I guess it is safe to say: “I am nearly there”.
In a year’s time I went from looking at the mountain, to climbing it, to reaching the top where I can enjoy the view. Of course, sooner rather than later I have to come down again and climb the next one. But after I have submitted, for just a few days I am to feel like I have ‘finished’. For a few days I am going to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. I will take some time to look back on the trail I have walked. Although looking forward and planning the future is important, once in a while it is useful to look back and appreciate everything you have done to get to where you am.
University is not easy, it isn’t meant to be. As you work yourself towards a degree time will fly and time will crawl. It will be over before you know it and it will take forever. If you are at the bottom of a mountain you’ll have a lot of climbing to do. If you are halfway there and the climb is steep and rough, it is key to just keep going. It isn’t a sprint, you don’t have to move fast, but do keep moving. And when you have reached the top take some time to sit down, appreciate the road you have travelled and be proud of every obstacle you have overcome. Just take a deep breath… enjoy the view.