On 30 March 2020, I defended my dissertation on Zoom, whilst sitting on a stool in my kitchen. Dear friends attended the public portion, which calmed any nerves I had leading up the event. Ultimately, I passed my dissertation defense with minor revisions. It was the best possible outcome, I think.
I felt eerily calm before the defense. The anxiety and panic hit afterward, as the rush of emotions finally hit me. Really, I couldn’t believe it. After 5 years as a doctoral student and nearly 10 years of post-secondary schooling, I finally completed the requirements for a PhD. I can still remember when I did not believe that I would ever complete a PhD, let alone stay in academia.
In the meantime, I am continuing work on ongoing research projects and pushing manuscripts closer to submission. If there are words on the page, then I can write. If not? Well, it’s a toss-up.
In closing, let me say that I never envisioned myself graduating into both a pandemic and a probable economic recession. I also did not anticipate how suddenly and thoroughly a pandemic could shift my life. For example, there is no more face-to-face teaching for the foreseeable future, and daily life activities like grocery shopping are fraught with uncertainty and fear. I had more to say, but words are hard these days. I feel a mixture of gratitude, hope, anxiety, and, resolve.
I am so glad to be here. It would seem that this statement and the above are at odds, but I am finding that times are bringing the things that matter into sharp relief. As we practice social distancing, I am savoring the connections that I share with others.