I’ve come to the end of my last full semester in my PhD program. I’ve passed my qualifying exam, finished 75+ credits, and have had my two qualifying papers accepted, which basically equates to have a third of my dissertation written. It’s been a hell of a three year ride.
And not without cost.
Finishing this program has been the singular most important thing in my life for the last three years, and has come first before family, my own children, and any personal relationships that required more then an occasional text or a seasonal in-person visit. The only relationships that have sustained are the ones with people who have known me for quite a long time, who have been my cheerleaders, therapists, confidants, and shoulder to cry on when I honestly didn’t see how I could ever keep going on. Finishing this program has required me to dig deeper then I ever thought I could, persist even though it defied logic and reason, and learn to purge the deadwood so I wouldn’t drown.
And there were times I did indeed feel like I was drowning. Not because the work was hard, but because I doubted the value and the end result of pursuing something with no guarantees that I would actually succeed during or after these efforts. And yet, I was determined to keep working, keep showing up. I resolved myself to the fact that if I was going to quit, it was because someone was going to have to make me quit.
Perhaps my doggedness is due to my slightly OCD behavior, or maybe it’s because the alternatives just weren’t seductive enough to lead me astray. But more then likely it’s because I made a choice to stay, to hold on, to believe that it could be done because it was what I needed for my own sense of dignity and purpose. Because I believed in the possibilities of what could be even though it was illogical to do so.
So I guess I can say with a certain amount of conviction that even when the odds are not in my favor, I’m not giving up or letting go. (And I don’t think you really would want me to anyway.)