The thesis will soon be finished.
You know, it just happened today: the realisation that suddenly, my thesis’s completion is so damn close.
For those who might visit and not exactly understand what I’m talking about, I am a PhD candidate at the Australian National University (in Canberra), and have been since 1999.
My thesis is in anthropology, which means that fieldwork of up to 2 years is required. Of course, this means that the average length of time for an anthropology PhD is 5 years, instead of 3 if you’re a science or humanities PhD.
I’ve had some major stumbling blocks along the way:
- I was a full time PhD student (living on a pathetic APA scholarship and two part-time jobs) from 1999-mid-2001. Family poverty meant that I had to return to fulltime work in 2001 (see post below)
- My first stint of fieldwork sucked. I didn’t have enough data to write up because not a lot happened
- I then did 3 years of additional fieldwork (!)
- My marriage broke up
- I became depressed and suicidal
- I buggered up my creativity and ability to concentrate by scattering my energies in foolish pursuits (like letting three guys chase me at once)
Anyway, last year I took four months leave without pay from my job and wrote half of the thesis. I have now changed jobs, recovered my life and I’ve only got TWO CHAPTERS TO GO!! And even better both are half written.
How did I do this? A little bit at a time. A half hour here, two hours there, a morning here and there … and suddenly, it’s almost done.
I can’t believe it.
And what does a PhD prove, really?!?
NOTHING. (Well, maybe that I can write a lot of shit about jointly managed national parks in Central Australia)
Will it get me a pay rise?
NO. I am about to get a promotion based on my skills as a people and project manager, not on my academic credentials.
Will it get me a better job?
NO. I actually have a great job.
So why did I bother with a PhD?
It was about being good enough in my mother’s eyes.
So there, Mum.
Remember those girls across the road -you know, the ones who endlessly played mothers and fathers (when my nose was stuck in a book or out wandering round the national park), those girls who ‘ran rings round me‘ when it came to housework, those girls who cared about make up and fashion when I was caring about mud and dirt and shorts and jeans, those girls who were living in caravans by the time they were 15 – and especially, do you remember that really nice, domesticated girl who arranged to have her kind, gentle father beaten up because he was worried about her living in a caravan with a drug addict … You know those girls, Mum? The ones you wished I was like?
Well, I never wanted to be like them. I was nothing like them. I am nothing like them.
That’s why I used to ask you to send them home when I was 3 years old.
That’s why I needed to get a PhD. To prove for once and all that I am not like and never will be like Kathleen and Gai from across the road. And I know that you should admit that it was wrong to wish your daughter was like them, simply because I was not your ideal of what a little girl (all frilly, pink and girly-girl) should be.
You will note, however, that I gave you a granddaughter who is the girly-girl you always wanted.
Anyway, I forgive you for this stuff and I love you, because you were being the best mum that you knew how to be.
But I won’t be doing anything else to prove that I’m good enough, because:
I DAMNWELL AM GOOD ENOUGH!!
Amanda – congratulations!!! Wow. Almost there, but it will be done.
Its a testament to your tenacity, your passion and hard work that you’ve got there.
You’ve done all this with a million set backs, large and small. That rocks!
Your PhD proves this – that you can do whatever it takes. You can follow your dreams and make them happen. You are your own person, and you aren’t living in anyone else’s world of what success looks like.
All that said… isn’t it interesting, the space that’s left when you’ve achieved what you thought you had to, in order to prove something. And its not about that in the end after all.
You’re more than good enough, you’re who you are. You have knowledge of Self.
That’s way more than most.