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!!