It seems like my last post should be much longer ago than January. Life is just so busy as a third year PhD student. But, now I have an afternoon to breathe, I wanted to write some more. Today, I'm writing to you from the position of having 162 days until I hand in my thesis, and 27 days until I leave this city forever. Take a minute to let that sink in.
Now, just because it's fun, I'm going to put in more of my favourite imgur things. Here's one to get you started. Have a giggle.
At this point, I'm starting to feel like a puppet master pulling together strings. Analysis will be finished with a week or two. My paper should be submitted by the end of the month. The two post doc proposals I'm working on might take a bit longer, but then something's got to give - I've got a PhD to finish after all! This month feels particularly strange though. It marks the event of a lot of things that have been coming for a while - we're packing up our flat before we move, we've booked the registrar for our wedding, we're selling everything we're not taking with us and arranging leaving drinks. All of these things are nice (though packing is a bit of a pain), but they do have a habit of really, really sneaking up on you. It's such a cliché, but I really don't know where the last twelve weeks of my life have gone.
I do know, though, that the last few weeks have involved quite a lot of sitting down and really thinking about the future. Priorities. It's not a discussion we'd ever had to have before - we just went where we needed to go for school. Now though, we have a number of things to weigh up. Do we value job security or salary more? What's more important - career progression or location? Is it better to take a year out and publish lots, or to push head first into what's available? Who is going to be the main bread-winner? Where do we want to live? Does it matter? What do we want to do?
At some point, everyone faces these questions, and we all have different answers. I'll tell you some of mine, with the caveat that my choices are not necessarily the best for my career, or me personally, but they are the best for my fiancé and I together, which is my top priority. Don't worry if your priorities are different.
For one, we decided we want to stay in Scotland. I can almost hear those of you who are destined for careers in academia gasping! Yes, it does severely limit my employment options if I wanted to get my career up and off the ground. But we made that decision based on (a) we like it here the bestest, (b) we want to bring our kids up here - when we have them, (c) I will have a PhD, which means I can do quite a lot of things, and (d) did I mention we're staying here for the summer? Why would I ever want to leave? But it's not just that. Sure, I love research and I've loved my PhD, but I'm beginning to realise there's more to life. I want other things too, and so for me, academia has moved lower down the priority list.
It's a very strange thing, when finishing becomes countable in days. When the future isn't far away any more, it's just a few weeks more in the calendar. Part of me is feeling sentimental. There is a lot I'll miss about my PhD days. Even leaving the city I've lived in for seven years, although I don't particularly like it, is giving me a moment of "Oh!" But the other part is ready for the adventure. I'm ready to find out what the future holds. Particularly if that is a lovely house somewhere on Mull with a wood fire and lots of time for crafting and writing stories (my pipe dream of choice at the moment).
My PhD has prepared me spectacularly for life as a 'grown up'. (I use the ' ' because I'm only going to be pretending). Things like critical thinking, looking for novel solutions, working under pressure and multi-tasking are valuable anywhere. Hell, I'm going to be writing the biggest book I'll ever write - that's a skill too! But the best thing is that I now have the confidence in myself to believe that things will work out somehow. I might not get the dream job, or we might not have the most money, but we'll get by. We'll work through it, keep on going, and come out the other side.
It's time to go for an adventure.