After all the hard work I put in and all the pep talks from Megan and Julio, I’d like to think that I walked out like:
But it was actually like:
Now, onward to the dissertation prospectus! (Also, reading some things for fun.)
In all seriousness, this was a really valuable process for me. Not only did I learn a ton about a specialty I’ve only been in for a couple years, I also figured out some new study habits and note-taking practices that helped me synthesize and remember things. That will come in really handy as I start on the next pile of books for the dissertation. It was also good for my confidence in my own abilities. Since this was much more self-directed than anything I’ve done in my grad program to this point, I walked away feeling much more capable and secure in my intellectual abilities. I say that not to be cocky, but rather as someone who very much would like to hold her own in the field, but often, when surrounded by so many smart and articulate people feels full of self-doubt. I also had more one-on-one conversations with my faculty than I’m used to and that was really helpful. I’m kicking myself so hard for letting my major shyness of my early-twenties keep me locked in my own office. Fledgling grad students: talk to your professors more.
Despite all that good stuff, I was a total mess at some points. As a college freshman I read a short story–I thought it was in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, but it’s not–about a grad student who failed his comps. I don’t remember anything about that story except that he failed and it was terrible. It stuck with me. I wanted to pass and to do well and I’m so grateful for the people through all of that who gave me space and to those, including Julio and Megan, who built me up. Last night I was basically panicking and it was a major comfort to have supportive friends. Also, I had a pink worry-stone my mom gave me for Valentine’s Day when I was five.
Tomorrow is my birthday and Julio’s in town. Tonight we party with my wonderful friends! Here’s to the next steps.