27 and a PhD

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Reflections on my 1st week as being a PhD

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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Well, here I am. It’s been exactly 1 week since I got my degree. All members of my thesis committee signed off and I still need to revise the last 2 thesis chapters, but overall, I’m done.

My mom and BF are in town. But for whatever reason things aren’t going as “perfect” as I thought they would. My mom sometimes interrupts my BF to talk. My BF and my mom are very polite, but for whatever reason she just interrupts, doesn’t apologize and my BF just puts his head down, kind of defeated by it. My BF says I need to talk to my mom, since this is not the only display of weird behaviour. My mom is very critical of me. I know she loves me, and she wants what’s best for me, but sometimes it gets to a point where I feel like I will explode if I don’t say something.

The day of my thesis my mom could not be happier for me. She was shining with joy and pride. I’m the first person in my family to hold a PhD. I never “strayed” from my goal, and 22 years later, here I am holding a degree from a prestigious US institution that has broken my heart and spirit many times. But I’m no quitter, and I endured the slaps to my self esteem and soul to get to where I’m at. So at church the other day I had this friend who said so very many times how proud she is of me. I said thanks a few times, but after a little while it was getting kind of repetitive. When we said our goodbyes my mom was quick to point out that I had not said thanks to her remarks (when I did, my BF and another friend can bear witness). Things like that have been going on all through the week.

I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Yet everyday I come to work as usual because I need to start with the corrections and revisions to my thesis. My move to Canada is planned for the end of this month. My mommy goes back home on the soon, leaving me little time to pack, clean and get on my way with the BF. I have to take care of several things, including changing the name of the owner on the title of my car (my car is paid off, THANK GOD), I need to take kitty to the vet for shots and documents to say that she’s healthy and will not mess up Canada when she enters.

I’m tired of the stress, of coming here to “work”, of enduring criticism by my own family. I’m tired of thinking about how I’ll pay for the 22k I’ve run up in debt trying to cheer myself up and live up the american dream (I have a good paying job in Canada, but it will take a while to get paid, we move to a new place in about a month and there are things to be bought and sold, packed, dumped, or donated). Most of all I feel like sleeping, like going to sleep and not wake up for a few days, or if I do just veg out.

I love my mom, my BF and my family and I know that their comments are out of love, concern for how they used to think of me when I was living with them (especially my parents). I’m grown up now. I have not lived in my parents house in over 6 years. I’d love to sleep in the same bed with the BF, but since our parents’ generation sees that as wrong because we are not married, we cannot do it.

I’m tired of pretending, of covering up who I am because I need to keep up this image of a “good”, conservative, christian girl. I’m a really good person (even though I do not agree with some views of the Faith/Church I go to/profess), I’d love to get married, someday, but now right at this second, I’m a liberal person. Yet I have to hide my true-self so others don’t get mad, sad or disheartened by my choices, but the way I’ve chosen to live my life, which makes ME happy.

It’s interesting to have the degree, but ALL I want to do is sleep.

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2 Comments

  1. […] The thesis defense – after all this I’ll be a PhD As promised before, I’m going to conclude the series on what to expect when you’re applying for grad school, once you get in and how things look toward the end by posting this entry. It’s about how my thesis defense *day* went, starting the tale from a day or two before. I’ll conclude with thoughts and a little on what transpired after, though I mentioned some of it before. […]

  2. […] tell my friends they’d see me back in the local working force in exactly 5.5 years. Yeah, no, it didn’t happen quite like that. It took me almost exactly 6 years to get out. Partly because I was scared of what would come next, […]

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