27 and a PhD

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Crazy things to do after finishing your PhD

Since I get a laugh or two when I find out how people have landed in my blog …. I’ve decided to write a few posts inspired by such search terms. The first of such posts was on my salary, which I have no trouble talking about as you can see.

The newest search term that caused me to laugh (in a funny ha-ha, that’s cool kinda way) is the one that serves as title for this post. Thus, let me indulge the random, the curious, the ever funny peeps of the Internetz that visit my site, be it via Nature Blogs, or random search terms. Ha!

Ok, I will start by telling you about what I did after finishing my defense. I went with my mom and the BF to the school’s cafeteria and got myself a slice of pizza. My defense was at 10am, and right after I met with my thesis committee who grilled tested me about my thesis, on both the written and oral parts. I was so hungry! My mom and the BF had all my belongings, thus I couldn’t get a coke or something sugary to get my glucose back to normal after so much stress. I don’t even remember if I had something for breakfast.

After the reception to celebrate moi, my mom, BF and I headed home to rest. I think I slept better than any other time because I was done, there were corrections to add, but I was DONE! No more experiments, nothing.

I have to recognize that I did a couple of “crazy” things while in grad school. I dated a postdoc, had a one night stand, got a tattoo, survived a horrific crash, got a piercing, got into debt, got drunk in 30 minutes, drove at more than 100 mph after a nasty breakup, got into a long distance relationship (that worked) even though I swore I’d never do it again. All those things and more I did while in grad school. Some I regret, others made my life a lot more fun.

If I could got back maybe I’d get the tattoo after finishing the whole thing, but it’s ok. My point is, sometimes we want to wait up for something big to say “hey, once I achieve this goal or point, I’ll do it.” Other than the part of getting in debt, I’d probably do all those things again, some of them sooner. But I don’t think you should wait to get off the beaten path and do something that you’ve always wanted to do, just because you want to have your degree and postpone whatever that goal is.

Even if you decide to do your “crazy” thing or things after, just take a moment to reflect, to breathe the fresh air that comes with adventure. Always be cautious, you don’t want to get yourself in trouble. So, here are a couple of things I would have done after finishing my degree:

  1. If you’re nerd like me, you’ve probably had the same haircut for a long, loooong time (try 10 years in my case). Go get a different haircut. I think it’s a liberating experience if you can let go of your hair. I remember that a few months after my break up, I got bangs. I hated them at first because I looked even nerdier, but I decided to go with it because my ex hated them. Well, not hated, hated, but he said he couldn’t imagine me having bangs. With a big smile and a HUGE desire to say “f*ck YOU” I got them. Once they started growing and getting longer I looked so cool. I love them … and still have them.
  2. Get a tattoo. If you’ve always dreamed of getting one, finishing your PhD is a great reason to go for it. I got it as sort of a survival thing 3 years after my accident. I love it. I may regret it when I’m 60, old and saggy, but for now, I’m enjoying being a nerdy badass.
  3. Go backpacking. Gosh, I wish I’d done this one. I have traveled … a LOT, especially with the BF. But I would have loved to just go with the flow, pack a few things, get a couple of bucks and lose myself in Spain or Italy. I guess I got inspired by a movie (and a college classmate who did it). Top me it’s more of a follow your heart kinda thing, so if you feel like taking some “risk”, bungee jumping, walking butt naked somewhere (or going to a nude beach). Whatever it it, go for it.
  4. Get out of debt, or at least build a plan to help you get out. It may seem a bit crazy for some, but getting out of debt (if you into it) should be at the top of your list. Trust me, now that I’m a postdoc and have no worries, like kids, I’d love to travel more, especially within Canada. It would be possible to do it, if I didn’t have almost 1/3 of my income going into recovering from debt.
  5. Move somewhere exotic. Nuff said.
  6. Leave science or whatever your field is. I don’t know much about you, but sometimes I dream I’m doing something completely opposite of what I currently do. Like being a singer, or an artist. I sort of feel a bit tied down by the routine, but if you ever second guess your choice, and you know you’re awesome at something other than your field of study, go for it.

Well, I could probably add many more things to the list. This is just meant to give you some sort of inspiration. Let you know that you’re not alone.

Now that you’re done, feel free to do whatever you want. Your years of being tied down to tubes and buffers are over (if only for a few weeks), so give yourself the freedom to do as you feel. And most of all, enjoy it 😀

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