So, after what can only be described as 13 years since I first entered my R1 Midwestern university as a Masters student, I am now Dr. no matter where you go. In some ways, it’s kind of hard to believe, not the least of which because, in the end, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I made it. Which is to say, I spent far too long dreading the process and the result, and not enough just getting the work done; yet, in the end, the actual work part was challenging and – dare I say it – enjoyable. In retrospect, anyway.
The defense itself…well, I keep having this nagging feeling that my committee let me off easy, because, while challenging, overall I found the defense itself kind of enjoyable. They asked some tough, fundamental questions that I struggled to answer, but what I took away from that (in fact, what they pretty much said outright about it) was that those are areas I need to grapple with more to come up with satisfactory answers for myself. They were all very complimentary about the dissertation itself: my outside member kept saying that I had a subtle grasp of the material that successfully avoided the usual proclamations that are made about XX Culture and People (in her words, “the XX people are YY, blah, blah, blah…”), and the member of my committee who came in late and with whom I never had any classes seemed engaged and interested in parts of the dissertation that I wouldn’t have thought noteworthy. But I was especially pleased that my advisor and my ex-advisor, who remained on my committee despite having moved on in his own career, both seemed satisfied with the final result. Ex-advisor even asked to use a bit of it for a class he’s teaching next fall…color me surprised/pleased.
So now I’m a PhD. And I have absolutely no idea what to do with that. The advice I’m getting is to just take a breather, and I suppose I should…I’ve just been going at full speed for so long that I don’t quite know what that would look/feel like at this point. But, if I had to guess, I think it would involve getting to know my kids again, getting a better handle on my parenting skills, getting to know my husband outside the grad student persona, and mulling over what I might like to do next.