Even though all my doctoral requirements were completed on February 14, I made it official by graduating this weekend. I was not planning on walking. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m feeling uncomfortable and I’ll admit sitting through a graduation ceremony did not seem like the best use of my time when I could prepare. I think the nesting impulse is strongly alive and well.
But I decided to walk and had some family come up to Michigan. It is strange to think that the next time I’ll see them it will be as a family of three, not two. I was told the day of graduation, I could leave after receiving my diploma, which was a great kindness. I watched the rest of the doctoral and masters students receive their diplomas, but left before they began calling the undergraduates.
We went out to eat at Cascarelli’s in Homer afterwards. I don’t have any pictures, but let me tell you something. For a small town, Homer surprisingly has the best pizza I have ever tasted. My grandparents and parents agreed. After, they left for Ohio and we returned back to Hillsdale, making a quick ice cream stop at the Udder Side first.
It was nice that the day was over for us by 6:30. Even though it was not a long day, I’ve been wanting to be home more and more — that nesting impulse.
I’ve had time to get used to be done with my dissertation — time that has been better improved now that I’m looking forward, preparing to teach. Still — it was a nice capstone on what has been six years of graduate school, six years of reading, writing, and if I am being totally honest, stressing out, but also six years of joy.
Graduate school is hard, but not in the way I thought it would be. I hardly ever had to pull over-nighters, sleeping six to eight hours most nights. I think the work is manageable, provided you are good at time management and getting things done. But it is hard in the length. It can be hard to dedicate yourself to something that maybe you make 1% progress on a day, especially when you are working on the dissertation and you only receive feedback every couple of months or so. It is a test of endurance and trust in yourself.
I know academia has a bad rap. It is harder and harder to get an academic job. I think someone told me yesterday about a prestigious English Ph.D. department who recently graduated 36 Ph.D. students, none who have academic jobs. I knew my chances of getting an academic job were slim. I think I went in with my eyes wide open. All I really wanted to do was read great books and teach and I’ll be doing that this fall. I consider it an enormous win.
I’m grateful to have had six years to take classes on thinkers from Hobbes to Marcuse. I’m grateful that I could spend two years writing a dissertation on Jean-Jacques Rousseau on a topic I cared about. I’m also especially grateful I managed to do all that without accruing any extra debt, thanks to a full-ride and living stipend. My time will be a little different now — not as flexible with both teaching and a baby — and I’m glad to say I never took what I doing very granted. Yes, I complained about the stress and the pressure, but overall I was grateful. I still am.