20 Sep 2015
When do you plan to hand in? That evil question every doctoral candidate is peppered with pretty much from day one. You fumble around and propose a date. Even the most determined candidates are only guessing. The date is years away but slowly it creeps up.
You submit a chapter at a time and you present pieces of your work here and there. Eventually it is time to string it together. If you are like me, this is a pretty invigorating but all-consuming process. I worked in three four day chunks bringing things together and writing an introduction and conclusion (the first of which would be re-written and the second scrapped entirely). Those days were long and lonely.
I submitted and sat at my desk. I had stacks of cereal bowls and days worth of water glasses. I was in my pyjamas and had not been outside save to buy lunch from Whole Foods each day (the extra 5 minutes to the student friendly priced grocery store was just too valuable). I had expected to be elated that a full draft had been submitted but I was anxious instead. I still can’t pin-point why, but my stomach was in a knot and I pretty much just wanted to curl in bed and cry. Instead I took a shower. Then I curled up in bed.
A few weeks later comments were back from my two supervisors and it was time for sprint 2. Head down and off I went. This time I was also launching a non-profit organization aimed at increasing youth voter turnout. My days were as long but a little less lonely and a little more balanced. I took about three weeks. This time my feelings were much clearer. Happiness.
My supervisors and I talked about my timeline for submission. About how much time they each needed to read my penultimate draft and about how much time I needed to make corrections. Miscommunication or miscalculation, this caused me the most stress. Suffice it to say: you all need more time than you think. References will get mangled when you compile your document, other deadlines will come up and supervisors will need more time than anticipated, people will be on vacation, etc..
Most of my revisions came back to me on Saturday. I submitted on Wednesday. My final sprint was 4.5 days and I tell you, it felt like a month (or 7). Multiple times I considered postponing submission, once I thought about never submitting (I could be happy working at a burger joint, couldn’t I?) but mostly I thought about needing to just get it done. I could have kept working on it for weeks. I could still be working on it. I think I might feel like I could always still be working on it. Ultimately I didn’t have a choice – I was fortunate enough to be invited for two campus interviews and both were imminent which meant I needed to submit.
So, I submitted.
I thought I’d submit and simply feel happy. Maybe a little relief.
I felt those things but I also felt frustrated and angry and sad and anxious and proud and hopeful and giddy and silly and smart and bewildered. I was so completely overwhelmed.
But, it is submitted.