The Scamp Gets Her Diploma

Look what came in the mail! This is a proud proud moment for me. I am finally 100% done with Napier. I am done being a traditional student. I am now an adult.

The first thing I did was buy a very fancy frame. I’m out of wall space in my flat, so I am still working out where it will go, but I am quite chuffed with my achievement.

I am hoping that means that I will find my writing motivation and turn that 176 pages into a 10 page article that can be published for the rest of the academic world to read. One of the worst parts of working in academia is the need to publish in order for people to see you as an expert. To be of worth to a university as a member of staff you need to publish cutting edge research in top rated journals and bring in a lot of money through grants that can then be written up in top rated journals. This goes against all of my natural instincts. All I want to do is help staff and students feel more confident about assessment and feedback (although being famous in academia for doing it wouldn’t be all bad).

The problem is, the PhD has killed my soul. The process breaks you down and makes you feel like shite about yourself and when you are done, you feel like a shell of yourself who can’t write to save your life….and then you enter a job that expects you to write high quality research articles like they are tweets. On top of that, my research was completely ground breaking, but now people are starting to publish in the area, which means I am no longer unique, or have a real chance to make a name for myself in the field.

This job sucks sometimes.

I’m hoping that my diploma sitting in front of me can remind me that I have something worth publishing, and get me motivated to start writing again. I could also do with a few more sunny days so I could possibly go and write outside without the internet and bad reality TV to distract me.

The Scamp Suffers a Setback

I would just like to take this time to apologise to the people in Tollcross at 4 pm this afternoon. I know I offended a lot of British sensibilities when I got off the number 10 bus and went straight into the arms of one of my best friends and sobbed like a baby.

For a good five minutes.

I’m sorry for the people on the number 10 bus who saw me using my jacket to mop up the snot.

I’m sorry for the people on the number 16 bus who didn’t get to sit down during rush hour because I was a drunk mess sobbing on my way home.

I am, however, not sorry for my emotions, or the fact that when I am upset I have no control over them.

For the last three years, I have been busting my ass to finish a four-year project. I have dealt with changes in my job role, setback and delays with my writing, and the constant niggling fear that I was not going to be able to complete my work before my funding runs out. 6 months ago I was told that I was on track to submit by July. I’ve been working toward that deadline.

Today I was told that it is almost impossible for me to meet that deadline.

So I did what any mature person does: I cried like a baby.

The last four months have been really tough on me. I’ve been juggling multiple jobs, sending out loads of job applications and suffering from stress-induced writer’s block.  I have not seen my family in over a year because I had to prioritise finishing my thesis, and have not had a break since New Years. I’m burned out. I have zero fucks to give and now it turns out that is going to cost me graduating on time.

This means that in two months I will lose my primary source of income and have to figure out how to pay my course fees and all of my bills. To say I am in a panic is an understatement. To say that my struggle with anxiety and depression is making it worse is like saying the sky is blue…just so painfully obvious it doesn’t need to be said.

Last week the dean of our department basically told the staff to strive to be average. I heard this from people who were actually at the meeting (I wasn’t allowed to attend, because let’s be honest, I have never been a part of the office). At the time I sided with my supervisor who was raging. Why should anyone strive to be average? Who wants to be mediocre?

Right at this moment, I understand being okay with just being average. I would love it if my thesis was just average, just passable. At this point, I just want it to be good enough for me to get my degree, rather than the best work I am capable of producing. I understand that mindset right now.

The positive in all of this is that I am surrounded by people who are very supportive of me. One of my supervisors hugged me and let me cry whilst telling me that I can still prove my main supervisor wrong and that it is okay for me to feel this way. My mom paid off a large part of student loan for me so that I could save the money I was going to use for my bills next year. My wombmate sent me photos of my babies that she knows make me happy so I had something else to focus on.

One of my best friends here pretended that he missed the bus when I text him and hugged me until I stopped crying and then filled me with rum and chips while helping me look at the situation objectively and make a plan of attack that would allow me to move forward. My llama offered to burn down the place and promised to keep me on my writing schedule so that I could kick ass and prove everyone wrong.

Now I am drunk, which never happens, full of pizza and self-loathing, and reminding myself that a setback just means that I am going to feel that much more accomplished when I finish.

Right now though I am going to cry a little more and watch cute baby animal videos on Youtube. Tomorrow when I am hungover and remorseful I will get myself back into my research and try to get myself back on track.

 

 

The Scamp Graduates!

Never have I been more excited for a graduation. This wasn’t just a celebration of my accomplishment, but it was a chance for me to get to return to Scotland and recharge my batteries. 

This was by far the best graduation ceremony I have ever participated in. Everything about the check-in and seating was easy, the hall was beautiful, and the pomp and circumstance was brilliant. Luckily I was seated next to one of my best friends in the program, and the good banter and the laughs through parts of the ceremony made the hour and half go quickly.

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This day almost didn’t happen. 10 months ago I convinced myself that I didn’t need to go back for graduation. I knew that I would be just about done with my first semester of my doctoral degree, and I figured I couldn’t afford to take the time off. I told my  mom I had been through enough graduations, and didn’t need to sit through another one. After I finished my dissertation, I decided that I needed to go back and fully celebrate the hard work and everything that my nine months meant there. She was on board from minute one, and was overjoyed that my graduation fell over Thanksgiving weekend and she wouldn’t have to take any time off of work. Since I only got two tickets for the ceremony, I decided that Kelly needed to go. She has been to all of my graduations, but she had yet to visit Scotland and experience the magic of one of my favorite places in the whole world. 

The week we spent there was perfect. I got to show Kelly all of my favorite places, got to see a lot of my friends, and got a much needed break from school, work, and all of the stress of the last few weeks. 

I had two fears before I left: the first was that I would get no work done (which I didn’t…unless you count the 500 words I wrote in the airport the day we left) and that I would return to the States depressed that I was no longer in Scotland. While I was extremely happy to be in Scotland, and didn’t exactly rush home, I came home feeling recharged, and ready to finish the semester strong (of course, I still have one paper to work on, and have no idea how to finish it, so we will see how long those good feelings last). The only sad thing about coming home this time is I am not sure when I will get to see my friends again. Video chats with them are great, but do not compare to being able to see them face to face. 

While this is not my last graduation, I am sure that it will be my favorite.