Grad school is funny business

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what a strange, funny business I’m in.

I took my preliminary exams a few months ago. For the exams, I had to write and orally defended my answers to my exam questions. During the exams, I also write a “pre-prospectus” which is basically the early beginnings of a prospectus but not quite the full thing.

Even though I passed my exams, I wouldn’t say that the experience went well.

The causes for this were many, and I’ll avoid going into too much detail about it here because I don’t want to spend any more time dwelling on it. But the resulting outcome was a nasty case of impostor syndrome. I spent the past few months rewriting and tweaking my prospectus for my dissertation and worrying about going through the same turmoil that my exams put me through.

The week before spring break, I had my prospectus defense meeting, and it went really well. Much, much better than the exams. No big deal, in fact. I finally felt like a junior colleague, and I was proud to talk about my work.

And I just keep thinking about what a funny thing it is to walk into a room and ask a bunch of smart people to allow you research and write a really long paper. To tackle this huge, gigantic, seemingly insurmountable task. Please please let me do this huge, sort of crazy thing.

When we get into complaining jags, my significant other often reminds to remind myself that I want to be here. That I chose to be here. That the me of 5 years ago dreamed of this moment. That makes me appreciate it more, but it still seems sort of crazy to me. It’s a funny thing that when you’re really lucky, sometimes you have to remind yourself how lucky you are.

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