So the last 2 stops of this marathon towards my PhD is my dissertation and dissertation defense. Through all of my classes, internships, research, lab time, teaching, reading, loss of sleep, and feeling every emotion known, it all comes down to 1 presentation, 4 committee members, and 1 paper. To say that I’m nervous would be an understatement. I’m so anxious it’s crazy. Anyone who has a PhD or is striving to get one knows that a dissertation is the end all be all. It is the one of the most difficult aspects of grad school. Think about it, you have to create the study, make it unique, collect the data, analyze the data, read endless amounts of articles, and then tie everything together in the longest document you have ever seen. And… all this has to be done through self-motivation because there is no dissertation class where you spend 3 hours working on your paper. This dissertation process is nuts, but I can finally see the finish line and trust and believe I am ready to cross it.
So many times I have questioned why I’m even in grad school. Trust me, it’s super easy to want to give up. But I have learned so much about myself through this process. I have grown as a person. I know what I will and won’t take from people. I have realized the importance of finding your identity both as a person and within your research (that’s a journey that I am still on). I have seen the importance of being an individual….of being proud of my work.
I have an awesome support system that has been keeping me motivated through this process. They have been there to push me to write (anyone else suffer from procrastination), give me encouragement when I completed a section, and wipe the tears when I was ready to give up. Plus I’ve been taking care of myself physically by working out and eating right (I’m a Beachbody coach, check out my Instagram: @disco_diva2007 to follow my health journey 🙂 ). It’s important to take care of yourself first because there is no way to make it through without YOU!!!
My advice to anyone in grad school or even thinking about grad school is BE READY!! Know that you will have ups and downs….it’s going to happen whether you want it to or not. Learn to trust in yourself. Know when you need help and go find it. I love going to therapy to have a person to talk to about my life who is neutral and can help me see things from multiple points of view. I know that therapy can be a taboo in our community because it’s thought that if you go to therapy then something serious is wrong. I’m here to tell you that is not (always) the case. Take care of yourself. I let myself go, and now I’m changing my health for the better and for me. I wish someone would have told me this at the beginning of this journey…I know it would have made a world of difference. Set small goals that will lead you to your overall goal. Whether it be studying for comprehensive exams, writing a thesis or dissertation, completing a homework assignment, or making time for yourself, know that by breaking down the larger picture into smaller pieces, you are able to conquer the beast (check out the ABCDE Method if you need help like I did not making to do lists that would be pages long).
As I go into tomorrow, I know that I have come a long way and I’m proud of myself. I’m ready to push through the fear and conquer this defense like the strong black woman I am. It’s now or never……