Though for a variety of reasons I no longer use my Facebook account, the one feature that still draws me in is the ‘Memories’ tab, which lets me look back on what I was doing, thinking, and complaining about on any given day over the past 10+ years. Today, it reminded me that it’s three years to the day since I arrived in York to start my PhD.
I came in on the train from Manchester and stayed in what is still my favorite AirBnB in the city, where I struggled to stay awake until a reasonable time for bed, as I was trying to avoid jetlag. The sun had set by 3:45 in the afternoon and I was pacing the floor trying to keep myself up. I remember going through the printed materials I’d brought with me concerning my graduate student orientation day over and over, and stressing about my meeting with my supervisor. Despite no evidence supporting it, I was 99.9 percent certain that I was going to be turfed out within a month.
Now I’m looking at the year ahead, and trying to remember how I handled all of those early days PhD fears and worries, because 2019 could be as life-changing as 2016 was. This will be the year I finish my PhD. It’s the year I see multiple publications come out. It’s the year I go on the job market. It’s the year I get married.
This year will see me travel to Germany, Poland, and Turkey. I’ve been invited to speak at multiple conferences and meetings, and I’m working on international projects and as a policy maker within my discipline. I am, by all measures that a graduate student can consider, successful. But that transition out of graduate student into…whatever comes next, is terrifying. It makes me pace the floor. It makes me doubt every success I’ve seen over the past three years. I think it’s important to be honest about these fears. There is no guarantee of success beyond the success you’re currently in.
But if the PhD process has taught me anything, it’s taught me resiliency. I can rally, and I can pivot. So this year is going to throw a lot at me, but I’m going to take the skills I’ve learned, and promote the work I’ve done, and go at 2019 as hard as I can.