I’m submitting my thesis today! Submitting. My thesis. Today.
With longer and shorter breaks, I’ve been working on it since last June. And there was always more and more to do. First proposal and presentation, then interview guide and hundreds of emails, then hours and hours of transcribing. This was followed by months of analysis and writing up: Introduction, Results written and rewritten, Conclusion, Methods, Theory, and finally Discussion. There was always more to do – until there wasn’t.
I was still missing credits, so I also did a course during period 4. Let me tell you, working on your thesis and following a full-time course at the same time is not very fun. At times it was extremely stressful trying to juggle these two things and successfully meet all the deadlines. On-the-verge-of-a-panic-attack stressful. This was also the first time in my academic career where I seriously considered skipping the exam (there’s always re-exams!), because I did not think I could handle it. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I have very high requirements for myself – I did not want to compromise the quality of either the final chapters of my thesis or my exam preparation.
Eventually, I did take the exam, and everything else seems to have fallen into their places. The course also turned out to be a good and welcome distraction: it again got me thinking about the bigger things, and not just about how and why people plant and weed in natural areas in that small region in the southwest Australia.
But over the final few weeks I caught myself stalling. Ever since coming back from Perth I’ve been eagerly looking forward to finishing the damn thing. Just get it out of me! But finishing, it turns out, is terrifying. On the one hand: what am I supposed to do with myself now? I’ve been working on the thesis for what seems an enormous amount of time. No surprise that moving on is scary and uncertain. On the other hand, finishing also means letting go completely of Australia, of bushland, and of those people and their words that I’ve been trying to weave into one fascinating story.
My thesis is my baby; it really feels that way. I invested a lot in it, but got even more in return, no matter the final grade. Now I just have to let it go somehow, and also go back into the world myself. It’s equally frightening and exciting – and I’m (not) ready. Baby steps.