Remember how, over the past couple of weeks, I was talking so much about how busy I was with studying for my oral exams? So busy I had to delay the next chapter of Wayward Son, and so busy I couldn’t write longer weekly posts? Well, thankfully, it’s all over now. All that hard, hard work finally paid off. On Monday…
I FINALLY PASSED MY GRAD SCHOOL ORALS!!!!!!
Yeah, Monday was definitely one of the best days of my life. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell from my reaction…while I was definitely happy once my professors told me I’d passed, I didn’t start screaming or crying or anything as people do on TV or anything like that. I just thanked my teachers, and promptly went home and fell asleep. XD Granted, that was partially because I was so tired after studying all night for the orals, and partially because I didn’t want to flip out so much. Passing my orals would have done me little good if I got kicked out from grad school for going crazy and doing the Carlton dance. XD XD
That, of course, implies that my struggle isn’t entirely over yet. While I passed my orals, I can’t allow myself to get complacent…I haven’t gotten my Ph.D yet, after all. I’ll have to concentrate on that now, and get started on my dissertation soon enough. D:
I don’t mean to sound too dour, though. Even if my struggle isn’t entirely over, it’s *mostly* over. Not in terms of time (my dissertation will probably take me another 3 years) but in terms of stress and pressure. While writing a dissertation is certainly no cakewalk, I have a little more flexibility and time to take care of it. I can make multiple drafts, decide which parts I want to work on and how, and generally take it a little easier, since I’ve already done a good bit of work on it–my orals reading was like doing a bunch of the research for my dissertation already 😀 And, if worst comes to worst, I can take another year to polish up my dissertation. That’s not the best course of action, since one has to worry about funding, and the sooner you finish a dissertation the sooner you can start looking for jobs, but still, it’s better than nothing. It’s certainly less stress than grinding nonstop, reading over *two hundred books* over the course of *one semester* for an exam you have to pass, and only get one more shot at passing if you don’t (and some grad schools don’t even offer the second chance like mine does!). So yeah, looking at the massive amount of work and reading I had to do in such a short time, my oral exams were the biggest hurdle facing me in my career.
That alone would make April 20, 2015 one of the best days of my life. But–and I’ll hope you can forgive me for sounding pretentious–it’s even better than that, so I feel. That day may well represent a watershed, a turning point, for my life as a whole.
I don’t want to get melodramatic and say I’ve had a bad life. Quite the opposite! I was born into an affluent family. I’m in reasonably good health and I’ve got wonderful friends. Still, for whatever reason, I can’t say I’ve had a carefree life. For most of my time on Earth, I was always wondering-and fearing-what would happen to me next, always trying to overcome some obstacle or another. In high school? “What college am I gonna get into? Aw man, I need to study for these tests and write these papers.” In college? “What grad school am I gonna get into? Aw man, I need to study for these tests and write these papers.” And in grad school? “Will I pass my orals? Aw man, I gotta study for them.” Always, all the time, for most of my life, I was always worrying, always struggling with or against something or another.
I’ll go into that mode of thinking in greater depth in a later entry, but for now, suffice to say that my lifetime of struggle is finally over, more or less. I’ve triumphed over the only real test remaining in front of me, as far as I can see. And so, for the first time in my life, I find myself with a clear heart and a clear mind. For the first time, I have nothing to worry about. For the first time, there’s nothing hanging over my head, stressing me out and making me angry, coloring even the good times in my life with a tinge of dread. For the very first time, there are no shadows at the edge of my vision.
I know I said earlier I still had my dissertation to deal with, but that’s not so bad. Hell, even if it falls through and I don’t get my Ph.D–and that’s extremely unlikely at this point–I’ll still be happy. I passed my orals exams, and that’s the sort of achievement very few people can claim. The satisfaction of overcoming such a humongous obstacle is so great that it outweighs just about anything else. No matter what happens from here on out, at least in regards to academia, I’ll feel like I’ve already won.
The feeling I have right now is like the feeling one gets when winter is over. Except, in my case, winter’s never coming back, or at least not for a long, long while. The vistas of my future contain nothing but blue skies, white clouds, and green grass for the rest of my life. Passing over my orals was, quite sincerely, my crowning achievement, the greatest challenge I’ve even taken-and triumphed over-to date, and possibly ever. Now that they’re done with, it’s like the Sword of Damocles is no longer hanging over my head. The main source of stress and anxiety in my life has disappeared. I’ve really got nothing to worry about. Nothing’s gonna make me angry or sad or depressed (at least excessively so) as was so often the case while I was burning my stamina studying.
I am, in short, free. Perhaps not entirely free, but…freer than I was before.
And I suppose I should thank all of you, brothers and sisters. Wayward Son fans, friends of the blog, or just random readers who wish me well. Your patience and support has truly meant the world to me over the course of my journey, and I’m glad I was able to repay you by bringing it to a successful conclusion. I’m glad I met each and every one of you. Thanks for everything, my friends.
Now, don’t think I’m going anywhere! This journey may have ended, but a new one has begun! I still have some things from this year to clean up–grading for my students, who are also finishing up their semester (I’m proud of them 😀 :D), and then getting back into the Wayward Son and Dragonar groove! So here’s a list of things I gotta do:
1: Fill out a bunch of forms (registration in absentia as I’ll be away from campus doing research, health care forms, etc.)
2: Grade some stuff for my remaining classes
3: Give back library books
4: Change my mailing address and cancel Internet in my apartment
5: Work on Wayward Son
6: Get back to work on Dragonar
As a reward to myself for passing my orals, though, I also got a ton of stuff off Amazon.com! Here are the books I bought-might do reviews of them later. Much later. XD
1: Necrom, by Mick Farren: I loved this book as a kid.
2: Over Here (a history of WWI) and
3: Freedom from Fear (a history of WWII), both from David Kennedy. I read these from the library for my orals and liked them so much I wanted to own them!
4: Altered Pasts by Richard J. Evans. A book on alternate history from one of my favorite historians 😀
Richard J. Evans