Hello Internet, I've missed you. I feel like I've been on leave for the last month, traveling to far off places in Thesisland. Or perhaps I've been asleep (thesis coma?), since I have not been terribly aware of the outer world (i.e. anything beyond my brain), and I'm now just waking up.
April has been full of very long days with very little sleep. I can function on 4 hours, but I don't do it well, and I can't sustain it day after day after day, but I tried to do it anyway. There was about a week that I kept thinking my thesis was "almost done." Just insert the figures, and it'll be done. Oh right, I need to add a caption there. This paragraph would make a lot more sense if I move it down the page after describing this other thing. Which Smith et al. reference did I mean here? And so on. It felt like Zeno's Paradox: each step would get me halfway there, but I'd never finish.
Having revised it in pieces, over and over, I was afraid my dissertation was complete crap, but I printed out a copy and read through it, start to finish. I had gotten so used to tearing apart its flaws, that it almost surprised me to realize it was actually okay. Seeing it in formatted and put into print also helped make it feel finished.
So last Monday I submitted my dissertation to my committee. Lots of people have said "that's so exciting!" to the news, but I have honestly been too exhausted to feel anything but relief.
Thursday I rehearsed my thesis defense talk with my group, and got some really great feedback. My defense is Wednesday. I'm glad to have a few more days to polish, but if I had to give the talk today, I could.
In the middle of all this thesis scramble, I got another job interview. So last week, with only 3 1/2 hours of sleep in me, I spent another day meeting faculty, students, and administrators, touring facilities, and giving a teaching demo. At first it was a struggle to stay energized – I arrived dog-tired and didn't want my exhaustion to come across as boredom – but the conversations I had were engaging, and I actually felt more alert and excited as the day went on. My teaching demo went pretty well, with only minor hiccoughs, and a few students came up to me afterward to thank me for making the material clear. That feedback absolutely made my day. All in all, I had a great visit.
Apparently the hiring committee thought so too because they offered me the job! I'm delighted. Now I have the wonderful problem of making a decision.
Now that I've had a chance to rest, the excitement is finally starting to take hold. I wrote a dissertation. I am days away from being Dr. Haas. I will be employed this fall. I am almost done. It's a pretty great feeling.
To everyone else who is graduating and defending and finishing up in the next few weeks: I'm excited for you, even if you are too tired to enjoy it yet. You've made it to the finish line. Congratulations!