For years now, I’ve fantasized about handing over my thesis. In my head, it would be the greatest day of my life. Birds would dress me that morning. The sun would shine. Distant family members would fly in from all over the world to shake my hand. My supervisors would form a supportive chorus line leading up to the desk at the faculty postgraduate office, singing “You’ll be swell / You’ll be great / You can have the whole world on a plate.”
Everything was leading up to that day, and on that day, all my hard work would culminate in a feeling of overwhelming joy. (Then stress for the oral. But initially, joy.)
Well, I’ve just submitted my thesis for examination. And while joy was definitely one of the emotions I experienced, the overall mix of feelings was much more complex. Here are the six main emotions I experienced on submission day, in the form of GIFs because this is the internet.
IT’S FINALLY OUT OF MY HANDS! I can stop stressing! I can stop putting in crazy hours! I can have a social life! I can stop worrying! Except…
What if my examiners don’t like it? What if I accidentally submitted an old draft? What if I’ve missed some major mistake? What if I fail? What if it printed wrong and I didn’t notice? What if the binding comes apart and some pages go missing? What if I critiqued a theorist that the examiners like? Etcetera, etcetera.
Hm. OK, so I made my appointment, I handed over my bound copy and my soft copy, and I filled out an exit survey. Now what? Where are my balloons? Where is my cheer squad? Where is my champagne reception? Why did I assume there would be more to it than this?
Oh my gosh. I can read books for pleasure again, with zero guilt! Even magazines. I can watch television if I want. I can learn about stuff that isn’t thesis-relevant. I can think thoughts about other things. This is revolutionary.
So wait: it’s really over? What is my status now: ex-researcher? But I had so much more to say! I… I… I’m not done yet! Give it back. I can do this better. There’s still a lot to learn. I can’t be finished. No! NO!
Why yes, Mum, I have submitted. It seems that all my life choices are vindicated now, doesn’t it?
Oh goody, a form to fill out. Where’s the box to tick when my title is Almost Dr.?
Hello, old high school acquaintance. Yeah, I’m doing fine, just finished a novel-length dissertation. No big deal.
*Imaginary mike drop*