Pass / Fail: ABD & reflections on a year gone by

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I feel like life is getting away from me and I just haven’t felt motivated. It’s been a big semester for me and there have been lots of things I’ve been waiting on.

First I PASSED the EXAM. This was one of the most stressful and excruciating processes of my life; I equate this semester to my first semester of grad school when I cried Every. Single. Day. There was much less crying this time, but many more distractions – a HURRICANE, the exam getting pushed two weeks, all the things that had been put off until after the exam to be done. And finally, finding out that I PASSED (on Wednesday). Honestly, I expected to feel more joy than I did. I thought I would be so happy and need to go out and celebrate. Instead, I felt a huge weight lift and the pent up anxiety start to ebb. Thursday I was exhausted. Friday I felt like myself again.

But within my gloom and doom, there is real reason to celebrate. I passed, and this means I am ABD, All But Dissertation for those who don’t speak PhD school. I have completed every other milestone: first exam, coursework, second year paper, second exam. This is a time for me to do what I want and follow my interest. As someone recently said to me; “this is the one time where I get to make all the calls and do exactly what I want.” I need to remember this.

Because while I passed the EXAM, I feel like I’ve been failing at life. I’ve been so unfocused and scattered this year, like I’ve been running and never quite reaching the finish line. Back in January I wrote that I wanted to live this year with intent. I meant this in how I used my time and wanting to compartmentalize. With Simon and my “mom days” I met this goal. I learned to unplug 90% of the time. I don’t usually turn on the computer when it’s Simon time (I do still check my ipod under the guise of taking pictures) and it’s all about playing together. I have learned to spend time with my son intentionally.

But everything else? It’s so hard not to let other thing interfere with this time. There is ALWAYS more work to do and I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will NEVER be completely caught up. I can be ok with that. I think. I’m getting better at saying “no” when the choice is more work at the expense of Simon time. It’s so easy to just send him to daycare an extra day – but I don’t want that. He’s happy there and it’s easy, but I’m in a position where I do have flexibility and it’s important for me to spend 1-2 days each week with Simon.

I don’t multitask well. Or rather I do it adequately, but I always feel pulled in so many directions. I currently have five projects I’m supposed to be working on, plus teaching. There is another reason to celebrate though, and that is my paper was given a “revise and resubmit” which is the academic world is “basically an accept” so I can call this a PASS, and am excited that there is a really good chance my paper will be published in the summer. But I have until February 12 to finish the revisions. I can do that.

I have to finish the teaching but only one more week of that this semester. Yay! Then I can focus on the other projects, one of which I’m hoping will become my dissertation.

So really, I’m not failing at life. I did maybe fail some at living my life with intent this year, as I mostly felt like I was running a marathon that still hasn’t ended. But I passed the EXAM, I may have a paper published soon, and me and Simon have the best days together.

Moving forward I need to work on my priorities by continuing to say no. I am at a place where I can better dictate my timeline and will work on slowing down. It’s time for me to celebrate the good things in my life, and take the time to enjoy them.


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One thought on “Pass / Fail: ABD & reflections on a year gone by

  1. Congrats on being ABD!!! It’s been just over a year for me since I passed the exam. And while I sometimes feel low over the fact that I’m still not writing the diss, I try to focus on all the things I *have* done– had a baby! BF him for a year! Taught a class! Written and passed my proposal! Submitted to a conference! Almost finished my outline for chapter 1! (Yes, I am my own best cheerleader).

    And revise and resumbit! Way to go, you. You are ahead of the game, for sure.

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