Many times we look back when the end of December and the year we have had and what our hopes and dreams are in the new year ahead. Today, I saw something a bit different, in a few days it will be November and if things have their way it means a year from now I should be either defending my dissertation or I should be at the very least be close to completing it. Since beginning my journey towards my doctorate almost four years ago. I have seen the end of each semester as one more step towards completion but it wasn’t until a year ago when I signed up for my candidacy exam that it became incredibly real.
Then this past April I passed my exam lining me up with getting a chair, a dissertation committee, and preparing for proposal. Then something happened, I lost my job in September and with it, I thought my entire research. However, something amazing happened, I not only found a new job but I found several people interested in being part of my research and then I started getting messages to meet with my professors to get my proposal together. While, I probably won’t be defending my proposal until the beginning of the year I had a moment. I got really pumped to do this like never before. We had a guest speaker the other week in class asking if we could see “doctor” on our email or name tag and I was one of a few who raised their hands. He told us that was good because if you can’t at least picture that, then the road is going to be much, much harder. Not that this is going to be easy but at that moment, I not only could see myself completing this but also doing it. Now, I’m set up for meetings the next few weeks with my committee to go over writing strategies, cleaning up my proposal and eventually getting ready to do my research this spring. Which means a year from now, I going to have gone through challenges, experiences and moments I have never experienced before, but in the end it will have been for the better.
Fifteen years ago, if someone would have told me I would be this close to starting a dissertation and earning a doctorate I would have told them that they had the wrong guy. For years I was made to feel that I wasn’t smart enough and that average was all I was going to have. It took my wife telling me in 2009 that wasn’t true. It then took an amazing professor two years later to tell me that I could do even more. Now, here I am on the edge of doing something a younger me never believed I could do and I want to move past that edge into something both terrifying and yet amazing. While I can’t predict the future, I do know that when next year rolls around I will have completed something that I have been on a long road towards. Christopher Reeves said it best: “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
I’ve seen so many times over the last four years of events that made it look like completing doctorate would never happen. Yet, I have seen myself overcome those events one by one and sometimes in the most shocking ways. While I know there will be more ahead in the next year, I do see what I have seen even in the darkest times of this journey. Completion.