The joy and trepidation of graduation. The completion of my PhD marks the official end of my student life, which will constitute close to 75% of my lifetime by the time I graduate. I’ll finally move on after years of homework and exams, not to mention many hours of research on the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide on carbonate ecosystems.
Completion gives satisfaction. To finally conquer a seemingly endless challenge, which right now seems to be the project of my life, is a source of tremendous joy. At first, I didn’t see the benefit of receiving a fancy piece of paper with three rather ordinary letters after my name. But then I remembered working around the clock — in the field collecting water samples, in the lab analysing chemical properties, and in front of the computer creating numerical models, typing papers and analysing my results. And, of course, there was the amount of free time that I spent contemplating and reflecting on my research. Suddenly that piece of paper seems invaluable and those three letters magical.
Eventually, the anticipated graduation euphoria will subside and I may come to realize that it was just another stepping stone. Around the corner, adventures are lining up. With a few months to go, I still do not know what route I’ll choose. It may be a postdoc, a teaching position, something outside academia, or I may even pack my bags and explore the world for a while. Regardless, I’m excited by the prospect of myriad possible directions.