Not too long ago, I went to my good friend, Jay Patel’s, surprise graduation party. He PhinisheD! (Phinished = a pun on finishing the PhD process). Congrats Dr. Patel! I’m sure there’s only one of you out there! (Haha– just forget about the other three Dr. Patels in your immediate family alone)
Being surrounded by his huge, supportive family was deeply touching. You could feel the pride beaming off from each person who was there. Pride that their son, grandson, nephew, brother, boyfriend, or friend, had finally done it. After six long years of numerous experiments, redirections, and long-term studies, he finally made it. He PhinisheD!Each person there, I’m sure, played an important role in helping him complete his degree. I imagine they listened to him troubleshoot problems he was having in the lab. Perhaps they offered him some advice and perspective, be it scientific or not. Maybe they took him out for dinner after a frustrating night at the lab, or even after a successful one! Whatever it was, no matter how trivial, I’m sure it made a difference. Like the saying goes, it truly “takes a village” to finish the PhD.
Attending his graduation party was great. Not only did it provide a set standard for my own graduation party (I’m looking at you, parents! Haha, just kidding), it also made me truly appreciate all of the people in my own life who have helped me along the way to the PhD. My friends, both inside and outside of the lab, have helped me immensely to de-stress by providing an outlet to vent. Our adventures have been a valuable source of entertainment, getting my mind off of lab-related matters. My family often lends a listening ear, and provides much-needed home-cooked meals during my visits home. I’m not sure if all of these people truly understand how much their seemingly small actions have helped me keep momentum in the PhD process, but here is my opportunity to say Thank You!
A word of advice to my fellow graduate students: use your network of non-scientist friends and family members who care about you. Lean on them, grab dinner, or take a walk in the park with them. Although it may not seem like it at times, there is much more to this world than your research project! This network can help you keep this in perspective and possibly help you approach your work with a fresh attitude.
Attending Dr. Patel’s party about a year before I plan to graduate gives me something to look forward to, especially those conversations, pep-talks, and dinners. I’m sure they will be much-needed, especially when I sit down to write the dissertation.
Thank you, friends and family members, who have already supported me thus far. Thank you for not letting me quit. And thank you in advance for being there in this year to come: the final year until I phinish. I look forward to seeing you at my very own phinishing celebration in 2018. Mark your calendars!