52 Weeks of Writing: Week 21—This is the week I got my second PhD

52 Weeks of Writing: Week 21—This is the week I got my second PhD
Photo by Lacie Slezak / Unsplash

This has been an enormous week for me. A weekly review doesn't feel like enough, somehow, given that this was such an important moment in my life.

I was awarded my PhD. I can't find the right words to describe it. Technically, I've been "recommended for the award of PhD", which has been ratified by the PGR Director at the university. I have to resubmit the final version by early June and then graduate in July.

I've been feeling unsatisfied with the questions I was using for my weekly review. These are taken from Alyssa's creative lifestyle instead.

1. What was my biggest accomplishment over the past week?

Does it count to say that my biggest accomplishment was getting the result of my resubmitted PhD? It's a very strange situation, because I actually did the resubmission in December and January. It's taken nearly six months to get the outcome.

I also ran a half-marathon with my dad on Sunday. It's been a big week, all things considered.

You know what's weird about these moments? We have a lot of resources and about a billion blog posts and videos and TikToks probably about working toward goals, but very little about the moment of achievement.

My biggest accomplishment, in some senses, wasn't achieving the PhD but being able to stop and acknowledge it. I decided I wanted to celebrate this in my own way. My whole life, I've looked to other, neurotypical people, to figure out how to celebrate. But those celebrations felt performative.

2. What lessons did I learn from things that didn’t go quite right?

Nothing stands out this week as something that didn't go quite right. It all feels oddly trivial. I did a run that wasn't great yesterday. I didn't feel awesome, so I finished early. I know already that it's fine to do that.

Also, a confession: I did no Amnar writing at all. Fifty-two weeks of writing, but this week has not produced writing. I have decided I dislike the ending of the last scene I wrote, and that was all. However, there are times as an adult when you can't write. It's just not going to happen. This was one of those weeks, and that's okay.

3. What (quotes, affirmations, etc.) kept me inspired this week?

I'm really not into quotes or affirmations at all. I haven't felt like I needed much in the way of inspiration, to be honest.

4. Did I complete any projects or tasks this week?

You know what I completed? Here's the honest answer. I completed the task of waiting to find out a thing. One thing I love about neurodivergent spaces is the understanding that tasks are made up of a lot of mini-tasks, and some of those tasks are obscure, like waiting for something or needing something.

This week, I finished the task of waiting to find out whether I'd done enough to get a PhD. I've been waiting in one form or another since December last year. My life carried on, but there was a part of me doing the background task of thinking about it, of not knowing and being uncertain, of puzzling about what I'd do if I hadn't done enough.

All of this required some small part of my energy every day. This ramped up when the waiting required more active participation. I had to send emails to ask questions. When I found out, I had to puzzle my way through the steps of telling people, of receiving congratulations.

So that's the big task and project I completed this week.

5. Any pending tasks?

All my tasks are such big ongoing things they will take longer than a week to complete. I am going to work on a blog post about Babel next week.

6. Did I stick to my plan and stay focused?

YouTube, as usual, is my downfall. I did the work I needed to do, but a lot of this week has been spent in the strange open space when a massive thing ends. I will write a long piece about how I came to do two PhDs, but that's for another day.

7. What kind of progress did I make on my big monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals?

Well, as I said above, I didn't do any Amnar work this week, except thinking about it. This wasn't a week for progressing things. The liminal space between finishing one thing and starting another is important.

Actually, this is something I'd like to blog about in a focused way. We give so little time to this moment. Throughout my PhD (both of them), people asked, "What will you do next?" And it's always frustrated me, because it doesn't recognise the space of finishing, of ending.

8. What is the #1 thing I need to accomplish next week?

I need to finish an editing test for a job. I'd also like to submit the final-final-final version of the PhD so I can confirm my intention to graduate in July.

9. What can I do right now to make next week less stressful?

I am going to make more of an effort to be conscious about what I do and when I do it. This isn't about pushing forward, but thinking cautiously and slowly about what I do now and next. What would I like the rest of my life to look like? That's the question I have to answer now.

10. What am I most grateful for about this past week?

A standard list of things. My partner, for being here through all of this. We met as I was waiting to get funding to do this PhD. He hasn't known me as somebody either waiting to start or being in the middle of a PhD.

My therapist, who is utterly awesome. My cat, for being a cute little monster, who doesn't care what I've done this week but is annoyed that the smaller animals in the world won't play with her. All my friends, my parents, my PhD supervisor, and my current course convenor, for being there. Jenny, for being the big support in my Amnar and writing-specific space.

Lastly, the sun has been shining. Everything is so intensely green around here, and I'm so grateful for that.