Entering the home straight

I had my PhD viva a month ago, and have minor corrections to complete by the 20th of August. Then it goes to Senate, and once they say ‘Yes’ I can officially call myself Dr Kayt Armstrong. Which is all a bit awesome really.

I am acutely aware that the last 6 months of my life have been very chaotic and I have been through a whirlwind of emotions and tumult. There were times that I thought I’d never finish it and submit, let alone get through the viva.

Then, after I finished, I thought at times that I had totally messed my life up by doing the PhD at all: The first half of 2010 was NOT a good time to be trying to get a job in the South East of the UK. I temped a lot, and then finally landed a 6 month contract doing IT stuff for a legal firm. I applied for some archaeology stuff, but either I picked the wrong jobs, or my pitch was off- nothing came of it either way. I have been reluctant to blog about the job-thing because I was worried about what potential employers would think of my despair!

I try not to write when I am down as it’s not healthy, and at the end of the day, I don’t want this blog to be about all of that stuff. I might have a whine on twitter when having a bad day, but the internet is NOT the place to deal with life stuff.

So, 6 months of a job that will keep my brain going, teach me some useful skills and pay the bills. 2 months to do my corrections, finish the last of my statutory reporting (I still have to do a bit of official reports, but was waiting for any input my examiners had before I finalised things). 6 months to start pitching towards post-doctoral research projects. 6 months to make it happen. It feels fantastic to have finished, but there are still several mountains to climb.  Sometimes I think that being a grown up is realising that it won’t all be over when you meet that deadline, that there is always more to do.

A lot of people get that it won’t all be plain sailing from now on; but I also have to explain, a lot, to people that just because I will soon be Dr Kayt, it doesn’t mean that an academic role, a lecturing job, even an archaeology-job is going to fall into my lap. I will still have to spend lots of time writing, working, and being stressed about it all. And I am working full time, so it will have to be during all this free time that finishing the PhD was supposed to create!

I feel a bit lost without a plan, so I am trying to get back into the mindset I had during the last 5 years of study (and especially on my MSc, when I was working 32 hours a week as well as studying). I need to plan my time, I need to work out long in advance how long things will take. So, apologies in advance – being spontaneous might still be tricky for me!

I have had some fun, spontaneous times- we went to Holland, to see my little brother, and to watch 30 Seconds to Mars. I have had some damn fine meals out, and been out dancing. I think I’ve forgotten how to socialise, but I am sure it will come back!

So why the rambling entry? I think I am trying to push myself into being more organised, writing my own personal diary more often, and doing the planning thing, by declaring it publicly it feels more real. I have had a lot of false starts over the last few months, days when I have woken up and said ‘new routine as of now’ and busted all my own rules by the end of the day. The scary truth is that I have 5 months or so to come up with a way to make it all work, and ensure I keep the PhD momentum going. I can’t do that by stumbling through each week, waiting for the weekend and just getting through. Each day needs to count. Starting now.