Preparing for my final year of grad school

It’s finally here. Or at least I hope it’s finally here. My last year of grad school. Nothing will be certain until I defend my thesis and submit it to the graduate school. But if anything, this will be my last year on campus.

As excited as I am for it, there is also the potentially paralyzing fact that I have no idea what comes next. I’ll graduate, get my degree… then what? I have some ideas of what I’d like to do, but honestly when I think of my future past graduation I keep coming up blank.

I think part of this is because there is so much ahead of me just to finish this degree. My entire thesis, essentially. My topic has been approved by my committee and the graduate school. Now I just need to go through training to show I know how to work with human subjects (i.e. ethics training), then actually start my research. After that comes the months of writing, rewriting, and editing.

As intimidating as it all is… a tertiary research question has brought about a new theme that I think might help shape future dissertation work. That has me really excited. Assuming I get to do further academic work in this field, that is. I know the risk of a Ph.D. — tenure jobs are scarce and the whole academic job field is imploding with poorly paid adjunct positions. I feel like I’m going into that with open eyes, I know the reality of this future… but I also cannot imaging being happier doing anything other than teaching anthropology at this current time. So I feel like I owe it to myself to at least try. Who knows, maybe along the way I’ll find another job that I love and all will be good.

I’ll admit, amidst all this excitement and happiness, part of me has been wondering when the other shoe will drop. Good things don’t last, right? But I’m working myself out of that thinking and just allowing myself to be happy. The past several months haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been good. I’m happy. I’m ready for whatever challenge this next school year will bring — and oh there will definitely be challenges.

I’ve got some things I’ve been working on, some potential adventures planned… and I’m just really excited to share those with you as the time comes. Just one more week and then it all starts. It’s like waiting in line for a ride… you’ve patiently waited for your turn, built up the excitement in your head, reassured yourself… now all that’s left is to hop in and hold on. Let’s go…