Reflections from before sunrise

This is my 13th flight in this graduate degree. The 13th time I have buckled my seatbelt and listened to the directions on what to do in a water landing. And the 13th time I’ve wondered why they give that information considering all the mountains this plan will be traveling over. I always hope the pilot can aim for a lake among the trees.

This is the 1st time I have sat in first class on one of these flights; actually, on any flight. I keep wondering if everyone else can tell I’m new (and based on my career path, never going to be here again). My legs easily cross in front of me. Have an extra inch of margin on either side in the seat. And I’m pretty sure I’m getting a free breakfast (I was too embarrassed to check when asked if I wanted eggs or yogurt).

It’s been over four years in this journey of airplane rides with lots of papers, books, and conversations in between. During this time I have never regretted signing up for this program. But if I’m being honest, there have been many moments (especially in the past two months) when I have questioned if I will ever reach the finish line. An autobiography by an ultra-marathon runner has highlighted for me that the courage to start does not guarantee a finish. It just guarantees a start.

In about 27 hours I’ll walk into a classroom for my dissertation defense. I don’t know what it will be like when I walk out in about 29 hours to wait for the committee to determine how close or how far I am from graduation. The thousands of hours, hundreds of pages, and 13 flights cannot tell me what someone else will think or say or do. They can tell me (pardon my language), that I have worked my ass off figuratively and literally (lots of stress running) over these years to get into the room where it happens.

God knows #WhatsNext and I’ll find out soon. Yikes.

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