Pride and Productivity

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Reader, it happened. I submitted my PhD thesis.

The author, October 2nd. Not pictured: empty Red Bull cans

I am, as you can imagine, delighted. And exhausted. Every single person I saw on October 2nd said the same thing to me. “Make sure you take some time off and enjoy it!” And I did! I took three entire days off. Unthinkable to your average PhD researcher, especially those of us with a tendency to fetishise productivity. After a few days of sleeping late, making elaborate dinners, and watching Netflix (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend featured heavily) I felt myself getting the academic equivalent of itchy feet. My viva, though blissfully close at December 15th, still felt very far away. What’s a grad to do?

So I gave myself a couple of projects. I got into a conference – I’m very excited to meet people at Sheffield University on Halloween for their Gothic Bible symposium where I’ll be talking about Bishop Percy’s clerical texts. I was invited to write an entry for the new Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, which I imagined would be very fun until I had to actually read the novel – The Castle of Otranto, it ain’t. Then I got a job part-time note taking for the student support service. Then I got involved with some A-Level poetry workshops. Then a journal article… then a book proposal… then…. then… Before I knew it my iCal was a colour-coded smorgasbord of busyness. And I haven’t even figured out when I’ll do viva prep yet. Unbelievably, three weeks after submitting I am as busy as I was three weeks before. I need to run that math again.

But my friends and colleagues were right. We do need a break! Submitting your PhD is rewarding and we need a bit of time to process our achievement, to think about what comes next, to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and pride. This weekend, on my way to Sheffield, I am stopping at home in Glasgow for a few nights. My brother is about to graduate from his HND course (he’s the only person I know who walked right into a graduate job from college and is therefore also the savviest person I know) and I intend to treat him to a curry. It’s nice to be busy, but it’s even nicer to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Time to stop and smell the roses.

What did you busy yourself with after submitting? How do you plan to celebrate – or keep yourself distracted?


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