Exactly two weeks ago, I wasn't even sure if I was going to get here. This process has shown me that you can really do anything you put your mind toward accomplishing. I didn't expect the big snafu that I had at the end of this process and I spent my entire spring break fretting and fixing and revising chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation. Today was the last day to defend in order to graduate this term. Two weeks ago, I truly wasn't sure I was going to make it.
Today all of those fears were washed away. In August, I defended my proposal. What a nervous wreck I was! I don't think I've ever felt so scared in my life. You work so hard toward something and it all comes down to one big presentation. It can be scary.
I over prepared for the proposal defense. To the point that I audio recorded myself giving the presentation, transcribed it and made myself a script that I read as I presented. Since I read out loud all the time, it wasn't hard to read it and make it sound like I was speaking it. I had fully planned to and expected to do that same thing for the big dissertation defense.
But I didn't. To be 100% honest, I didn't really prepare. I had my presentation ready on April 6th when I uploaded my revised draft, but hadn't done anything else with it until this morning. I needed to focus my energy on my students and it was a busy week just coming back from break. I planned to spend last time prepping but I didn't.
By this point, truly, if you do not know your study cold, you have a problem. You've spent so much time and energy, expended so many tears (at least I did, and I am not a big crier), that you best know it. The questions they ask shouldn't throw you for a loop; you should be able to articulate anything they toss your way.
It is nerve-wrecking. I won't deny that. But it is also the most amazing thing in the world to be on this side of the defense. I'm not really any different than I was yesterday. I'm still me. Now I just have more credentials. My husband says I no longer look like I have an 800 pound weight on my back (and believe me, I no longer feel that weight either). This process has been, by far, the most stressful, overwhelming and amazing thing I have ever done. I wouldn't change it for anything.