Bernie Divall | This post was originally published September 21, 2012

by college degrees 360 creative commons

Well, it’s Friday evening, and I’m sitting in my office having a bit of a moment.  You know, one of those moments when your brain feels like it might actually BURST!  It’s silly really, but it’s just hit home that I only have 10 days of my PhD life left, and then I have to go and be an actual grown up again.  Not a grown up like when I was a midwife, but a grown up researcher.  Off I go, into another new room, which is lit up by those stupid energy saving lightbulbs that take about 10 minutes to get going.  I’ve walked in, switched the light on, and now I have to stand around waiting to see what’s actually in there as the lights get brighter.  At least, I hope that’s what will happen, now that I have a letter confirming the post, and I’ve filled in a billion forms, and met with the research fellow I’m taking over from.

So I’m going to be a research fellow for six months.  That sounds like a proper job, doesn’t it?  I have a contract and everything.  But essentially, I feel as clueless as ever – I’m going to be covering maternity leave, so I really am just a stand-in.  An understudy.  A temp.  And although the research is in the NHS, it concerns elderly care, so something quite different from my usual line of work.  But I have to be really good at the job, and I have to still try and finish my thesis at the same time.  Not to mention commitments to conference presentations and some lovely teaching.

And at the end of six months, who knows what will happen?  Apparently there are things in the pipeline for me, but I’m left with a sense of just not knowing which door I’ll be opening next.  Or whether the next room will have good old-fashioned lightbulbs that work straight away, which would be nice.

I’m allowing myself a moment of utter fear (hello, my old friend), in the hope that when I wake up tomorrow morning I’ll have worried all the worry out of my system and I can take everything in my stride.  And then I can write like a demon for the next week, and feel slightly less disappointed that my thesis will have to take a bit of a back seat for the few weeks after that as I settle into the fellowship role.  Maybe the break will do me good, as I still feel like I’m fermenting the eureka moment I had last week.  I hope so.  And I also hope my family is prepared for me to be working all week and writing all weekend for the next however long until the thesis is finished.

I think the next few months are going to be quite different from the past three years.  And I may need some hand holding.  Just thought I’d put that out there…