Holidays at Home

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Photo by jill111 / Pixabay

Like many of my fellow grad students, I travelled home to spend the holidays with my family. I‘m half way though my vacation and things are following the same predictable pattern, more or less. There is the excitement of seeing my parents and siblings, followed quickly by the readjusting to suddenly living with 6 people (I normally live alone). We all open our presents together, play board games and enjoy lots of good food (though this year half of us got food poisoning!). And while I’ve experienced the holiday joy Heather talks about, I also experience the impostor syndrome Angel describes so accurately, especially since everyone knows I’ve been doing cancer research for the last 5+ years.

But more than that, what I get these days are the questions like; “When are you finishing?” “What will you do next?” “Will you stay in Montreal?” “But I thought you were going to be a …?” If you’ve seen some of my earlier posts (Grad School! But then what? 1 and 2) you know that I’ve been dealing with some anxiety about what to do after my PhD. So these questions, while well meant, tend to touch on some deep-seated insecurity about what my future holds.

Of course the intense soul-searching required to answer these questions don’t really play well at dinner parties so I’ve prepared a number of stock answers ahead of time. It makes it a lot easier than stumbling my way through the labyrinth of possible answers to these seemingly simple questions. My trick is to keep the answers short, but always include a caveat or leave it open-ended in case things change in the future. Keeping things vague is always the way to go.

But these questions are valid and I am working on coming up with actual answers to them. Which brings me to my major New Year’s Resolution. I really want 2017 to be the year I submit my PhD thesis. Like Aleks suggests I have broken this goal up into pieces with a number of milestones to hit throughout the year. But I’m also trying to keep perspective; if I don’t hit my deadline it’s not the end of the world. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

But for now I’m going to try and enjoy the rest of my vacation, soak up extra time with my family and not worry too much about all the work that awaits upon my return to Montreal. So however you’re spending you holidays I hope they have been good ones and I wish you all the best of luck for the New Year!

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