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Premature euphoria and displacement activity

Choose the odd one out of this grouping...

For the past three weeks, since returning from a long-anticipated holiday, I have felt that the end of my PhD has arrived. Not that it is soon to arrive, but as if it already has, that the final deed has been accomplished. I am labelling this oddly pleasurable phenomenon 'premature euphoria'.  This euphoria has been very real, very beguiling, and as if the intense pressure of the past two years has lifted and floated off somewhere else.

At first, I moved unquestioningly through the days in this state of mind, even going so far as to check out three (not one but three) detective novels from the library for fun-only reading! I consumed these novels so quickly that it startled me out of the euphoria, for a moment, to reflect. And this is when I found myself staring at the pile of fun books stacked next to the pile of academic texts yet to be read.

Hmmm, I thought, something isn't quite right here. Where has the suffocating rush to finish my thesis gone? Where is the guilt that usually accompanies such gluttonous displacement activity? 

Yes, this sudden gorge has prompted me to return to, and finally read, the last chapter of my 'How to' thesis book (very sobering). That said, I'm also sitting here with a new Stephen King novel which I fully intend to spend tomorrow reading, with little thought of critical note taking or referencing or chapter arguments.

Maybe this is the thing that doctoral students go through with the final gauntlet. I've committed myself now to finishing my thesis in the next five months and I can imagine myself moving directly toward that finish line...when I get to the end of another few juicy novels first... But deep down I can sense a little tremor of fear, that what I suspect is five more months of even flow through to the end will really be (yes, I definitely sense it) a mad final sum up where, like in a Poirot mystery, all of my chapters will be sat down together in a room and given a thorough bollocking before the conclusion (or maybe that's the Viva I have in mind)! 

Those Agatha Christie Poirot endings always strike me as exhausting, like a marathon completed at a sprint. And that's surely what I've always always thought of as the potential end to my PhD, to any PhD in fact--that no matter how methodically and diligently I've paced myself, that the end will unarguably be a full-out, crazy-mad rush to the finish.  

I guess I'll find out soon enough!


  1. ...yes. Yes it does feel kind of like the end of a Poirot, finishing and defending that dissertation. :)


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