Status: ABD (all but dissertation)

You get there by realizing you are already there. -Eckhart Tolle

Two years ago I sat sobbing in my boyfriend’s car.  Earlier that day, the PhD program I’d applied to called me to schedule an interview.

“What if I get in? Then what am I going to do?” Fat tears ran down my face, fear ripped at my heart.

“You’ll be scared at first…and then you’ll show up and you’ll do the work and you’ll keep doing it, day after day.  Before you know it, 2 years will have passed and you’ll be halfway done.”

I got in.  And I showed up week after week.  And I did the work, even when it was returned to me and I had to do it twice, three times.  Even through more tears and more fear of failing and wanting to run away, I just kept going.

Two years have passed.  Today was my final presentation in my very last class.  I presented my dissertation proposal to my cohort, my professor and the new associate dean.

“I’m so nervous!”  I said to my boyfriend, but this time no tears, just the same familiar hammering heart in my chest.

“The fear is what makes you good.  It helps you prepare.  You’re ready. Kick ass.”

And I did.  All the class work the past two years–the process of becoming a writer and a researcher–came through in my presentation. I am confident I haven’t wasted one moment.  I have struggled to shape myself–my thoughts and my behavior.  Day after day, I have embraced the work, pain and the joy of mastery.

And now I’m ABD.  And not much has changed except everything has.  And yet I realized today, I’ve been here all along.  How did I do it?  Same way I’ll get through the next year of research and writing: one foot in front of the other, steadfast in my commitment to the process, a firm vision of success before me at all times.

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