When does it get better?

It’s been nearly four months since submission. The early glow of handing the thesis in has worn off, as has the rush of getting my conference paper done. Beijing, with all its fun and learning, has faded in my memory and even our holiday (five weeks in Scandinavia and the Baltics) seems like a long time gone.

I started to really worry about my results at the end of July. Thinking, optimistically, that eight to ten weeks wait was reasonable. Three months came and went, and I signed up with a new supervisor as my old one retired. A formality, they said, as surely there won’t be much to do. August was cold and I tried to write a journal article from the thesis, but my heart wasn’t in it. How can I have faith in my research when my fate is in the hands of the examiners. They may hate it. They may hate me.

Jobs were applied for. I went to yoga. Consoling myself that I never expected to get on with the next phase of my life so soon. 2017 was always going to be the transition year. In the middle August my new supervisor said the examiners had an extension, so I was looking at the last week of the month. That Friday came and went. As did the following Monday. “Surely we can ask?” I emailed. The research office promised to “put pressure” on them. Weeks pass.

Now it’s September and I’m paralysed. I can’t write. I’ve been offered some limited research work but I have no confidence in my own capability to do it, so am hesitant to agree. I didn’t get the jobs I’d applied for, which logically I know is a good thing, as neither were right for me, but emotionally I’m crushed with further self doubt.

I’m 43 years old. I’ve wanted to do a PhD since I was 10. Yet I feel this process has unraveled me. I have had a successful, intellectual, well paying corporate career, yet now I feel unemployable. I am at a loss to what my future will hold. I’m riddled with anxiety and lack of faith in my own future. This was not what I expected.

When does it get better?