I’m finished. And without sounding blasphemous, it is finished!
My doctoral project was revised (ad nauseum), finally accepted, is now awaiting publication! I am now Dr. Kelly! I wish I could tell you that a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Or that I felt totally competent and ready to take on the world. But the truth is that the completion of my graduate degree was somewhat anticlimactic. I anticipated fireworks and skywriters announcing my graduation and completion of years of effort. I expected VIP treatment and a hush of reverence. However, what I received was simply this: an entered grade and a bill for regalia. I am now taking it upon myself to reflect, celebrate, and rest! I need time to recalibrate my schedule and decelerate from two full time jobs. Basically, Dr. Kelly is worn out and needs a minute to re-rad herself. So I started that process…
I would be disappointed with my end-of-degree-celebrations if I viewed my worth as dependent upon my grades, or degree, or prestige. But it’s not. I know this… and I remind myself of this often. I am not my productivity. I am not my degree. I am not my job.
I have learned a lot throughout this degree about the needs of infants, the experience of hospitalization for families, and the process of research, publication, and dissemination. Those were the “lessons” I expected to learn. But I also learned about the power of mediocrity, the benefits of “done” over “perfect”, the strategies needed to doggedly drive forward a project, and the benefits of sharing a journey with others.
I always hated group projects. I always felt like the one who did 90% of the work. But I’ve come to learn that life is a group project. Life makes us depend on others. I learned this in my own experience of this degree and it heavily saturated the results of the research I performed. People need other people. We’re built for community.
This doctorate is incredibly valuable and important — and also not. It has made me a better clinician… and also will change very little. I am still the same person. I believe that finding the balance between the sameness and the change is the key. I am thankful for so many who have excitedly cheered me on right through the finish line of this degree. And I am thankful for those who told me that they always thought of me as wonderful and worthy — no doctorate needed. As an achiever, this message will always be welcomed by my heart!
I plan to take time to celebrate. To attend commencement proudly. And to share my research with the hopes of helping others. I also plan to continue to serve the littlest of patients and sit with families in challenging times and to share the purpose of tiny snuggles.
So, I am proud to introduce Dr. Kelly to you all! She is excited to celebrate the completion of this journey and embark on the next. She worked hard, stayed up late, and learned a ton. She also plans to continue to be silly and wear costumes during therapy. No amount of education will negate her goals for laughter and play!