Today, I had my PhD viva - I didn't get a definite 'pass' - OUCH!
3 and a half years of research, only to be asked 'what exactly is your scientific contribution to knowledge?'.... hmmm.... it was like taking a bullet to the heart. I can still feel the burn hours later...
I defended my thesis and I was able to convince my examiners of my knowledge, of my contribution, of the fact that I hadn't wasted 3 and half years of my life and that I wasn't wasting their time at that very moment. The result was basically that my work was fantastic (toot toot), my understanding was brilliant - BUT (and it's a big BUT), my actual thesis did not demonstrate my level of understanding - apparently, I had 'undersold' my work... the irony!
Let me explain something, I am no quitter and am certainly not 'used' to dealing with failure. I have always been a borderline A/B student. I have mostly been able to tip the scale over and had pretty much secured a title as a straight A student - until today. The first thing that I ever (and I mean EVER) failed was my first driving test (I also failed my second driving test - but that's another story for another day).
So, what do you do when you feel a failure?
Do you cry? Well in this case - yes I cried (and yes, I'm not ashamed to admit to cyberspace that I cried during the actual viva!!!) - why? I'd been given an opportunity to make my write up even better? I'd been given more time to 'fix' my thesis. It was like a 'get out of jail free' card. Surely I should've been overjoyed?! Ummm - NO! I was distraught, and I cried. I cried because I am not accustomed to disappointment. I don't 'do' disappointing people - I am the 'Golden Child' of my family, one uncle when describing me to a much loved cousin said:
'everyone wants to be her friend; everybody wants to be her boss; everybody wants to be her Uncle!'
Hilarious statement if ever I heard one! Aside from family relations, I am the superwoman amongst my friends, the 'go to person' at work. It gets to a point when people say such nice things to you, that you actually believe them! Or do you? I became a victim of my own hype?! Yet when it came to 'hyping' myself up in my thesis, I had undersold myself! sigh....goshdarnitdammit!
Alas, I am invincible!
Despite my shock and disappointment, I am pleased to have been stopped in my tracks. To be forced to re-evaluate, not my thesis per se - but re-evaluate who the h*ck is in control here? For the last 2 weeks, I had been feeling really calm about my viva, in fact, worryingly so. I almost felt as though it was all out of my hands...that it was beyond my control...so instead of re-reading my thesis, I was 'thinking' about it. But, yesterday, I lapsed, I stopped thinking and started reading - big mistake! 'Reading' fooled me into thinking that I was in control...that I was the one who would determine my viva success (or non-success as it turns out!). I thought that if I read enough then I could make sure that I would pass. Of course, whilst reading, I realised that I had not read every single document ever written by any person in the world, and naturally, I started to panic - the viva palpitations had begun... (see Sunday's facebook update!)...
Luckily, in time for my viva, I got a grip and remembered, that having prayed for guidance - it was time to surrender the viva - to God.
As if by magic, the control has been snatched from my hands...(as if I had it anyway!) and I was forced to see that 'this is God's game..not yours'. And you know what, I am so very thankful for this lesson.
The thing that saved me in this viva, was all the stuff that I had thought about and not any of the stuff that I had read about. God saved me. I think that in future, I am going to wholeheartedly and consciously surrender everything to God. Not just say it, but actually do it..and I don't mean that kind of pretending that people do and then go on stressing about things anyway... I mean really surrendering things...and by 'things', I mean EVERYTHING.
So, everybody apparently wants to be my uncle (LOL), but the truth is, I am invincible, I am not superwoman and God is totally TOTALLY in control here - and I prefer it this way.
Thank you JC for the reminder! Now all I need to do is master some practical steps, to make sure that I remember that I am 'too blessed to be stressed'....