You Must Be This Tall To Ride

Amusement park signs have never bothered me.

I’m tall and I don’t like rollercoasters. Those signs with arrows indicating heights have always been for someone else. My daughter, however, is six, and tall for her age, but short for the signs. “You can’t go on this one, it’s not for you, not yet, not now.” Tears of frustration follow, until another diversion is found.

Frustration and sometimes tears show up around the end of a PhD too. Frustration brought on by fear, worry, anxiety – candidates wondering if they’ve hit the mark. Has their thesis passed the test? Have they done enough? It’s not wrong to wonder, it’s natural given how important everything is at that stage. The thesis, the PhD, the effort that goes into them – your efforts – they’re all important.

It takes time for children to grow so that they pass the arrow on a rollercoaster sign. Academia doesn’t print any signs like that, but they’re there, invisible, and probably behind you now as you head towards the end of your PhD…

You Must Be This Good To Viva.

And to get as far as you have, you must be good enough.