Falling Into Place

I think there’s a hope that everything just falls into place at the end of the PhD process.

A hope that everything just lines up perfectly like a big row of dominoes.

The idea you were missing hits the notion you needed to write, which completes the paragraph that was holding you up, so that the chapter which didn’t have a conclusion is finished, now your supervisor can give you feedback and your thesis gets submitted on time, and your examiners can judge everything to be right enough, and you enter the viva with a completely calm mind ready to respond – even to that one tricky question – and then you’ve passed and it’s done and you’ve finished.

The final domino falls over, you are a PhD.


But it won’t work like that.

Because you’ll miss a typo in the proofreading stage, meaning that that page is now a little muddled, and your supervisor will be rushed – because they will be at the moment – and while you’ll submit on time (probably), you’ll still feel a bit pressured because everyone’s feeling it, your examiners too, and they’ll be convinced by your thesis but still have questions you need to respond to, questions on the whys and hows and “What’s this?” – which you can reply to, because if you can’t, who can? – even that tricky question and you will pass, and it will be done and you will have finished.

The dominoes won’t be a neat straight line, but you’ll be a PhD.

It’ll be an explosion of fallen dominoes that somehow still make it to the end.

Things don’t just happen, everything won’t just fall into place. There’ll be friction and problems and despite all of that you’ll succeed. The imperfections won’t stop the clear outcome you’re on track for at this stage.