Yesterday it occurred to me that I’ve been in school pretty much non-stop since September of 1985, and that I will  be done in just a little over 2 weeks from now.  I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to adjust to this dramatic shift in my condition and (given that I have yet to secure a real job) how this will affect how I identify myself.

As much as people joke about the perils of being a grad student, it honestly hasn’t been too bad.  A few individuals excepted, most people around me have been amazing, supportive, and friendly.  I suppose that makes the exceptions even more stark, but those people don’t deserve any more of my time, consideration, or words.

So, back to the good.  I’ve had a multitude of experiences that have taught me so much about academic life, research, and working with others.  I’ve made friends in a way I wasn’t ready for in high school or college. In all of our dork talk and commiseration, we’ve formed bonds that will develop into lifelong friendships and collaborations.  At conferences, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world who open my eyes to new possibilities.  I’ve met people who have been in the field longer than I’ve been alive and still have that spark.  Granted, I’m not all that old, but it’s amazing to think that one can stay excited and alive for decades like that in the face of obstacles and frustrations.

It can only get better from here.  I have no idea what’s in store for me, but I know that I have a great foundation to build upon and that I can be ready for almost anything.  This wouldn’t have been possible without so many people along the way who were amazing friends and colleagues, and I’ll carry that with me to wherever I end up next.