Last year this time, I was 2 months into my PhD program. I was fretting about my preliminary exam due in the next 3 months. I was struggling with learning to critique papers and write literature reviews.
The same time this year, I finished my qualifiers. Then I proposed, and they accepted. Not once, or twice, but thrice. This summer, I sent out 3 proposals for 2 national conferences. Academic daddy had made it clear that if I wanted to attend these conferences, I had to make sure that I had a research agenda, wrote a good proposal, and it got accepted. Fair deal. I was extra keen on getting accepted, since one of the conference venues was international. Hence, I sent out 2 proposals. Just to make sure I ended up going somewhere at least, I sent the last one to another conference.
One by one, all three of them got accepted in the last 4 days. First, it was the joy of delivering twins, and yesterday, I got the news they were actually triplets. When I checked the website for reviews, what I saw was a miracle. For one of my proposals, both my peer reviewers had rejected it based on certain methodological flaws. However, the editors still went ahead and accepted it because the topic was important enough, and flaws could be fixed. My last one made it despite a 100% rate of rejection.
Needless to say, I have been on cloud 9. As a student 14 months into the program, I had not even hoped for a single acceptance. However, I no longer attribute it to the lack of confidence or experience. When you are so new to the program, sometimes you do not know how important your findings are. I analyzed my data, looked at my findings with nonchalance and thought to myself, “Whatever”. My adviser looked at it and got really excited about the findings. That day, I realized that although I was learning to analyze data, I had still not developed the eye to chaff good data from bad data. I looked at diamonds and thought they were just stones.
Today, I write this post as a tribute to my academic daddy once again. I have not had many academic role models in my life, but one fine day, I just got lucky. Like my data, one fine day, I found a gem of an adviser and didn’t realize it until I started to see the results of his advising. He has pushed me to the best of my abilities, and there were times when I was stressed, unhappy, and disillusioned. However, this has been a part of the rigorous training. And this reminds me of a quote from Newton,
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
For once, I do not feel the stress of the possibility of not finding a job. I will exult in the current achievements, get those suckers out for publication (my papers I mean), and try finishing the PhD aee ess aee pee now.