Notes from doctoral life #19: my Okinawa battle

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Finally I’m a Ph.D in Social Sciences! I defended my dissertation yesterday, October 18th. Besides being a result of intellectual work, and of a professional decision, doing a Ph.D is a process of huge personal growth. And of transformation, for real, it was really tough, but also, it was amazing. It was really tought, but also, it was amazing

I’m happy but exhausted, it took me 2 years to “finish the process” I made a huge effort, with good and bad choices, good and bad people, good and bad moments

Some months ago I watched Netflix’s documentario on Second World War, and the episode of the Okinawa battle left me totally drained: it was like the process I was going trough, a continual wear That battle was one of the toughest on the Pacific, as japaneses had war methods quite unusual which aimed at wearing out their enemy I thought this was a great analogy to express what you feel going through the doctoral process, which, according to some people on the Internet, in places such as Quora: is made to break you The documentary shows what characterized japanese: a mind battle made to stress the enemy The United States wanted to end the war But the first step towards tending WWII was invading Japan. And for this, they would first take Okinawa y and then Kyushu.

The Okinawa Battle

But japanese decided that they wouldn’t let US army go through their land, even though that meant taking risky and cruel decisions such as blending with the population in caves, and extreme measures such as what the kamikazes did taking too far the will to destroy HIstorians say about Okinawa that “losers were euphoric, while winners were depressed”. It was a weird battle

And so many deaths made that President Truman accelerated the decision of the Atomic Bomb -which was being developed- in order to avoid another Okinawa battle that would demoralize the people of the US, and make them lose more lifes There’s a reference to a war neurosis which affected U.S soldiers, that were tired and initially thought that they would take Okinawa in just a few days. Actually, it took them 83 to hoist their flag

The PhD is much more than studying, writing, producing and publishing As I’ve already post here, you embody it For years, my weekends were the time when I had to write and send articles, or work because deadlines where usually on monday. Therefore, tuesdays or wednesdays I had my days off. And so on

Your social life, as you knew it, disappears, is a struggle and a sustained process in time, after which you realize why it had to take 5 years aprox Even when you spend years doing exams, reporst, articles, deadlines, exámenes, avances, artículos, and you finish them, you only feel that you are winning “for just a while” Until it’s over, it isn’t over

People who are there to support you are the most important, you need to choose well because they can make your process harder or help you In summary, the resistance -or resilience- to that continual wearing out is key to get to the end of it

So, when they approved my dissertation and they told me I could defend it I thought “this martyrdom ends, finally”. But, on the other hand, I wanted to end the process well, and the defense is a very important part. I was really tired by I prepared the presentation consciously. At the defense, I had 45 minutes to present my dissertation, my objectives, how I worked, findings, main contribution, etc. To force myself to be clear, even when it was an academic event I invited friends and family (it was a public and virtual activity). At a moment I thoughte “oh, I might get nervous with all these people”, but I was excited. A lot of people may prefer to do it silently, but I enjoyed it.

So now I can relax and rest 🙂

Rocky Balboa. The sensation og “I DID IT!!”

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