I survived my dissertation defense! Oh boy, the last month has been nonstop work, work, work. Evenings, weekends, all naps. It's been tough. I am beyond exhausted. My defense was yesterday and it went as well as I could have asked. I spent all weekend practicing my talk. I have pretty major anxiety about public speaking and obviously a lot more was riding on this presentation than any I have given in the past. I basically have to write a script that I memorize. My biggest fear is that I will forget what I'm going to say and just stand up there and look like a fool. I knew the talk back and forth, upside-down and right-side-up. I'm still reciting it when I close my eyes. I was very nervous when I started. The defense is a public event, so anyone can attend. I kind of wanted to keep it under wraps because there were certain people in the department I did not want there. But, I have to admit that I was happy when I saw so many people show up to support me. People from the zoo came and so many graduate students. It was a pretty good turn-out.
When I started out, I felt completely sick, but I made sure I knew those slides in the beginning like the back of my hand because I knew that was when I would be the most nervous. If I got those out, I knew I could get into my groove and I did. My breathing was shallow when I started, but my advisor told me afterward that I didn't seem nervous. As I completed each section of my talk, I gained momentum and knew that I was one step closer to it all being over. By the time I gave my acknowledgments, I was fighting back tears (unsuccessfully) as I thought about all the people who helped me along the way, especially my parents and my husband. I admit I had dreamed of that day so many times, wondering if I would ever get there. One of my committee members told me that she has never had a student that encountered as many obstacles as I did. I think my committee was impressed with the way it all came together.
After the public defense, I met with my committee for the private defense. I didn't really know what to expect, but I wasn't nervous at that point. I have a really great committee and we basically just had a conversation about things and it was very relaxed. I didn't know how extensive the revisions for the manuscript would be, especially since no one had given me comments about my last chapter and I was the least confident about that one. But, they passed it all and I have virtually nothing to fix. YAY! I have a few very minor things and then I meet with the candidacy advisor on Monday to review formatting. And then that's it, folks. I am finished. Wow.
I have received so many kind phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, etc. I am so touched by the outpouring of support. I just can't believe it's all over. The night before the defense, I only got three hours of sleep, but I was so happy last night to just sit on the couch with my dogs and my birds and my husband and be a normal person. With the summer coming, there are so many activities we are going to do as a family, I just can't wait! I have lot of blog posts I want to do now that I have free time again. I look forward to catching up with all of my favorite blogs and thank all of my virtual friends for the support you've given me. I am a pretty lucky girl. A tired girl, but a lucky girl. It's going to take awhile for it all to sink in, I think. But, I already feel so relaxed and I'm sure Jason appreciates that:)
I will leave you with a picture of some of my biggest cheerleaders who pushed me to finish even when it seemed like an impossible feat.