This morning (well, technically it was yesterday morning, but I just got off work not too long ago, and I haven’t slept yet, so to me it’s still today) I successfully defended my Master’s thesis. I’ve still got a couple more little things to do, but this was the last big hurdle; I’m definitely graduating this semester (basically, next week).
After I found out I passed, someone asked me how it felt to be done. I said, “Amazing!” or something of that sort, and in that moment, it was the absolute truth. After all, my current theme is “DreamCatcher,” and I’ve certainly been dreaming of this day for a long time; making it my reality is an amazing feeling.
Later on, while I was on my lunch break at work, I started thinking a bit more. I realized that in another week, I won’t be able to say that I’m a Master’s candidate anymore. I won’t be that anymore because I’ll have finished the degree. I was a little bit sad and a little bit panicky for a moment, because I realized in that moment that being a Master’s candidate in English Composition and Rhetoric has been the main part of my professional identity for most of the last three years.
So now who am I?
I’ve got a good job that I enjoy, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t quite a bit underemployed (this isn’t a conceit; my job requires only a high-school diploma or GED). Furthermore, as much as I love my job, it’s a temp job, and I just don’t identify with it that strongly. It’s a great job, but it’s not a part of my identity the way that teaching or being a full-time student was.
So despite the fact that I have a lot to celebrate right now, I’m also in mourning a little bit, because I’ve lost a huge piece of my personal identity. I’m really lucky in that all three of my thesis committee members want to continue to work with me to refine my research (and I definitely intend to do that), but that work won’t be done by a Master’s candidate; it’ll be done by a degree-holder with aspirations of doctoral work (I definitely haven’t given up THAT dream!). I’ve never been one of those before, and although I’m sure I’ll love it, it won’t be what I’ve grown accustomed to over the past few years.
Sometimes change is hard, even if it’s good change. So I hope you all will excuse me if I’m not quite as “on top of the world” as a major accomplishment like this deserves. It’s awesome, and I’m seriously proud of myself, but I’m not altogether certain of who I am anymore, and that’s kind of scary.