Premature nostalgia at my last conference as a postgrad.

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It is 2341hrs.

In theory, I am meant to be taking a shower, writing my talk for tomorrow, and finishing up an overdue paper.

In practice, I am laying on the bed, listening to Coldplay, and spewing words on this page in a premature nostalgia over the impending end of my postgrad life.

Tomorrow, I will be giving my last academic talk for the year.

I also just realized it is probably going to be the last presentation I give as a postgrad ever… provided my examiners don’t fail me. (If you are one of my examiners and happen to be reading this, please don’t fail me thanks)

Two weeks ago at the Digital Intimate Publics Symposium in Brisbane, I presented in the same panel as one of my supervisors for the first time (milestone in life pls).

Later, I introduced him to a colleague as my “supervisor”, to which he promptly interrupted, “former supervisor”.

It was polite, meant to affirm me, and quite sweet to be honest, but I wasn’t aware that I had to start weening and be disowned publicly (!!! j/k i love you rob).

It was also then that I realized I hadn’t yet learnt how to transit out of PhD life.

(see also Jonathan Hutchinson’s super honest thoughts on the post-PhD void).

I have decided that I want to be an academic, post-PhD.

But.

There are things I won’t miss about postgrad life: Navigating the PhD and depression, feeling perpetually under-valued, stretching very tight monthly budgets, gawking at pseudo-intellectual posturing, casually calling out bullshit when academics don’t practice what they preach.

Reverse but.

There are things I will miss about postgrad life: Inheriting honest advice from intellectual giants, having heart-to-heart talks with mentors, spotting academic angels in awkward situations, experiencing kindness in academia.

Juggling both the CSAA and AAS conferences this week, I want to remember the everyday/banal/mundane things I will miss about conferencing as a postgrad:

1) I feel like I have more license to brainfart, play with half-confident ideas, and publicly fumble through thoughts as a way of understanding my own politic and accumulating experience. But I suppose I should be able to continue doing so as long as my work/presentation places are safe spaces.

2) People recognize that you’re at the bottom of the food/networking chain, and generously introduce you to others with whom you can swap brainfoods. I am always endeared by this and want to keep this mentoring/resource sharing chain going. Also because #totesnotacreepyfangirl.

3) Some post-PhD folk will volunteer stories of horror, hardship, and hell from when they did their PhDs. The solidarity is very real, the empathy genuine, and the advice practical. This is extra precious when coming from the so-called “successful” peoples in academia. Failure stories are more encouraging, empowering, and empathizing than simply telling us to hang in there/try harder/try something else.  I’m pretty sure we can find your highlight reel somewhere on the Internet. But hearing about failure and how you’ve overcome it reminds postgrads that we all start from the bottom (and places self-inflicted firstworldproblem thestruggleisreal problems in a bigger picture).

4) Academics-with-actual-jobs seem to always magically appear with jugs of drinks and gravitate towards us. Plus they always fight over covering the karaoke bill. When/if we protest, these good people tell us to “pay it forward” next time… like when we have jobs and things. It is also quite adorable when the sometimes semi-tipsy academics-with-actual-jobs buy us drinks because “you’re a postgrad. you’re poor. i have tenure. drinks on me.”

5) Postgrad camaraderie. Oh this. If I could be a professional postgrad for life, I would, just for this… Wait. Are postdocs professional postgrads? Prolonged postgrads? Anyway. Postgrad camaraderie is so much gold. There always seems to be a magically universal vocabulary of self-inflicted suffering and hyper-celebratory milestones. (pls see Exhibit A). But of course I am speaking from a place of choosing collaboration over competition in my practice. More on that another time.

Okay abrupt end to premature nostalgia here.

Premature because I haven’t even prepared my slides for tomorrow.

I am a very professional postgrad. And I am very full from dinner.

Bye.

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