Sorry this is a long post, if you actually get through it, you are a total superstar!!! and I thank you
Monday the 28th of September 2009, was THE most important day of my ENTIRE life. The day of my Viva PhD
(a viva is an oral examination where you defend your thesis and you have 2 examiners who are experts in your field).
A little background:
I've been working on my PhD for the past 9 years. It has been a real battle and struggle, a huge mountain to climb. A dark cloud constantly over my head. I had to put so many things in my life on HOLD. Alot of sacrifices, everything was " i will do X Y Z after my PhD". It was always on my mind no matter where or what I was doing.
After my first year, i proved that the original project was wrong, so in my 2nd year, i had to start from scratch on another project. That project was to develop a new technology, which was much harder than we all anticipated. That was a huge struggle which took a total of 6 years! Constantly failing and starting again and again
Then in 2005, I thought of a new project with the help of a visiting professor at the time, I approached my supervisor that I really wanted to do this alongside my other project. With alot of hard work and determination, it proved successful. I then published my first paper in 2007. And then I published another paper in 2008.
2007 - I had to take on a full time job and work on my PhD at the same time, luckily it was in the same lab though.
Last year (2008) I officially left the lab and finished all my experiments.
I was working on my thesis, slow and steady. But during the summer of 2008 - I recieved a letter from the university- that I HAD to submit by the end of october - or i would FAIL.
>>If i did not hand it in by the deadline, it would be an automatic FAIL!
So last summer, my supervisor had NO faith in me that i would be able to do it and left me drowning to fend for myself. I was completely distraught and doubted whether I would do it. I hit rock bottom, and was even having suicidal thoughts. I know I would never have actually done it, but I just wanted the misery to end and to just run away from it all, I wanted nothingness.
But by alot of help and support of my parents, brother, family and friends, they pulled me up, and told me, I can do it, and to just do it!! To do the best of my ability, and it didnt matter whether i passed or failed, as long as i knew in my heart that I did the best i could.
So everyday I worked hard on my thesis and kept on working and everyday fought with my mental demons telling me I can't do it.
I handed in my thesis by the deadline - but my supervisor was still not satisfied or had faith in me that I would actually pass my PhD. He told me, I would have a BRUTAL viva. He basically made me feel that I was not going to be able to pass my PhD.
Again I fell, but managed to pick myself up through the support of my family and friends.
So in 2009 I was studying for my Viva and waiting for the day, that I would be told when it was. (I was told about 5 weeks before the actual viva).
So all of 2009 - I still did not feel confident, but I kept reading these quotes that I had stuck on my wall last year; which I really want to share with you.
And started studying hard for my Viva,
I wanted to make sure I knew my thesis inside out, to be able to defend it, and to know as much of the literature of other research as possible. But I still doubted myself and kept thinking I would fail. But then thought, let me just try and whatever happens happens.
The words of my supervisors kept haunting me, that I didn't know any background knowledge. So I hit those papers/books hard. Each day was stressful, studying and making sacrifices and not living my life, but just studying. It was my jail sentence, and I had to do the time.
Burn the boats
When ancient Greek armies travelled across the sea to do battle, the first thing they would do after landing was to burn the boats, leaving them stranded, with no way to make it home besides the victory, the resolve of the soldiers were strengthened.
When SUCCESS and FAILURE are the only options, you have no choice but to follow through
One day plus another has an ACCUMULATIVE effect (Andrew Matthews)
You'll be amazed at how much work is possible to accomplish in a month, if its the LAST month.
'When a man knows he is to be hanged in a week, it concentrates his mind wonderfully' (Joan Bolker)
Wherever you are, it is the place to start. The effort to expend today DOES make a difference (Andrew Matthews)
A tree as big around as you can reach starts with a small seed;
a thousand-mile journey starts with one small step.
Then in August 2009, I came across 3 fat chicks, and my life was changed FOREVER. I found this amazing support system, and the most wonderful people all in one place. I joined and started reading people's goals, and their fight with weight loss, and I found it all so inspiring!! People who had achieved their weight goals, people who were just starting out and working hard each day, people who had come so far and changed their lives and continued to do so. It was all very inspiring. I thought to myself these people are completely changing their lives and bodies and are not giving up.
Everyday is more important than how much time you spend, or how many pages you produce or the quality
I had always struggled with my weight, always been abit on the heavy side. And I thought, I don't want to just be studying, I want to get my body into shape aswell.
So then through this wonderful site, I learned about The show "The biggest loser" and I watched a season of it, and I was INSPIRED!!
I couldn't get enough of it. I watched these overweight people fighting for their lives, pushing through the pain, and doing everything they could to lose weight and save their lives.
I could relate to these people, because I felt that my PhD was my life, and it was life and death for me.
I then started to listen to Jillian Michaels podcast (which I learned about from this forum), and she was sooooooooooooo inspirational, I cannot even begin to tell you. She completely changed my mindset !!! I went from a weak little mouse, to a tiger - someone that felt stronger, both mentally and physically. I admire her so much, and she is such a role model for me.
The most pivotal moment, was from season 6 from the biggest loser, when Jillian was telling Colleen, what are you afraid of?
And Colleen said, of failure, and how she just didnt let herself try, because she was so afraid of failure.
I was in tears, because I felt the EXACT same way, with regards to my PhD. I kept telling everyone, I think I'm going to fail.
But listening to Jillian Michaels Podcast really helped me. Especially one podcast- where she spoke about how when you take control of your body, you will feel stronger, and how losing weight has an EFFECT on other aspects of your life.
And that is so true!!!
I started working out harder, I started watching my calorie intake, and I began to lose weight, but more importantly I felt more confident!
I really would love to write to Jillian Michaels to tell her how she really had a huge IMPACT on my life. Does anyone know how to do that?
I even listened to her podcast whilst I was waiting for my Viva!! and her voice was so comforting, and during my Viva, I felt I was chanelling her!! lol. I felt confident. And I actually really enjoyed my Viva!!!
After my Viva, the examiners called me into the room and told me
"We're happy to tell you, you have passed your PhD. Congratulations Dr Echo (obviously said my real surname here hehe).
It was the HAPPIEST moment of my entire life!!!!!
The feeling I had is comparable to those contestants that win the biggest loser.
My PhD was my Mount Everest and on Monday, I conquered it!!!!
My soundtrack for the past month were the following songs from the biggest loser. And everytime I went for a run, I would feel more confident. That if I can run for 1 minute, then I can do anything. And the day before my Viva, I wanted to record how long it would take to run 1 mile (challenge suggested by bigsexy for our blue team). And I have never been able to run for very long, and I did it in 11 minutes and 38 seconds, I felt like I was going to die, lol but I did it (but did take quite a few walking breaks).
I realised we all have the power within ourselves, just waiting for you to tap it. ANYTHING is possible, if you believe its worth it.
The most life altering moment, for me was a few weeks ago - I was riding my bike and listening to the Jillian Michaels podcast, and a caller rang in and said, she's not sure if its worth it (losing weight)
And Jillian Michaels said, "if I told you, that if you run for 1 hour on this threadmill and tommorow morning you will wake up 100 lb lighter, would you do it?
The caller said "yes"
Jillian Michaels then said, "then its worth it"
"Two things are needed to accomplish something, you thinking its worth it, and you believing in yourself that you can do it"
"Everytime you do exercise, you will one day wake up 100lbs lighter".
I took that and adapted it, and said to myself, just study that paper, or read through this chapter of your thesis, because if it meant I would pass my PhD if i just read that one paper, I would do it.
Thank you for reading my story. It really means alot to me, to be able to share this with all you wonderful and inspiring people. And if you read all of it, then you are a total superstar! And I cannot thank you enough!!
If you just believe
You can move mountains with dreams
The higher you climb
The better it gets
Cuz you will see things
You’ll never forget
If you just believe
It’s like I’m falling through my own fears
They used to haunt me, but now they’re not here
There’s no looking back, my future is clear
No giving up
And I’m holding on when it gets rough
Cuz you can get through most anything
No one says it’s easy
And no one says you have to be perfect
But as long as you try
You’re always gonna find
It was worth it
Suzie Mc Neil: Believe
Everytime I was scared to revise or panicked that I wouldn't be able to pass my PhD, I kept remembering Jillians famous quote
FEEL THE FEAR- DO IT ANYWAY!!!!!!!!
I even wrote it on a post-it and stuck it above my computer!