On Thursday, February 21st, 2019 I passed my qualifying exam with distinction! I am all but dissertation (ABD). While I’ve had a number of ‘wins’ in the past, this is the first time in my entire life that I really feel like I’m OWNING and EMBODYING my success. I’m feeling quite a lot of #blackgirlmagic at the moment. I couldn’t anticipate what it would feel like after passing such a major milestone, but I’ve found that I’m experiencing a host of different emotions.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
To start, I’m feeling relieved because it’s finally over. I’ve been formally preparing for this exam for at least four months, and by the end, I really found that I’d prefer to do anything but study. The other side of this relief is that it made me feel more sure that I am a PhD candidate-caliber thinker. I know that a subjective test can’t actually determine my abilities, but that’s how I feel, in part, because I nearly failed my first comprehensive exam. I’ve spent the last three years thinking that the only reason I didn’t fail outright is because the committee didn’t want to fail the one woman of color who actually sat for the exam. This win, with distinction, is the vindication I’ve longed for.
There’s another side of me that is feeling extremely proud. I didn’t just pass, but I passed with distinction. I know that no one will actually ask me about this, and it’s not something I would just offer up, but it’s nice to know. Relatedly, I am extremely humbled to think that, with this degree, I am creating a generational legacy that will have reverberations that go far beyond me. Wow.
Finally, I’m feeling pretty freaking powerful. This might sound arrogant of me, but in some ways, I’m not surprised that I passed. I put on my list of daily affirmations that I would 1) Study diligently in some way everyday; and 2) Pass my qualifying exam with distinction. That’s exactly what happened In some ways, when you are intentional about something, and you work like hell to get it, there really isn’t any surprise-just hard work. This leads me to ask, what else can I accomplish by believing in my own capabilities and working to make it happen? Anthropology award for best dissertation? Tenure-track or some other non-academic dream job upon graduation? Academic Muscle community of students across the country? Across the globe? Maybe I’m on to something here….
Do yourself a favor and dream big. Now, dream even bigger.
So, what’s next for me?
I am officially leaving for fieldwork on Wednesday, March 27. I bought a one-way ticket to Cuba and plan to be there for 9 months to a year. In the meantime, I have to find someone to sublet my apartment, open a foreign bank account, put my things in storage, insert some logistical detail that I’m bound to overlook until the very last minute and, of course, plan a going away party.
If I continue with this thinking that I am powerful beyond measure, there’s a strong chance, that I could do something really, really great with my research. My committee members seem to think that my project has the potential to really push the boundaries of anthropology and education. Who am I to think otherwise? There are adventures and chance meetings that I can’t even begin to anticipate. So, cheers to new adventures and holding on to this feeling!