Between December and August, my life centered on completing and defending my dissertation. Every waking moment that I wasn’t at work seemed to revolve around my dissertation. Every molecule of my being was devoted to this project, so after my successful defense on August 3rd, I figured that I could finally take a deep breath, catch up on my sleep, and catch up on all of the things that I put on hold. However, during the past two months, I’ve felt a little lost. While I’m working on a few projects that I’m excited about, I’m not on a tight deadline, so the adrenaline is not pumping quite so hard. I don’t have to stay up until 3 a.m. writing or revising. I’m not spending hours reviewing results from the study. I’m not laboring over PowerPoint slides while trying to balance the amount of text and visuals. I actually have some time on my hands and that’s something that I’m definitely not used to having.
During a routine wellness check-up last week, my family doctor congratulated me on the accomplishment and I confessed that it didn’t seem real that the journey was over. He assured me that after all I put myself through, it would take time to return to normal, or at least a new normal. I realized that I’m not limited in the definition of my new normal, but can explore all of the possibilities and opportunities that are now available. Establishing a new normal can be exciting!