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You guys, I’m sitting in the garden, in glorious sunshine with a bottle of scrumpy cider… and my dissertation. I’m supposed to be sorting it out and shaving words off but it’s really hard to stop staring at the blue sky and beautiful trees. I have a an excuse, right. I’m 30 today. But it’s not a good excuse really, because I’ve known for three years that I wouldn’t be celebrating this particular birthday. Turning 30 one week before the dissertation is due is really crappy timing. (S’OK, don’t be too upset for me, got a massive party in two weeks.)

I have done some work. Just not as much as I promised myself I would when I was stewing in the library yesterday. I’ve also been baking chocolate bread (need to check on its rising status soon). And watched friends. And wandered around pretending I was busy. And of course now I’m writing this. Pffft.

Yesterday was good. I was bloody knackered by 8pm but I found another source and it adds a new dimension to the research. I’ve been critiquing this one guy, who it turns out was actually writing his book in response to this other guy but didn’t actually reference him. Tut tut. I got lost in this stuff yesterday – ever heard of that flow thing? Well, that.

Which brings me to the P-word. I’ve loved doing this dissertation and I don’t want to stop. As I attempted to understand some of these medieval commentaries I kept thinking – I want to improve my Arabic so I really get this stuff. There’s loads of work to be done and I want to do it. I love it, studying gives me this massive buzz. I was pretty mentally unstable during the first year of my MA and got signed off work twice – each week in class I ended up high, bouncing around, tripping over my words. One time I got so excited about some tiny bit of Arabic grammar that I had to leave the room to calm down!

Anyway, studying is massively stressful, there’s no denying that. Combining it with full time work has nearly broken me a few times. But understanding something someone said a thousand years ago is incredible. It’s as close to euphoria as I’m ever going to get without Aripiprazole. 😉 The question is:

Is it worth it?

I decided about a year ago that I would not do a PhD. It’s too much. I’d still have to work so I’d do it part time and would effectively be doing what I’ve just done – but for double the time. That would be mad, right? Why would I do that to myself? But now there’s an itch. I’ve started something, can I leave it? A lot of the PhD students I know are mildly unbalanced, maybe they have to be to do what they do, and one told me recently that it’s stress, stress, stress and then this unbelievable excitement. There’s this zone you go into when you study something you’re passionate about and although the casual observer may not see this bubbling enthusiasm today as I get distracted by passing clouds, I’m not sure I can give it up now.*

*All the above day-dreamings of spending years immersed in dusty books is dependent on not crashing and burning with this smaller bit of research. Just because I think it’s great doesn’t mean the three people marking it will think the same. 😉