Sunday, June 24, 2012

Becoming a doctor & the price paid for finishing early


I just defended my Ph.D dissertation last Friday, 22nd of June 2012 and the panel passed me.  It's a bittersweet victory, however. There are a lot of things going through my mind and half of it makes me smile, the other half makes me worry.  First, the things that make me smile:

This poster at the UP Film Institute caught my eye while I was waiting for my adviser.  The funny thing was that my critic/reader had just granted me the go-signal to distribute copies of my dissertation to my panel.  In my head, I was already singing:

Unti-unting mararating
Kalangitan at bituin
Unti-unting kinabukasan ko'y magniningning
Hawak ngayo'y tibay ng damdamin
Bukas naman sa 'king paggising
Kapiling ko'y pangarap na bituin

Ok, I was too young to have seen the movie but I do remember the theme song that Sharon Cuneta sang, which was about triumph.  Considering that I finished my course work in two years, took a break for one semester, and then finished the manuscript 6 months after defending the proposal, which I defended 5 months after passing the comprehensive exam...that is pretty fast.  Especially since I come from a university that has been known to cause delays for graduate students. (I had been warned by naysayers, and I said, "Challenge accepted!")  So there's a feeling of pride somewhere in there, that I could actually do this. That despite not being the smartest in class, I had incredible sense of determination (and totally supportive friends) to pull me through.

It came with a price, though.  
That's the thing that makes me worry. I've actually been running on adrenaline and I don't know how much more I can hold on to before my body fully recognizes that it is exhausted. Couple this with the fact that a psychiatrist said that I have ADHD...well, the disorder went on overdrive this past year as I tried to juggle work and school.

Before I left my previous employment and while I was doing the exit interview, the president called me crazy for not going full-time as a Ph.D student. And he was right. Boy, was he so right! No sane person would go into a full-time job (and in game production, to boot!!) while taking that much load as a graduate student.

The result? Weekly visits to the hospital because of:
  • Internal Medicine (acid and digestion problems)
  • Orthopedic (knee injury, fell off escalator due to inattentiveness)
  • Dentist (weakened gums resulting in root canal, not covered by Maxicare)
  • Dermatologist (ironically, it was the oft-dismissed "beauty doctor" who told me that I was so stressed that my body's resistance has dropped, making me susceptible to all kinds of bacterial and viral attacks, but the resulting damage is not covered by Maxicare)
Plus the other important things?
  • Death of love lives
  • Nearly dead social life
  • Missing family gatherings and activities
But you know what? Another funny thing is that I don't think it's my studies that have led me to this. I was more stressed as a student when I was still doing my course work because I had to run to UP three times a week after office hours back then. And during the summer of 2010, I had to take ENG 295 everyday, running back to the office at the end of every session.  Now, it's doubly harder, because I had to get into grueling production work in the name of auto-ethnography. (I've come to realize that it is the production work that's killing me, even though I've already dropped all other game dev organizational activities.)

I clearly abused my body and have pushed it to the point of being trapped in this unhealthy routine until I graduate. My mom had been right when she scolded me: I should not have gotten a full-time game industry job while still finishing my Ph.D.

My solution? Eat right, sleep well, and drink lots of water as I try to meet the end of July self-imposed deadline for the revisions. Jennent!

And uh, yeah, those are copies of my dissertation that each panelist has commented on.  The revisions are supposedly minor, but considering that my manuscript is 343 pages long and there are 6 copies of them to go through...whew! Looks like I'll be spending my Saturdays in the UP-CMC library and Sundays writing again.

Wish me luck!  After this, I will do my best to go back to my regular activities...such as blogging.

And to all the aspiring graduate students out there:
PLEASE DO NOT DO WHAT I DID. There's a reason why working students take time before graduating, and that's because your body can only take so much damage. Please listen to it. What use is a doctorate/master's degree if you will only enjoy it for a short time? =P



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9 comments :

  1. *u* thank you for the advice miss bea -Love alots- Zerah XD

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  2. Miss you, Zerah! If you're going to study, please make it your number 1 priority and find a job with a lighter load.

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  3. Wow. Take care of your health please. I'll talk to Niel to give you some time off...  :P

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  4. Hello!! No need, since I am almost done anyway. Both Niel and Nicole know that things can get really stressful and right now, we can't really afford time off. But am almost done. :D Thanks!! :D

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  5. btw. I'm somewhere in Ayala at the moment doing 2D Assets for a mobile app company hihi. See you around Miss Bea :D

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  6. Naku... no amount of money can bring back your health so please take it easy.

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  7. Waaaah! I'm just looking forward to August, yung maluwag-luwag na! Miss you guys na.

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  8. So true. I had to leave my job for seven months to concentrate on my thesis so that I could finally defend it! I told myself that if I continued to put it off I'm going to have to repeat the program. Yikes! That was a good motivator for me, haha.

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  9. Wow. I didn't know you had to quit your job. Truth be told, I really wish I had gone full-time as a student, at least till I'm done with the dissertation. But it also makes me think...being in Anino gave me my idea for a dissertation topic. *Sigh*

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