Is there life after the Ph.D.?
In the last ten months, I started a long process of getting used to the idea that my Ph.D. work is over. I am (finally) done and I can do nothing more – except to start another Ph.D. on a different topic, maybe. There is no sadness, no regrets, not even the feeling of fighting an addiction; but there is one question repeated over and over again: “Now, that your Ph.D. is done, what will you do next?”
The first step, and easiest to write about, is to create a normal life! Does this mean that until now my life wasn’t normal? For almost four years my Ph.D. discretely followed me in my very busy professional life, through various relocations from one continent to another and through personal challenges. The same Ph.D. took full advantage of my sleep disorder and filled my late evening hours with words and books. For the sake of the Ph.D., I worked extra to get more money to pay for my books on Amazon.com and for my expenses to participate in various international conferences. Honestly, the academic activity was maybe the only “normal” part of my life. When entrenched in the busy and crazy daily world, I stole some quiet time for doing serious writing and research. I deeply cherished these moments.
For two months after my defense, I didn’t want to hear at all about my thesis. I had had enough. For weeks, I intensively focused on literature and travel writing. Then suddenly, in the middle of the summer, I decided to edit the manuscript of my thesis and prepare for the moment I would hand it to an editorial house for publishing a book from it. Or maybe it will make two books and a couple of articles, I am still considering the various options. Through the editing process, I got closer again to my topics, reconsidered some interpretations and bibliographic references, and in some respects, I reconnected sentimentally with my thesis.
In this way, I was able to understand my academic past while trying to think differently about my academic future, by trying to further explore new academic areas. I promised myself that I would further develop many of the aspects addressed in my thesis and continue to keep a careful eye on the issues related to my area of study: intellectuals and politics and issues of ethnic minorities in Central and Eastern Europe.
The most important thing is that I discovered how I can keep myself awake and interested in an academic career, more than ever before. At the end of the day, the post-Ph.D. life may spark an interesting episode in my professional life.
Ana Dinescu is a regular contributor to University of Venus and a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.