Looking back...March 2017

I want to start a new series on this blog, a monthly recap where I look back at everything that happened during the month and things I've learned. This is looking back at March...

March...the month of exams

March went by in a blink. Really, where it go? And how are we now a quarter of the way through 2017? I thought 2016 went by in a blur but so far 2017 is going just as fast.

March started with me anxiously waiting for the results of my Portfolio Review before finally getting the news that I passed! Yay!!!! I celebrated by treating myself to a new sparkly pen from Swarovski. The portfolio process was pretty daunting. If you don't pass you are removed from the graduate program. Game over. Pretty terrifying. So even though I'd worked on those papers, especially the second one, and even though my committee, particularly my Chair, was positive about the papers, I was still a nervous wreck. But getting the official letter that I'd passed and seeing the formal comments from my committee was incredible. It meant so much to see in black and white what my committee thought of my work.

Maybe it's silly, but I'm in love with this pen!

After the portfolio review it was on to the Comprehensive Exam. I had about 5 books left on my reading list at the time I got my portfolio results, so I quickly sped through those last books and scheduled the exam for about a week and a half later. The comp exam, or comps, is less terrifying than the portfolio because if all goes terribly wrong, you can retake the comp exam. But who wants to do that? So I studied and studied and studied. I created mind maps and visual tools, I reviewed the journal I kept throughout the reading process, I quizzed myself on the bibliography, and I revised for that exam until my head felt like it was going to explode. I didn't start to feel nervous until about 3 days before the exam, and then I was a nervous wreck. I had at least one panic attack every day and was constantly fighting tears. I thought I'd been nervous about the portfolio but omg, the comp exam was on another level. Even though I knew I could retake it, I was so concerned about doing well and passing so that I could stay on schedule that I put soooooooo much pressure on myself. As a result, my stomach was a mess, I had constant headaches from crying so much, and I wasn't sleeping properly. I tried distracting myself with Netflix and Hulu, I tried meditating, I tried so many things, none of them really worked. 

My brain was ready to explode by exam day.

Thankfully on the day of the exam I felt ok. I think I went into crisis mode and just got really focused. However, after the exam I realized I'd misread a question and I started panicking thinking I was going to fail. After a day or so I calmed down a bit and started hoping for a "low pass", it was still passing and that's all I cared about. I even bumped into my Chair the day after the exam and told her what happened and was comforted by the fact that she didn't look like I'd committed the worst sin ever. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long and 1 week and 33 minutes after I sat down and started the exam I got my results. I didn't get a "low pass"....I got a "pass"! I was overjoyed! Even with the "mistake" my work was still good and I'd more than satisfactorily passed my exam. 

I can honestly say the comp exam was the most overwhelming experience, one that I'm still processing. It was exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The pressure I'd put on myself with the portfolio was self-induced, my Chair wouldn't have let me submit if she didn't think they were ready, which is why she didn't let me submit them back in December. But with the comp exam, even though my Chair seemed to think I was ready, she'd never quizzed me or tested me informally. We'd never talked about my sources. I felt like maybe I wasn't ready after all. I was going to tested on my knowledge of approximately 60 sources. Would I be able to remember what I needed to remember and answer the questions in enough detail? Apparently I did.

After comps it was time to get cracking on finalizing a draft of my dissertation prospectus. I already had a very rough and messy draft started that had the shell of the different sections, most of an introduction, and part of a review of literature. But in the few days after getting my comps results I managed to pull together a decent full draft and send it off to my Chair. It's far from perfect, although that's what I thought about my comp exam and that turned out better than I thought, so we'll see what my Chair thinks lol. I'm expecting to do a few rounds of revisions but I'm hoping to get my colloquy scheduled for later in April. March was the month of exams, I'm hoping April will be the month I finally make ABD.

Other than all my exams there really wasn't much. I got my hair done, had a nice facial, I slept when I could, took a family road trip to Mt. Lemmon, and binge watched all of DCI Banks on Hulu. Oh. And I saw Beauty and the Beast and it was epic and amazing and I'm dying to see it again. But yeah, March was mostly about my PhD exams and anything else that I did was for the sole purpose of distracting myself from the exams/waiting for exam results. I'm hoping April will be a little more chill lol. It probably won't be, but one can still hope.

One thing I will be featuring in this series is my 1 Second Everyday mash clip for each month. If you haven't heard of it, 1 Second Everyday is a great app where you import a 1 second clip for each day into the app. You can then select how many clips to mash together, a week, a month, a year, a vacation you took. It's pretty cool and it's fun to see each second as they flick by. You'd be amazed at how much you can remember based on that one second. So here is March. I hope you like it. Tell me in the comments what your highlight from last month was? Or some challenge that you conquered?



  1. My biggest highlight of March was that I turned 26 and that brought in a lot of new feelings for me.

    You should be so proud of everything you have accomplished this month and overall. You really are amazing and so inspiring. I wish I could do half of what you do. To me you remind me a little of Wonder Woman with everything you have to work on and do.

    1. Aww thank you so much. And a belated happy birthday! You're doing great things too, and should be proud of yourself as well. When I think back to when I was 26 I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I had finished my first MA, couldn't get a job because the economy had just imploded, and was living with my parents again. You might not feel like it now but you're Wonder Woman too. And ten years from now, when you're 36 (like I am now), you'll probably be inspiring some young 26 year old who thinks that you're doing amazing things. :) xx

    2. That would be awesome if I could inspire someone like you have inspired me. Like I have said before it is nice to see another woman out there in academia who has some of the same struggles that I do. It is so nice to know I am not alone.

      I am still working on trying to get my blog up an running. I have like three blog post ideas I just can't come up with a name for my blog. How silly I know.

    3. The name is the hardest part. If you ever want to run ideas by someone just message me on instagram. :)

  2. As a fellow stationary addict, that pen is worth being excited over!

    I, too, am having a hard time believing that we are already 1/4 of the way through the year 2016...I mean, what?! Alas, don't they say 'time flies when you're having fun'? We can pretend all the stress you went through was 'fun' in disguise ;)

    1. Belinda, you get me, you really do. Lol. I'm still so in love with that pen every time I look at it. And um, yeah, fun. Totally. ;)


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