I was reflecting on the past five years of my life. The past five years that I have poured myself fully into pursuing my doctorate. The past five years where I have experienced some of the lowest lows:
- Friendships Ended
- Loss of Loved Ones
- Sexual Assault
- More debt
- Disordered Eating
- Bouts with Self-Harm
The past five years where I have experienced the highest of highs:
- Moving cross-country
- Making a life for myself
- Buying a car
- Traveling Internationally
- Teaching Internationally
- Taking part in meaningful research
- Making wonderfully rich friendships
- Discovering myself and my own strength
The past five years have been full. I could not see this day, then. I could not conjure the feeling of surviving the lowest lows and soaring through the highest highs. I did not see myself here because my mind just does not work that way. I did, however, know that I would make it. Even on the days where I did not know how I would make it. I knew that a way would be made, sometimes out of no way. I knew that because this step, this process, this half decade roller-coaster was meant for me. I have unwavering faith that I am supposed to be here. And when I tried to share the credit with others, Heather–the executive assistant for my academic department and truly the most remarkable soul–reminded me that I took those steps. Yes, I absolutely had a tremendous amount of help and love and support throughout this entire process however my actions also deserve recognition.
It is not just “done” but I did it. When I allow myself to sit with that emotion I become emotionally overwhelmed. I wanted to give up so many times and all I knew was that There was something meant for me in each difficult experience. That I would be made stronger, that I would have more of a testimony, that I was not going to be a victim of my circumstances. God saw fit for me to make it, so I was never not going to make it.
I am left with the feeling that I can truly accomplish anything and also the knowing that not everything is meant for me to accomplish. I am trying now to create pockets of silence in my life. Spaces where I can hear God speak to me and guide me towards what is right and what is ordained. I remember the days where I was crying uncontrollably unable to get out of bed wondering how I was going to make it through the day yet alone design, conduct, and publish original research. I did not know how I was going to live…but I did. The answer to all my improbable “hows” are always By the Grace of God. That answer will always and forever be sufficient. In this moment, I have finished my dissertation, I can officially sign my name Jessica J. Williams, PhD. I can answer to the name “Doctor” without feeling it will jinx my process. It is done and I did it. And for today I do not want to wonder what is next or what is yet to come. I just want to sit in the moment and feel the sense of accomplishment all throughout my body. I want my toes, liver and veins to feel like a doctor. I want every cell and fiber of my being to sit in revel. And yes, I also want to allow myself to feel the warmth of pride. Be in this moment. It is sacred and it is precious and you have earned the right to be here. It is done. You did it.