I went to a friend's dissertation defense this afternoon, the first since I've become a doctoral student. She was nervous at first, partly because the LCD projector failed to sync with her laptop (called IT - they fixed the problem) and partly because... well, it was her dissertation defense. You're supposed to be nervous at a dissertation defense. I think it's a rule written down somewhere.
After the insanity of the technology and once her committee was sitting around the table, she totally transformed into this eloquent, lovely intellectual. She spoke of her research with passion, with conviction, and it was truly a thing of beauty to listen to her document the years of hard work put into her data collection, analysis, and writing. Even when her committee began questioning her, she continued to be graceful, injecting humor where appropriate and carefully weighing the opinions being given to her.
It was inspiring, albeit a little terrifying, as I consider the very real possibility of defending my own work in the coming year. While her defense looked ever-so-elegant, I know the hours she spent in the library translating, transcribing, and making diagrams. Ph.Ds aren't for everyone but they are doable.
I just have to keep telling myself that: they are doable.