Tonight I went to see my best friend receive her doctorate.
It’s been a rather strange experience having a best friend who is also pursuing a PhD. Coming from completely different fields – she’s in molecular biotechnology, and I’m in… oh, I don’t even know, a bastard mix of internet studies, geography, and sociology – it was difficult, however unproductive it was of me, to not compare myself to her.
In short, she’s bloody brilliant at what she does, and found her niche really early on. It’s taken me much longer to find mine, and at times I felt like I was just not a very good researcher. In my completely messed up over-anxious way, I interpreted Carla’s successes as a researcher as failures on my part to be dedicated enough, or intelligent enough, or whatever.
Fairly egocentric of me, I know.
However, it was an honour to see her accept her degree this evening. It was difficult to pull myself away from my work, because it’s in that stage where I need to keep going, especially if I’m on to a good thing, and I may have even grumbled somewhat about having to do so, but I’m really glad I went. It was an honour to be invited to attend, and it was very inspiring to see the culmination of many years of dedication.
We’ve been friends since we sat together in 11th grade Political & Legal Studies, and have been through the entire undergrad and postgrad experience together. When we were both doing Honours, we’d spend many a night awake until the very early hours of the morning, drinking cans of Red Bull and working in almost complete silence until one of us needed to bounce an idea off the other. Even though we come from such disparate fields, we’ve always been able to talk about our work with the knowledge that the other has a fair idea what’s going on.
Together we write the currently-very-quiet hiphop blog The Urban Renegade Experiment, and over the years we’ve had various plans about projects that we’d like to pursue, when there is time. We used to theorise that being more than 5km apart made us both a bit useless – she, the scientist, being the left brain and I, the sociologist, being the right. She now lives 2,706km (1,682 miles) away, two-thirds of the way across the country from where I am (and, incidentally, in the nearest capital city to Perth. Can you say isolated as all hell?). The brains are working okay, but it’s still a pretty shitty situation. Well, not for her – she’s got a sweet postdoc position.
It was really great to go tonight, because sometimes the distance makes it feel like we’re losing touch. I’ve been to visit her in Adelaide a few times (and once in Sweden when she studied there for six months!) but with my study load ramping up over the past six months, and Carla finding her feet in Adelaide and with a new relationship, our Skype chats have become less frequent and the tyranny of distance has been kicking my arse. We didn’t get to chat much tonight, but that connection is still there.
And above all, really, I’m just so proud.
beers years ago in stockholm. i was sunburnt from london. sunburnt from london!