According to my calendar, this past Saturday marked the 7th anniversary of the day that I successfully defended my PhD in Statistics. I can still remember the nervous excitement that filled me in the days and hours that led up to my big day; running and rerunning the presentation in my head, perfecting answers to mock defence questions that Dr. Steph had curated for me after spending the previous years joined at the hip navigating the trials and tribulations of a PhD.
When I stop and think about my life 7 years ago and about my life now, I find myself wondering how it all happened, how I managed to get to this point in my life. I mean, I know how events fell into place to get me from there to here, but as the temporal gap between then and now grows so too does the gap between the person I assumed I’d be and the person I am. That’s not to say I’m a completely different version of what I assumed, but I still shake my head in disbelief how a series of random adventures and an almost religious inability to say no had such an effect on my day-to-day life.
Yes, I assumed I’d be a professor and I hoped I would somehow work travel into my job, but I never assumed I’d be living this adventure from an office in the School of Computer Science. I also assumed that social causes would be the fodder for extracurricular activity. There was no sense that my work would be anything but statistical. I also would never have guessed that I’d be able to do some of the things I’ve been so fortunate to do. Would Malawi or China have been on my radar for travel? Probably, but I never would have expected to have had the opportunities I’ve been afforded so early after my PhD was complete. Would I have guessed that I’d be part of a project featured on CBC Spark, or would spend a week curating @RealScientists, or get to take part in any number of the things that remind me that my life is weird? Definitely not.
And yet here I am 7 years later, looking back on a weird and wonderful adventure. I spend every day getting paid to do a job that I love. I have been presented with a seemingly endless supply of opportunities to wander around the world. I get to work with and learn from some of the greatest minds. And more than that, I am spoiled by the fact that I am surrounded by inspiration in the form of students that I’m fortunate enough to work with. I get to see so many of them transition from nervous and unsure of themselves to leaders and change makers, and it is a beautiful and amazing privilege.
There’s a phrase that suggests that in any relationship the 7-year anniversary is often the time at which things start to go south; when one or more members of a relationship become disengaged, fall out of love, or simply decide it’s time to move on. For me, the only 7-year itch I have is for more travel, but that’s the same itch I’ve always had. Instead, as I sit here and think about the last 7 years and all that I’ve experienced, I can honestly say that I’m excited to see what happens next.