When I think about finishing, my first thought is always “I didn’t do it by myself.” Oh, I did all the writing and reading, but there’s more to it than that. More than once I was burnt out, and thought about just quitting rather than writing another page. I’d come too far to walk away, but the thought was pretty tempting. I looked to other people for support, and got it in spades. I don’t know if I could have done it without them, and I want to throw out some thanks.
First, to the philosophy faculty at UW. They gave me enough room to do what I wanted, rather than having a strictly regimented program, but it worked because I knew that if I needed help with something, they were there for me. My advisor would leave me be for months at a time, but when I came to his office to talk about how the grind was getting to me, he wasted no time in helping me work out a writing schedule and getting me back on track. I love the collegiality, best found at the daily lunches where the department just chats, or works through ideas. It’s a side of academia that not everyone sees, and one that I wish we got to show off more. They taught me all this stuff in my undergrad, and it was really exciting to work with them and use it in graduate school.
I also owe a lot to the other students, especially Jessey, one of my officemates. We talked through a lot of things, worked on texts together, and also spent a fair amount of time designing games and goofing off. A lot of my best ideas this year became better after I went over them with him. He’s off to the University of Western Ontario for his phd now, where I imagine he’ll succeed admirably. His passion for philosophy is matched only by his critical mind. He certainly wasn’t the only student to help me out, though. the other Jim (he actually has seniority, so technically I’m the other Jim, but it’s my website so nyah) was the president of our graduate association and was always eager to lend an ear and an insightful comment. Rachel taught me the kinds of things that can be accomplished with a disciplined writing schedule, and how to implement one. The list goes on.
I also got by with a little help from my friends. Okay, more than a little. From helping me unwind with some late night karaoke and making sure I didn’t spend all my time in the office to picking up some of the slack on Headshots when my writing schedule came down to the wire, they were there for me. I’m lucky enough to have friends who are kind, understanding, supportive, and numerous, and who understood when I would drop off the radar for months at a time, vanishing into my office to hopefully emerge with another draft finished.
Finally, I have to thank the my internet people. All the people I chatted with on twitter in the wee hours in the morning, and the people I saw struggling under similar burdens. The ones who commented on my random thoughts or sent me links to articles that I could use. Thanks. One of the great things about social media is that it reminds us that there’s always someone else out there who gets it, who understands what we’re going through and can talk us through it. I owe those people a lot.
The list of names goes on and on, but if I tried to write it out, I’d be sure to forget someone. But you know who you are. You’re the people I’ve met, the people I’ve spoken with, and the people I’ve leaned on. You’re the people that taught me something meaningful, and I promise I’ll try to take that lesson and use it. Thank you.