This week, the long-awaited examiner’s reports arrived for my PhD. I’m happy to say that I passed and am due to graduate in May next year.

“I would like to commend Ms Appleyard for preparing a concise, well-structured and thoughtful dissertation…the work is certainly of sufficient range and depth to meet the requirements of the doctoral degree…”

You would think that this news would have had me jumping from the passenger seat of the car excitedly – but as I read, I had two equally neurotic reactions instead.

First, I cried irrationally with exhaustion and relief. This PhD stretched over four years of my life and there were times when I thought I might just pack it in to go and sell pineapples by a beach somewhere. That’s the thing about nearing the peak of any goal, the fear of the fall is far greater. Because the falls are much further and the injuries, so much harder to recover from. I had nightmares in which my examiners came back requesting a full re-write and asking me how the hell I made it into a PhD in the first place – a question I frequently wrestled with myself.

After the initial emotional pressure-valve release, came an unrelated thought….

Since when did I become Ms Appleyard?

As I read through the documents, the name kept reaching out and stabbing me. I commend Ms Appleyard….Ms Appleyard could you clarify this for me? Ms Appleyard have you considered this alternative?

All I could think was…

When did I tick over from Miss Appleyard, to Ms Appleyard? Is there an age cut-off when an unmarried woman automatically becomes a Ms? It sounded so hostile!

Ms Appleyard welcome to 30. Miss is for she who is unmarried and fresh. You my dear, are a little worn around the edges – but well done on that doctorate Peach!!

It appears I may have a sensitive spot around the whole no-longer-a-20-something-girl thing after all. So please keep this in mind when I am having my empowered rants about how great it is to be getting older. Insecurity often hides itself away, only to be unearthed by two seemingly insignificant letters.

I brought it up with my boyfriend…

K: “I’m writing a blog post about when you go from Miss to Ms and how it makes me feel like an old battle-axe who sleeps with her textbooks and has a cat sanctuary.”

B: “You’re allergic to cats. And what do you care anyway? In a few short months you’ll be Dr Appleyard. You may not be a Miss or a Mrs, but you’ll never be a Ms ever again.”

K: “You’re talking dirty to me right now…seriously…keep going.”

Much love xx

Image shot by Tommy Ton

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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