I have always found conclusions to be especially difficult things to write. I know rather a lot of people who find introductions the hardest, but those are easy. Starting is always easy, ending is never that.
I have just begun Chapter 8, which is the conclusion. I have a very detailed outlined of what needs to go into it, and it should be easy to follow, but I'm struggling nonetheless. I am struggling to find the words I have not already said in 70,000, that say the same things I did in the first 5000. I am struggling, really, to understand how a thesis I lost interest in six months ago can remotely be said to be useful and interesting for my field (or others). I am struggling to justify the last three years of my life in a few thousands words. And really, the main reason for that is because I am struggling to justify the last three years of my life period.
It seems to be running rampant in my department right now, but most people I know are questioning the sanity of doing their PhDs. We are all wondering why we are doing this and why it sounded like a good idea and why we just didn't take that job that probably would have gotten us a promotion (or at least a permanent position) by now. I think the main reason for this department wide questioning is because we all thought, three years ago, that that was enough time for the world to sort itself out. That by the time we graduated there would be jobs again. But they're aren't. It's still very difficult to get employment in this sector. It's still something that takes years and years of struggle and after years of struggling to get through academic (and get our careers started amidst that) we are all wondering if we'll ever actually get anywhere.
I look back on the last twelve years of my life since I first went off to university and I wonder - I can't help it - why I made the choices I did. I am grateful for so many things in those twelve years, and ungrateful for so many others. We take the good with the bad, and that's life. But after twelve years of upwards struggle to find my place, I know there are many more years left before I secure that place and I cannot help but wonder when I will ever be in a place financially, professionally or personally that I won't lie awake every night worried about tomorrow. I'm very tired of worrying and wondering.
And maybe the real reason it's so hard to write conclusions is because you know it's the end. That something else has to start and that's always going to be exciting but frightening. This conclusion is the conclusion of my PhD (not nearly, still 6 months to go after this) and therefor the conclusion of what is the background of my career. Now I have to work on the career, and that's an introduction I am both thrilled and terrified about, but it still means the end of something and ends are always hard.