Tadaaaa!! Some of you may have seen a picture of me in my graduation robes (Thank you for your well wishes! You know who you are!). I tend to refrain from publishing photos of myself, my family and friends on the blog now as it gets more public and quite simply, more food-centric too. But this is a milestone that I’d like to pen, and share with my readers, some whom I have become firm friends with – these are some incredibly lovely people who supported me during my walk on this very rocky road with their countless texts, emails, chats and tweets! To those who aren’t interested in my personal life, word of warning here…this isn’t a food entry! =p
So…I went through my viva (what I call, the 105-minute gruelling session of a lifetime) and was conferred shortly after in February this year. To say that I’ve waited forever for my graduation day would be an understatement. It was however, not because of my pride and excitement (which I clearly felt when I graduated with my honours degree in Singapore) that I looked forward to this day. It was because of my parents, my family and my husband, M.
I was very calm throughout the ceremony – it felt like an ordinary day, except that I was in some rather heavy robes and what I call Strawberry Shortcake’s hat (to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the floppy hat in particular; I recall cringing whenever I saw seniors wearing them….). I sat through the Provost’s address, tonnes of applause and when I was finally called on stage, I wasn’t beaming like I should be, not even when the Provost asked what I am doing now, which extended our vigorous handshake into an awkward conversation over the applause.
I was kind of glad to get off the stage, to go back into the shadows where I belonged. I stepped away from the limelight and walked past my family to return to my seat. Then it happened; I saw my family smiling back at me, and my heart leapt with joy.
I did it. I really did it.
At the end of the ceremony, the Dean asked the graduates to stand up and face our families, who were beaming at us. She also asked us to show our appreciation to the most important people in our lives by giving them a round of applause. Before I knew it, I was cheering loudly along with the other graduates, constantly searching for my family in the large group. I applauded till my hands hurt. My nose tingled, my eyes watered, and then it hit me. Really hard.
I did it. But I couldn’t have done it without them.
Being away from home for so long was and is still incredibly hard for me. But the truth is it’s been equally hard for my family too. M takes such good care of me despite his stresses here; to that, I’d like to say that I am very fortunate to have a husband who loves me so much. My parents and siblings fight back their tears every time I weep at the airport when I return to London, just so they can be strong for me. And to that, I’d also like to say that I am very fortunate to be their daughter and sister, to be at the receiving end of such love, warmth and strength.
And as I write this, I realise this too.
I couldn’t have done it without you. Yes, you.
You have no idea how your words of encouragement, comments and how you being here (hopefully, always happy to read what I have to say), helped keep me sane during this journey. It was out of stress that I started this blog. It was out of quiet desperation that I decided to snap out of it, to start seeing the good in life and living life as The Pleasure Monger – one who aims to see the good in every situation. It was because of you that I felt that I could get through something as tough as my PhD years.
So thank you. All of you.
I did it!!
[Some of you may have heard that I was invited to meet Pierre Hermé for a 20-minute chat at Quintessentially Epicure, and God forbid, it was on the SAME day as my graduation. It was a one-in-a-million chance that I got invited to speak to my man, and possibly a one-in-a-gazillion chance that the day I was due to met Pierre Hermé should fall on one of the most important days of my life i.e. my PhD graduation. Obviously, I had to give the interview a miss because of the ceremony. I thought I would be inconsolable because he is after all, THE one and only pastry chef that I have been dying to meet, and this invitation is miles better than winning the lottery (okay, maybe not), but nope, the time with my family was priceless, and I was glad to spend time with my loved ones instead over good sushi and heartwarming conversation. On another note, I just want to say that it is very very unlikely, but oh well, one can only hope that I’ll get the chance to meet Monsieur Hermé (PR people, are you listening?!!)!]