As I stood at the top of the staircase in the academic building at my august British university, the voices began: “Failure. Flunkie. Flop.”
I had just experienced what was, and remains, the most awkward, humiliating moment of my life. In the final hour of my seven years of effort, my two oral examiners had just rejected my PhD work. After hearing the news, I had to stand up in front of them, cram my useless 400-page paper into my briefcase, and exit the room in heavy silence. One of them had simply stared at me without expression; the other never made eye contact.
Classes were letting out, and the atrium below bustled with throngs of students, chattering and laughing. Their journey of chasing their dreams was just coming to birth, whereas mine had just died.