Here’s an email I received from a prof at a former school. He captures an aspect that of the journey that I couldn’t express better:
A hearty congrats for finishing a long and arduous journey, of which few can fully understand. Family members are sympathetic and supportive but don’t really comprehend the gravity. Everyone says, “Well, we knew you would finish.” I also say that it is easy to be confident for someone else. The educational path you have taken is strewn with bodies of those who did not finish. Hurray for completing the road less traveled.