It’s been nearly two months since my last post, and even longer since my last post of any substance. I could lie and say that work’s been crazy, or the holidays have been hectic, but none of that would be true. In fact, this has been the least hectic lead-up to Christmas I’ve had in years, certainly since starting my doctoral program in Sept. 2011.
Most of my evening hours the last several weeks have been spent working on my dissertation. I completed my 300-hour internship early in November, I’m nearing the end of my coursework (kind of hard to explain fully here, but for all intents and purposes, one more class in Jan-Feb and I’m done), and I’m preparing to be raised to candidacy for the Ed.D. After that, all that’s left between me and the degree is the little tiny matter of the dissertation.
Some background: my university program embeds the dissertation writing process into the coursework, to some degree. Students write the first two chapters during two different courses in Year One, we typically write Chapter 3 (or most of it) during one of our courses in Year Two, then we go to committee at some point early in Year Three, get approval to start our research, conduct our research during the second half of Year Three, finish writing, and defend by November to graduate the following January of Year Four (or Three-and-a-Half, as I like to consider it). Long story short, I’ve been working on this document since October or November of 2011, revising and polishing along the way, on a topic that is very important to me. To say I am invested is an understatement.
I spent most of November and early December this year majorly overhauling my Chapter 3 and preparing for my committee meeting. While I expected to be asked to make some revisions prior to moving forward, I was also expecting to be approved to begin my research upon making those changes. Instead, I was told to make more changes than I expected would be necessary and told the committee would reconvene in January to determine whether or not I could proceed.
Maybe this is par for the doc student course, but I wasn’t ready for that, especially after the hours I had invested in this project. The drive home felt like an eternity, my shoulders hunched around my ears out of a growing sense of stress, and I found myself seriously questioning how I was going to move forward.
Typically, when I have a task to accomplish, I like to get on it right away, no matter how daunting. But I came home from that meeting, put down my laptop bag with my notes in it, and haven’t been able to open it since. Not “haven’t wanted to” – “haven’t been able to”, as in, I go to take out the notes to get cracking and I just start to feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s been a week since that meeting and the bag still sits untouched next to my couch.
I’m not writing this post for “oohs” and “ahhs” and “poor babys” from the Internet. In fact, I think part of the paralysis I’m dealing with right now is my own shame at how paralyzed I’ve become by this task that, until now, I have been handling with relative competence (or so I thought). Maybe I’m hoping that reflecting in writing will help me to knock out the cobwebs and be able to get over this funk or malaise or whatever it is and get down to business right after Christmas. Perhaps seeing the problem in writing will help me to realize I’m blowing it out of proportion in my mind and it’s not as insurmountable as I’m making it out to be. I’m not really sure, but whatever it is, I hope it works.
If nothing else, hopefully it will be an entry I can look back on this time next year, as I’m preparing to graduate, and laugh at, remembering that time I panicked unnecessarily and frantically spat out a blog post full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.