I've been told that your doctoral dissertation is like your boyfriend or husband. And there was one thing separating me and my dissertation. Qualifying examinations. I received word yesterday that I have been officially approved to move on, and as such, I can finally put ABD, at the end of my credentials.
It felt like I was at the podium, getting an Oscar award or the Pulitzer Prize. I thought to myself...
"I want to thank God, whose grace and mercy has enabled this to happen. I want to thank my husband, who encouraged and nurtured my anxiety through this process. I want to thank my parents for giving me the gift of life, and bring up a child that can achieve this greatness. I want to thank my unborn child for staying with me, through the stress..."
The makings of a great speech, wouldn't you say.
I'm not gonna lie, the process is brutal. But I've told myself, consistently, that I made it through my master's degree; I've been here before; I can do this. Despite, the thoughts of failure, disappointment, and defeat in my mind, I had to focus and work. I'm not saying it was pretty, I'm not saying it was perfect. I'm saying, I'm on the other side of the (god-forsaken) line.
It's hard to keep morale. I postponed and delayed my exams twice. I failed one. Had to do a retake, and I had to postpone that by two weeks too. I drove three hours in a snowstorm, several weeks pregnant, after a prior delay of an anxiety attack to go and take that exam. And I had to remind myself while I was trying to sleep the night before that I need to focus on the immediate.
Each individual's story is different. And while I have some personal feelings about whether this testing model is the best way to do this, I think once you've overcome this hurdle, you are jolted to finish line. I'm not saying I'm rejuvenated. I'm exhausted, but, I can't stop now. I have to finish, else, the stress to get here will be in vain.
One of the things I had to do, in order to focus, was shelf the work that I was doing on my dissertation. You know, because, who does things in order of the way they should be done. I had an idea of the work I wanted to get done and was doing a lot to figure that out. But I needed to separate the two so that I could study for my exams. Now I need to start the dissertation work up again.
The two may be linked, but for my brain, the two create a maze in the head. So starting the dissertation again is like getting back on a bicycle you haven't ridden in over 20 years. It might seem like you know what you are doing, but your body is asking, "What are you doing?"
Today, I spent the time to go through my paperwork, notes, and articles, to figure out what is related to what. And I've organized those. My next step, although 3 days late, is to join the writing club, to help me get back into the practice of writing. The group that I affiliate with, is the Academic Writing Club. And, as long as I use it daily, I should get my money's worth. The cost is why I hadn't joined this month, but I'm gonna dip into my savings to make this commitment. And hopefully, I can meet my target and have my first draft ready by the end of winter break.
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