Thursday, February 26, 2009

Step by step

Don't laugh at what I am about to tell you.

I have been thinking about and planning my dissertation for years. Long before I started grad school I would dream about the research that I would conduct.

Yes, I realize I am a nerd. It's okay. I have embraced it.

Anyway, as much as I have been looking forward to my dissertation, it hit me today - it's almost time to start.

I am reminded of my pregnancies. For those that have experienced pregnancy and birth, maybe you can understand. You get pregnant (start grad school). You have some early pains and adjustments (kind of like the morning sickness) but nonetheless, you are very excited. Eventually, the discomfort passes and you feel great. You have gotten in a rhythm and are enjoying grad school (welcome second trimester, the only tolerable point of pregnancy for me). Then one day it hits you - you have to write a dissertation (or give birth). The feat seems impossible. I mean seriously, who can write a 400 page paper on something new that has never been done before (or push a human being out of...never mind). Now, you know people that have finished this (and mothers that have given birth), but you still doubt yourself. You try to prepare. You read as much research on your topic as possible (read baby book after baby book after mind numbing baby book) and get your computer and workspace ready (decorate a nursery with a crib that the baby won't actually sleep in and coordinating colors that the baby will never notice). You choose the people that you want to be a part of your birth (your committee) and the expert that you trust more than anybody (your chair). Of course, in academia and pregnancy, the experts can sometimes let you down. In the end, you will go through the painful and rewarding experience of the dissertation (labor and yes, labor can be rewarding at moments) until the paper is complete and then go through the final push of the oral defense (birth). Although it is incredibly difficult, the entire process is completely worth the outcome of the degree (okay, you have followed me this long. Please tell me that you can complete the metaphor on your own here).

I wonder if I can do my oral defense in a tub. It helped with the labor pains, maybe it will help here.

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