Wait, you actually expect me to…

The Prospectus was almost adequately defended last Friday. I say “almost” because, of course, there are some changes that need to be made; “adequately” because all committee members signed the form that will eventually get turned into the Grad School, even if Advisor is currently holding it hostage.

I thought the defense was quite stressful and difficult, more so than I was expecting. There were a couple of really hard moments, but overall, the discussion was good and helpful, along with a lot of great feedback. And now I have to incorporate those into my document.

But here’s what I can’t get over. There were moments in the discussion when I realized that we weren’t just talking about some document. We/they were, in fact, discussing a project that someone was going to do... someone, as in ME. No, seriously. This is my dissertation project.

Yes, I know. That was and has been the point of this whole ordeal. But this reality came upon me suddenly (ok, as suddenly as it could, I suppose) and in subsequent waves. As my committee discussed the project, I kept having these thoughts of, “Ah, yes. If one were actually doing this thing, then that would be a very valid concern,” or, “Oh right, yes, someone doing this project would very much need to figure that out…,” which inevitably led to, “OH CRAP. That’s me. I’m going to do this.”

So, yeah. Uh, now, I’m supposed to revise the Prospectus, taking into account the fact that I’m expected to actually conduct this research and write this massive document. And I still think that’s all a bunch of crazy talk.

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Crazier…

I started this week with a post entitled “Crazy.” As it’s a fitting descriptor for my mental state this week, I’m following up today with “Crazier.” I can provide a very reasonable explanation as to why I shouldn’t feel so crazy, but that reasonable explanation and my reality haven’t been talking much this week. This “crazy” has not exhibited itself through any sort of histrionics nor physical symptoms, really. Instead, it’s been all in my head (wait, maybe there’s another word for this…).

In my journey toward “comma PhD,” there have been hurdles (figurative), sleepless nights (literal), procrastinating (lots), stress, undergraduate papers and grading, loads of reading and writing, grad school paperwork, happy hours, frustration, and meetings upon meetings upon meetings. In retrospect, I am certain that I was much better at the first four years of PhD grad school than the past year of stuff. As it should be, I suppose, since those first four years were a matter of doing Things I Had Done Before, just a harder, more onerous, more taxing version of those things (i.e., school). I have come to learn that I am quite good at Being Busy and Getting Stuff Done.

This past year and half has turned all of that on its head, so to speak. I have had to do Things I’ve Never Done Before, like become an expert on a particular field of study for comps, interact with Scholars, envision a large-scale research project, and also explain in painful detail how to carry that project through.

And now, as I am facing something else altogether new and different, such as say, writing a dissertation, I am simultaneously horrified and terribly excited.* The prospectus defense stands as the culmination of this craziness. It is the doorway to the next part of this journey. It is a challenge to explain myself to a room full of very smart and accomplished people. It is another hoop through which the grad school will have me jump.

It’s what I’ll be doing this afternoon.

Happy Friday, y’all!