Think back to when you started your doctoral program. If you had to do it all over again, would you do it? Would you advise others to do it? I quit after three years, and I’m re-enrolled against a clock that expires in just five weeks. Then I will write a letter explaining why I need an extension.
When I quit, I couldn’t stomach so much as the sight of my school’s website. After a topic change and a coach that encourages me weekly, I have learned dissertation Zen and improved my disposition.
Courage. After telling everyone that I would never go back to school and what a cluster the dissertation process is, I ate my words. Putting my ego aside took a lot of courage, as did heading back into the mire.
Humility. I thought I was smart and could do what I needed to for myself. During this process, I have met true scholars that I admire for their pure dedication to expanding knowledge. Asking for help is humbling for me, but I have learned to ask, not ever argue, and be grateful.
Patience. The first time I was writing my dissertation, I frequently felt annoyed about committee rotations or research debates. These days, I am happy to have a supportive Chair and trust that his comments will arrive at just the right time. If I don’t finish on my summer deadline, in the scheme of things, we’re not talking life or death…. I can try to blame someone, but that is wasting more time. I’m so happy for that lesson.
Serenity. The serenity prayer is not just for alcoholics. Accepting the things I cannot change, like the amount of time a new draft takes to get approved, brings peace. The courage to change the things I can has come much easier with simple, clear direction from a good Chair. As for wisdom, that is always a work in process, just like the dissertation.