PhD perseverance is… insane. It is intense. An exercise in exhaustion and mental power.
I thought the proposal phase of the dissertation was difficult – oh, wait, it was.
There is nothing about my PhD journey that has been easy. I’m amazed the trials haven’t broken me. I am, however, 30 pounds heavier, 22 of which I can directly attribute to 2014 and beyond.
It’s now been six weeks since my last interview for my data collection. At a minimum — minimum — I need 12 individual interview participants and 4 focus group participants. I am a little over half what is required for me to move forward with analysis. This focus group might very well be the end of me. I already made two failed attempts because of inability to secure enough confirmed participants to show up.
When you get to this space of frustration and complete overwhelm, persevering through your PhD program will require putting that frustration in check and find the work on which to continue to focus.
I cannot afford to go to into the headspace of anger and impatience. I am… so close to the end goal. I have to wait, and persist, and find the positivity through this grind and also keep my head in the mind frame focused on vetting participants and coordinating with administrators at my study site.
When I complete the data collection, then I will be able to leave Phoenix, and take that next step. Next step toward analysis and forming conclusions to defend as final actions to obtain my doctoral degree, and next step toward my next step in my life.
I don’t have a hard plan and all of that figured out, and that lack of design is intentional.
For the first time, I don’t have a set plan, and that sort of anarchistic, nebulous construct might actually be exactly what I need to level set. Because my “plans” in the past haven’t necessarily gone bad, but I wouldn’t say they’ve gone exceptionally well, either.
And, I need to remember the words of my dissertation chair, without whom, I don’t believe I would have been able to come this far…
The dissertation is supposed to be hard, the data collection is challenging, and more importantly, I can do this.
Which means, you can do this, too. Push through the emotions. Step away from your computer and your analysis. Put down the books. For a small while, at least. Go for a walk. Refrain from eating the box of crackers and the entire tub of hummus. If you need a big pour of wine, go for it. Your PhD is a test in perseverance.
“By seeking and blundering we learn.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe