Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life After the Defense

..But wait, there's more!

I have made a promise: I am not allowed to feel sorry for myself until 2021. It took so long to get to this post-defense life that I have promised to learn from every life lesson I've gathered up until this point. For starters, no self-pity. I will trust myself and what God is doing through me. I will create realistically optimistic goals and follow through. I will conquer (myself) again and again.

My first realistically optimistic goal was simply to type out the notes that my advisor collected during my defense, which will be turned into a memo for my committee members. I noticed first that I was procrastinating on even pulling out the notes to look over them. I was able to overcome that first hurdle of getting started just by recognizing that I was avoiding the task. I promised myself a quick reward that would follow the transcription, just to get myself started. I framed my thinking proactively to take out the emotion: "Your goal is simply to transcribe. You are not connected to the task otherwise. Currently, you are simply a typist. Simply type." Something like that.

As I typed, I noticed myself thinking, "These comments aren't so bad." As I finished a page, I breathed a sigh of relief, noticing that my heartbeat had sped up. Really. It wasn't the typing, I realized. My issue was that I was reliving the defense as I typed. The intensity and the anxiety, "Is the next question going to be too hard for me to answer? Are they asking questions that will expose some horrible flaw in the document?" As I typed, those "what-ifs" had been pulled up from wherever I had buried them.

But, I remind myself, I've already passed. I never have to do this defense again. I am in celebration mode. I choose to work on these revisions now and let them be over with. Done. Forever. This is where I've wanted to be for so long. This is the good place that pulled me to it as I worked. Sure there's more work - the dissertation needs a little more polish, clarity, elbow grease. But all that mattered all along was that it was good enough.

Good enough! Back to work. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Dissertation House Post

Here's what I wrote on the D-House blog today:

-0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes!

Did someone page Dr. Alexis Williams? :D It is official. I still have a bunch to do in terms of revisions but I will do it as Dr. Williams. They can’t take it back and I don’t have to defend EVER AGAIN!! Whew! That was intense. But they don’t just hand these things out, so it is good that they challenge me to make it better.

This quote was on a card I received yesterday: “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

So the important thing now is to keep moving. I will make sure to celebrate this day that I have dreamed of, feverishly-longingly-sometimes even hopelessly, but I will also keep moving because the journey is the goal. If the degree itself were the goal, we’d all just die at the end. Thank God I am here and I am still alive to do more each day!

Dr. Alexis Williams