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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Beginning to See the Light

Something has changed. It snuck up on me and seems very sudden and drastic. I’m not sure how it happened but I am closer to being a graduating student than a beginning student in my Ph.D. program. Three years have passed and I am on track to have only two left. Of course all of this provides that I finish my research, the data is interesting and I don’t fall to pieces when it comes to writing the dissertation. Those are some pretty big conditions to meet!

Anyways, with this realization, my focus has changed. I have always needed to get papers written and get research done but it is different now. Things that I am most involved in are higher in priority than anything else. Side projects are just that and my own stuff has to come first. This might mean being involved in fewer projects but is a necessary step I think. I know that my time is limited and I am trying to use it wisely (at least when I’m not uhhh, reading blogs...). I have every day till the end on July planned out with experiments and lab work and have only 1 day off to run a race around the 4th. Things will be finished when I leave here.
The dynamic with other students and my advisor has changed too. In the department, I really don’t know the newer students coming in (besides V of course) because I am not in classes with them. Perhaps if I were actually there I would know them more but I’m plugging away at this thing and have been since they showed up. We don't even have shared hallways or happy hours to bond and commiserate over.
Things with my advisor are even weirder. Most of the time, I try to just accept his special brand of crazy and we get along fine- great even. But with some of my work lately, there are decisions to be made about protocol and our usual chats about research that always end with him telling me what he thinks will be best and then my choosing whether or not to do that thing just are not happening. Since it is my research, he is very, very quiet with his opinions and very loud about my making my own choices and making sure I can back them up with well founded reasoning. He even told me to be sole author on my poster at the big conference this summer (and I complied, but not without checking with him three times that it was the best thing to do). This push to research on my own is new and a little uncomfortable.
This light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel feeling is accompanied by anxiety. I’m not ready. It’s too soon. Not enough papers. Not good enough papers. Samples sizes must be bigger. More treatments. Did I miss a control? Will my committee be satisfied? It is also accompanied by confidence. I am ready. Look how far I’ve gotten already! I am sure both of these feelings will pass as I delve back into the intense research period that is planned out for the next month and a half. Either way, I am aware of my progression which is really, really weird.

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Blogger frog-o-phobic said...

Yesterday at my conference I learned that being aware of your own thinking and the progression of your thinking is one of the signs that you are truly, deeply understanding something - so, it is not weird at all. It's great!

10:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sure it's uncomfortable, but it's exaclty the step you need in your education. We're supposed to be independent when we come out of this.
I assure you, there are far, far worse ways for advisors to be.
Stick with it!

3:13 PM  

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