“when an englishman tells you he’s a little bit concerned, it means he’s having a panic attack”


So I wanted to follow up on something I wrote in a comment to yesterday’s post. I’m terrified of leaving here without enough data. When I came in the spring, my goal was to gather enough information to write two case studies (which may end up being three chapters), begin research on one of the case studies that I know the least about, and make significant progress on writing one chapter. This is what I told my advisors I was going to do.

Now with under six weeks left, I haven’t finished the research for a single case study. (When I say finished, I don’t mean that I don’t have every single scrap of data that I’ll ever need. I mean I don’t have enough information to make a good effort at a complete chapter draft with argument.) Of course, this is because in effect I took three months off. I may have only intentionally taken a month and a half off but the month and a half before was so labored, it might as well have been time off.

So of course I know that it’s not realistic to expect that I can do in two and a half months what I said I would do in six and I probably wouldn’t even care if it weren’t for two things. The first is an actual concern: my second trip will only be for four to five months. I expect to be in a better frame of mind and more certain of my project by then (and hopefully done with this bitch of a case study). But then again I didn’t expect to fall apart this summer so who knows? At any rate, the problem with this research trip wasn’t just that I fell apart; I also had to face the realization with just how massive my project is and even if I hadn’t had motivation problems, I still wouldn’t have progressed as quickly as I had hoped. So I’m concerned about the next trip, which will be my last substantive research trip for the dissertation. Will I be able to get enough done to write a dissertation that does what it’s supposed to do?

The second is a mental block. As it is, I don’t have a ton of support in my program from professors who know me well and who know my abilities. It’s not worth going into the reasons for this but, because I don’t have a group of advisors who trust me, returning without doing what I said I was going to do isn’t going to play well. I also still don’t have enough written material to network with other scholars. My prospectus bears little resemblance to my current project, although I did send it out once last fall. So I am worried about becoming even more isolated professionally because I haven’t yet produced the work that should allow me to begin networking.

I know I can only do what I can do in the next five weeks and I can’t have any serious expectations that I’m going to plow through material but knowing that still doesn’t ease the sinking feeling in my stomach that when I get back, I’m going to catch a lot of heat for not getting a lot done from people who will not understand that I fell apart and had to take time off. It’s the sad fact in my life that the people who need to understand my personal struggles the most are the people that I feel the least comfortable having any kind of personal conversation with.

Oh, and the quote is from last night’s episode of the restaurant when raymond blanc chastises my favorite contestants for nearly messing up an event.


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