12 August 2010

Dissertation Life Starts Now

I feel down. And I know why. I realized that there was a disconnect between me and my adviser. I had a meeting with him earlier today, and frankly, I didn't like how it went. He was disappointed, and I was disappointed as well. The thing is, we haven't met for three months, due to the summer and travel and all that, and it seems that the past three months have just gone to waste down the drain. So we talked. The thing is, it seems there was a disconnect between what he expected from me, and what I think was expected of me. And in typical INTJ fashion, I just told him directly what I found difficult.

I am having difficulty at sometimes addressing the concerns that he raises. Are these concerns that are just euphemisms for telling me that my project is shit? Or are these really concerns that I am capable of addressing? I mean, when he tells me that these are concerns, does he think that I have a way out of these concerns? Or are these concerns really there and I have no way to work around them? I don't want him to show me the answer, I just want an indication, a signal, to keep pushing, because if I push really hard, it will give way. On the other hand, if it is the case that even if I push it wouldn't budge, then I better find a solution by scrambling for a new topic.

Fortunately, the situation is not that. My adviser is still awesome. I suppose a good adviser admonishes one's student when needed (and I needed that), and commends and guides one's student as well. So after some discussion, there is a way out.

So starting tomorrow morning, the ball is in my court again. I have something to do and prove.

Why am I writing about this? It's a bit unappealing to write about a moment of weakness, no matter who one is. I don't know, I just feel like telling this to the whole world. Getting the Ph.D. is a journey, and I suppose this is just one of those times in which the path seems daunting, like there is a big tall wall in front of me, and I feel so puny and little, and no matter how much rope I have, I can't seem to reach the top, and it feels like conquering this big wall is impossible.

A friend of mine shared me some perspective-assessing website with respect to the Ph.D. In The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D., it accurately shows that one's Ph.D. is just a minute contribution to the entire collective of human knowledge. You learn a subset of human knowledge in elementary school, and then in high school, and then in college you specialize, and then your masters degree furthers that specialty. The doctorate then takes you to the edge of current human knowledge: reading all the papers I have read essentially is keeping me up to date with what is currently held true by humans.

And here I am, pushing and pushing, harder and harder, trying to further that human knowledge. But as I am reminded by this, it's still small, a small fracture, a small shift from the original state of human knowledge. The thought humbles me, actually. The Biblical character Solomon is attributed with saying that the making of many books is wearisome to the flesh, and I agree. But that's not reason to quit. I'll push, and I'll shift human knowledge to best ability I have.

Anyway, I realize I hit a difficult part, and as my adviser told me, research isn't always a walk in the park. But I am glad that there's a way out. And the goal for today is to grab that rope and climb it.

Funny, but I get the feeling I am not the only one feeling low. Sometimes, knowing that someone else is in need of positive energy gives one the drive to strive and do well and rise and get up. I know you're reading this, and I thank you for the most time-appropriate message. Somehow, I get the feeling I just beamed a thought and the message successfully went through.

It's 6:04 PM, and I'll enjoy the rest of the afternoon with an earphone, Three Days Grace (hence the title of this entry: the eponymous song is actually very appropriate), and Thomas Pynchon. Tomorrow morning, we have some serious climbing to do.

(Temple Museum, from my Qorikancha Series)

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