Monday, May 30, 2005
do the thing you think you cannot do
this is my personal mantra. I have it tacked right above my computer.
"Do the thing you think you cannot do." (Eleanor Roosevelt)
So much of grad school (and life, I suppose, as well) can be chalked up to courage and confidence. For some courage and confidence seem to come so easily- but I suspect everyone must struggle with this to some degree. For me, it is more of a struggle than someone might think. It's an every-day conversation with myself, like the train in "The Little Engine that Could," I try to keep telling myself "I think I can, I think I can..." And then I just wind up giving myself permission to "fake it" (the song "Fakin' It" by Simon & Garfunkel always comes to mind) and to just try to write an article like I am some kind of old pro at it. This seems to work sometimes- forcing me to forget about myself, cut through the struggle and just do it already.
But, the prelim is another kind of beast entirely. It's not like a research project or a paper where you have a direction and focus to pull sources together, and to guide your reading and learning. It is just this huge frightening nebulous thing. People tell you you'll do okay- but you can't even wrap your brain about where to begin with it. Which prior question do I start to build an answer to? What do I start reading first with a list of hundreds of books and articles in front of me? What section of questions do I even begin with? Theory because I like it? Or micro-soc because I know the least about it? And furthermore, I know what I am like when I am writing. I know how to talk myself into doing things. With this I have no freaking clue how to talk myself through it. It will be a learning process for sure, but it can't be much of a learning process because I don't want to take it twice. I don't even know what I'll be like the month before, or (good god) the week before. Should Jo go to NY and stay as far away from me as possible? Or will I want her around and freak out if she isn't?
Well, I know it won't help to blog myself into a tizzy about it. I'll have to just start someplace. And I'll have to really be actively reflexive and flexible about how I am studying- what is working and what isn't and keep the notes I have from my meeting with some of the committee in mind.
Most importantly, I need to just keep myself on some high of pseudo-confidence. If I doubt whatever process that is ahead of me even for a second, I'll sink. We're talking some serious positive thinking, even for me.
[at least writing all that about the prelim just now made my article draft seem less daunting. it is all relevent after all...]
posted by knit wit | 5/30/2005 10:41:00 AM