Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Take a hike

"Take a hike!"

That's not what the professors actually said to me Monday, but that's what I heard. What I had written was not clear or complete enough for their consideration.

"All this work, months and months of writing and reading... and there's no proposal! How can that be?" My thoughts were in chaos when I went to bed that night. "Do I have to start over? I can't go back to the beginning. I can't!" The proposal I've been working on since March had been shredded to bits. I felt trampled by the criticism of seven professors. 

"I cannot write another proposal," I told them. "Four proposals are enough." (The other three had been discarded as the issues were resolved or became irrelevant to me over the past two years.

I'm in the first cohort of a new PhD program, so the kinks aren't quite ironed out, nor are the procedures nailed down. Between flurries of emails from professors, students hear nothing for weeks. It's to be expected: the program is a great fit for our skills and interests, but wading through the emerging rules as the first cohort is both frustrating ("We don't know the answer to that yet,") and rewarding (the first cohort slips past some restrictions laid down for later cohorts). If we were quitters, we'd have already quit. 

"Oh, don't give up. All of us had to go through this, and worse," say Dr. and Dr. L, my hosts. "It's important to understand that in the game of academia hoop-jumping is almost as important as the end product."

This week started slowly. I was discouraged. But the pace has picked up! What fun - my tutorial advisers have lined up, waiting for approval. My research is coming into focus due to excellent interactions with faculty. 

"By the end of next week, we'll have something to hand in," assures my primary adviser. Optimist.

"Take a hike" apparently actually means, "Let's keep climbing, cutting out and redefining until we have it right. The process is steep and arduous, but keep going. We'll get there eventually!" 

I sleep very well at night. Head hits the pillow, lights go out... then, "Is it morning already?!" I guess hiking can wear you out! 

Read more:
*Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 NIV

*"I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race... The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow... Ecclesiastes 1:13, 18 NLT

*Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us--eternal life. 1 John 2:24-25 NLT

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