Regression? A Token Economy? Or Academia?

I’ll be frank with you, dear blogosphere.  I am completely and utterly terrified of my dissertation.  It’s silly, I know.  There’s nothing here that I haven’t done (albeit on a smaller scale) before.  I have collected, analyzed, written, and presented data from various projects.  I’ve stood, sweating, in uncomfortable suits whilst waiting for my committee to approve proposals and defenses.  And, since I’m interested in longitudinal work, I’ve even interacted with the very children who will participate in my dissertation project.

And, yet, I’m terrified.

Last week I convinced myself that I was silly.  Yes, of course the project seems overwhelming when I attack it as a whole.  So, determined to make “baby steps”, I grabbed my purse, walked to the library, and checked out a stack of books on dissertation-writing.  Feeling accomplished, I returned my office and began to flip through said books.  This lasted for all of, say, 45 seconds before I felt a crippling fear creeping into my stomach.  So I pushed the books aside for a good week’s worth of procrastinatory article-reading, lesson-planning, and undergrad researcher training.

Today I had a conversation with a friend going through a similar struggle with academic hurdles.  We spoke of the difficulties associated with never quite fully reaching our own (and our department’s) increasingly high expectations.  Then we spoke of that simpler time when our hard work resulted in (perfectly) completed work, pats on the back, and a chart full of star stickers.

As a result, I created the following for myself.

This is totally normal adult behavior, right?

Call it regression to a simpler period.  Call it a token economy.  Call it general, sleep-deprived loopiness.  I’ll call it the first baby step on the way to a completed dissertation.

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