I’ve been working on my dissertation proposal for too many months to count now. This is a common phenomenon and not worth commenting on. But what is of note is this: I’ve been slogging through mud for some time now, and six weeks ago, I came to a full stop. I’ve banged my head against the proverbial wall. I’ve paced. I’ve frowned and stared off into the wild blue yonder. I’ve retraced my steps, started anew, retraced, tracked out in a different direction.
This wouldn’t be so tragic if I didn’t have three pretty tight chapters of an almost complete dissertation proposal. Here is my roadblock: I’ve been feeling as though it’s Frankensteined together for some time. There’s something wrong and it feels disingenuous to keep pushing. (Note to self: it’s important to honor the tension of daily forward movement vs. forcing something that doesn’t fit.) So I’ve given myself permission to wrestle with it. I’ve taken time, time that I don’t feel I have – which makes it all the more important to take the time.
But the more I tease at it, the more I read and ponder and consider, the more I think that there is a missing link. The more I depend upon that sidelong glance, the more I realize that I’m keeping “the tail of [my] eye on what is happening over and above [the] author” and theory and research that I’m reading (Frost). It’s not Frankenstein – there is simply a missing element. It is a bridge that links the two together. It is my job to identify, design, gather materials for, and build this bridge.
I’m good for it. I’ve got this. I have a growth mindset. In the immortal words of Gandhi, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.“
On the other hand, I am learning the hard way that Vygotsky is right: Learning is social. I need someone to talk to. I need iron sharpening iron. I need hard questions. I need to be simmering in the primordial morass of likewise seeking scholars, intent on the nuances of measures and constructs and theoretical frameworks. This isolation isn’t what I signed up for.
But the bridge calls. And forward movement is essential. And growth, while painful, is worth it in the end.