life as i know it

"...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"idea"...Sunday Scribblings

In doctoral school, dissertations are a dreaded entity. You spend your first year completely consumed with classes, struggling just to adjust and maintain your daily life and your sanity. The second year requires more adjustment, approximately 15-20 hours each week of work at a practicum in addition to classes. The third year is much the same, but practicum placement changes and expectations rise, the year culminating in comprehensive exams that either make or break your future plans. Fourth year is simply classes and dissertation work, and the entire process of applying for internships. And hopefully, if all goes as originally planned (which rarely happens), you have proposed and defended your dissertation prior to the beginning of the fifth year. The fifth year involves a move to a new area of the country, adjustment to living in a new place, working in a new environment, and still struggling to afford food and rent while you work ridiculously long hours and continue the five-year span of sleep deprivation. This is the way the process was originally explained to me; the steps from start to finish of becoming a doctor.

No one actually ever told me when was the best time to start a dissertation or clinical research project (as they are called in PsyD programs). In fact, no one spoke much at all about the process of writing this dreaded thing or doing all the research necessary or even the laborious process of choosing a topic that is amenable to study. No one spoke of this dreaded entity until this week, that is.

On Wednesday afternoon, the entity was placed squarely before us, no chance of continuing to pretend it did not exist. As we sat there, drinking in every word, scribbling notes on the process of getting started, the expectations, the stresses that would come to feel unbearable at we sat there, the ideas started spinning in my head. Ideas that had been launched in my mind several years ago, the wheels spinning, circulating, spiraling deeper as I allowed myself to start really thinking about what this process would entail.

It all starts with an idea. An idea about a specific topic, not too broad, not too narrow. An idea that has not been thoroughly researched in previous years by other people. An idea that is strong enough to withstand a very detailed proposal and then exciting enough to keep you interested for the next couple of years as you relentlessly work on creating your final masterpiece for defense. In some strictly clinical programs (such as mine) you have a choice; you can do a theoretical or non-empirical study or you can choose the longer, more difficult route of doing an original empirical dissertation. As the ideas swam through my head on Wednesday, I finally found myself wondering if I had completely lost my mind. My ideas are all for original empirical research...that long, difficult, extremely stressful journey that can easily delay the process of becoming a doctor for an additional year. So as the ideas spun, I had to question myself, question my dedication, my motivation, my passion for these ideas. But that is the is my true passion. It is an idea that I believe is vitally important to the field of clinical psychology. It is an idea that I believe has the potential to influence the diagnosis and treatment of patients, and consequently, the potential to influence the effectiveness and success of such treatment. It is an idea that will require lots of time, thought, travel, and persistence. But it is an idea in which I believe. An idea for which I am willing to do what is necessary to manifest it to reality. It is an idea that can possibly bring about change, that can potentially help people, that can literally make a difference in the lives of my patients.

So instead of waiting until the third or fourth year, I am starting now. In reality, I started on Wednesday...the day the idea was reborn, unearthed from the recesses of years of too many thoughts. I have a long journey ahead of me, one that no doubt will bring tears and stress, but also excitement and eager anticipation of what may come.

I have an idea...


At 1:05 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

It sounds exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. I wish I could give you my free time to help, but instead I'll cheer you on! You can never regret a passionate idea :)

Much love

At 1:07 PM, Blogger BendingPeak said...

Just having an idea for your CRP is a huge step. Good job for staying focused Tara. I am right there with your in the midst of school and work. So glad to hear that you are taking time out for yourself, it's the only way that all of this will work out.
Hope you week is as stress free as possible,
Oh, do you know somebody by the name of Lisa Quinn? She just finsihed her PsyD at AU Atlanta, and is now teaching at AU Dallas.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous susanna said...

Good luck with your research and dissertation! As my mom says, All your hard will pay off in the end!

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish i was as excited about mine as you are about yours. sigh.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so proud of you. You're gonna make (you already are) such a difference in so many patients' lives who need you. Your sensitivity and understanding.... I am just so proud of you and how hard you are working to make your passion come true. And I'm here to cheer you along the whole way. I believe you can do this.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Alexandra G said...

hello there Tara!!! Happy Belated New Year to you! Somehow though we are not in regular touch I just hope you know what a dear, kindred soul I find you. Good luck with your thesis! You are wise to start now rather than deal with the psycho stress of putting it off and having it pile up. I knew someone at U of Washington who did exactly that and it took him like 7 or 8 years to end up finishing it. That won't be you!!

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so excited for you--it sounds like you've found an idea that will consume your mind and soul until you give birth to it. There is no better way to live.


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