Friday, February 14, 2014

what the olympics taught me about writing a dissertation

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper, USA Today Sports
I can't exactly claim that watching the Olympics qualifies as research. But it did prove helpful to my dissertation. Sunday evening was the only time this week I could afford to spend watching the games, and to my delight, the schedule included figure skating. Figure skaters always amaze me—their grace, their strength, their poise, their ability to spin and not get dizzy. This year, however, what stood out to me was not a triple toe-loop or a double axel. What struck me were the words of Gracie Gold's coach, Frank Carroll, just before she skated out to start her program. He looked her in the eye and told her to love skating. When you love something, the fear goes away.

It's true. When we live in fear, we are guaranteed not to reach our potential. Being afraid to fall does not make for a good skating program. And being afraid to fail does not make for a good dissertation.

My best dissertation will be the dissertation I love writing. If I let worry eat away at my day—afraid it won't be good enough, afraid my external reader won't like it, afraid I missed something, afraid I've gotten it wrong, afraid I can't make my deadline—the dissertation will never sing. When I let go of my fears, I can remember why I started this journey in the first place, and the process is full of joy again. I love to study. I love to learn. I love to write. I love this dissertation. And I will love watching this dream come true.

Oh, and in case you've been wondering where I went, I've been locked away working on my double salchow ... uh, I mean my footnotes. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to skate a perfect program!

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