This morning I got a text from a friend telling me how proud he was that I finished my dissertation and successfully defended.  He said I made it look easy.

I responded back that it wasn’t easy at all actually.

And then I almsot sent a second text saying:

“But I was really lucky.”

I stopped myself and instead said:

“I made some really good decisions along the way.”

This is a really important distinction for me to make.  Often, I want to dismiss what takes lots of planning and thought as “luck.”  Several people (my coach included) have pointed this out to me.  I tend to dismiss the things I do well and focus all my energies on critiquing myself.  I am always open to critique and not always to praise, self or otherwise.

I think this is part of what is causing the post-phd blues.  The edits I need to do on the dissertation are very minimal and are totally voluntary.  The anxiety I experienced leading up to the defense was centered mostly on the idea that I would get in that room and they would tear me apart because that was what, in my mind, I deserved.  No where in my thinking was the memory of the careful planning and the months I spent writing and editing the dissertation.  My mind was completely focused on what was wrong with it, regardless of the constant positive praise of my adviser.

Even during and after the defense when one of my committee members continued to say what a great read my dissertation was my main thought was, “Damnit.  It must not be good enough if it was easy and fun to read.”

Yes, I really thought that.

So somewhere between those two texts this morning I changed my mindset.  And just like remembering to live in the moment, I know this one isn’t going to be all that easy to remember but hopefully I can get some more positive pathways established in my all too negative thinking brain.


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