Dissertation Blues

Make sure you don’t become a servant to what you’re trying to master.

Michael D. Gatson

I had a conversation with a friend and mentor last night. I shared that there are a few things I’ve been trying really hard to master lately; one of those things is my dissertation. I have been asked several times when I am graduating. I will be graduating when all three of my committee members sign my dissertation as complete. I have been working on my dissertation while maintaining a full-time federal career, serving as a military officer, and traveling to teach and consult on various topics.

This dissertation is something that I have given a life of its own. Somewhere deep down I have maintained a secret belief that it is too hard, too big to master and true to my own beliefs. It continues to elude me. I have never worked so hard on anything in my life as I have on this. I have never disciplined and focused myself as much as I have on this. I admit I have thought about quitting the program to focus on my career 100%.

I received my paper from my committee with 346 individual comments. I am not 100% happy about all of the changes, but I am willing to do whatever to finish this goal and have a masterpiece published. I want it with everything in me, and I have been told “if you want it bad enough, it will come to you.” Why is it still so far when it’s so near, when it’s so within reach?

This weekend I had a light bulb moment: I have been giving it too much attention. I have focused on it too hard and too long, I have fantasized and imagined of how hard it must be, and I have blown it so out of proportion. For the first time, I have understood that what you focus on grows, literally. I had to remind myself you know whom you are, and you know how to produce your best work while wearing multiple hats and you know what’s good for you.

For me, allowing stress to control or consume me is not how I get things done. This weekend reminded me of the simple things that restore me. This past weekend I was able to take time away from my hectic schedule and just relax. It’s not often that I get the chance to sleep in late, and not respond to calls or emails. I had the opportunity to eat all of my favorite foods, get a massage, attend a Boys II Men concert, and attend church on Sunday.

We all have our own definition of what simplicity is for us. For me, just being myself is the highest definition of simplicity. It’s the point where I have surrendered the need to control everything. It brings me back to the truth that simple truly is beautiful. Simple is not laziness or complacency. Simple is handling everything with grace, its poise, and its class that no one can take from you. Simple oozes confidence all the time.

This journey has not been an easy one, but the pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is an opportunity for growth. All growth depends upon activity. One thing I am learning that it is not in my time but in God’s time because his time is always on time.

In three, weeks, I will start traveling to present on various topics. I am so thankful for the opportunities God has blessed me with. I am going to take time to embrace, enjoy, and be grateful for all of his many blessings.

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