My Thesis: Buried in Apprehensions

Last week I officially finished my last course for my Master's Degree in English with a concentration in Teaching. I earned my undergraduate degree in December of 2008 and registered for my first graduate class that next month. I've slowly been plugging away ever since, taking classes during the school year and the summer. I'm on track to graduate sometime next summer---so now that I'm done with my coursework, the next step is my thesis. Yikes.

I met with my advisor a few weeks ago, and he helped me create a clear cut to-do list for the next four weeks: finalize my committee, fill out a few forms, get IRB approval, and write my initial proposal. I planned on starting this last week. So far I've only finalized my committee. I have plenty of time on my hands, but the thought of actually starting on this giant project freaks. me. out. Here's why:
  • I am a terrible decision maker. I'm wishy-washy. I have so many teaching interests, that I don't even know how to begin to narrow them down and pick just one.
  • I fear feeling stupid. The most terrifying (and the most beneficial) comment I've ever heard a professor utter is, "What are you adding to the overall conversation on this issue?" This terrifies me; I'm only 25, I've only been teaching for three years---what do I have to add to any intellectual conversation? I feel like I haven't been around long enough to add to anything. I want to add something crazy insightful to my field--so insightful that someone will want to publish it. But I fear falling short of this goal. I fear that I won't add anything to my field because I'm simply not intelligent or critical enough. A teacher and PhD student I know wrote in a post on GradHacker, "Eventually, I will run out of stupid ideas and be left with something that will work" (Zellner). I can only hope for this.
  • This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out: I fear that our adoption will go through while I'm working on my thesis. There is nothing that I want more than to become a mom, but part of me fears that if this happens while I'm working on my thesis that I'll never finish. I've come so far in my program, and I really want to finish and move on to the next step, but I've wanted to be a mom for so long that I also fear (I'm not sure that's the right word to convey what I really feel...) I will want to just quit my job and spend all my time being a mom. I want to be the world's best mom AND I want to be the best in my field. Can I do both? I'm not sure....
Whew. As much as I feel buried in all of these apprehensions, a portion of me is excited for this experience. I'm psyched to see what I'll discover along the way, and how I'll grow as a teacher, researcher, and writer. So, if you have tips for starting my thesis---feel free to leave them. If you have Twix bars, dark roast coffee, and New Belgium beer that you'd like to share to help push me through this next year---I'll accept those, too.

1 comment:

Amy said...

If anyone can do it, you can! The hardest part is just starting!!