The Force, it seems right now, is with me. I sent off my first dissertation chapter this week, and my adviser gave positive marks and helpful remarks–a lot of “add stuff here” or “build on this,” which is much better than “change this,” “dump that,” or “this is horrible; lose it.” I’m waiting to hear back from the other two people on my committee, so all this could change, but I’ll slosh around in these happy vibes for a while. On top of that, I had a great week of brainstorming and outlining the next chapter. I have a pretty detailed eight-page outline and some ideas that are as original and interesting as my little brain can muster. In my headier moments of confidence while preparing the outline, I’ve fancied myself as revolutionizing the field and blowing your minds.
And I’m going to run with it. Sure, the trash compacter will start compressing at any moment, and it’ll take an R2 unit to save my ass from dissertation destruction. But these moments of confidence and enthusiasm are pretty rare when you’re waist-deep in dissertation Death Star refuse. And we need them, grad students, we need them. Not as much as we need hard work, resolution, stick-to-it-ness–that’s the shit that gets you through the shit. But these moments of enthusiasm and inspiration provide a quick reminder of the potential of our work. Times like these remind us that we’re doing this not just to get a job or impress our advisers, but out of some deeper sense that we’re contributing to knowledge and truth. It’s a good feeling. Go with it when you can.