Oh, remember that time when I said I was ready to turn in and defend a dissertation proposal?
Well, as the time drew nearer to defend my proposal, it became clear from my committee's feedback that I was definitely not ready. I also felt increasing misgivings about my ability to accomplish everything that needed to happen prior to my defense. After several discussions with my committee, it became very clear that I needed to re-run my disastrous summer pilot study during a regular fall semester. The good news is that my writing wasn't totally in vain, though it will require revisions. So many revisions...
I can't say that I was initially ecstatic at the thought of pushing things back. In my eyes, that would be a failure on my part. However, as my stress level increased (to the point of multiple teary breakdowns thanks to exhaustion), I accepted that this was, in my dad's words, a set-back. I've never been a person who readily accepted set-backs. I blame myself for them and (surprise!) often take them personally. At first, I felt crushed by my inability to finish everything on my original schedule and my confidence was severely shaken by the stress of it all. I'm still not at 100%, but I'm working on getting back to normal.
My new challenge has been to move forward, working to carry out a new and improved pilot study. I'm also auditing a class to improve my knowledge of some important theoretical constructs. I'll also be writing some more. My original proposal was actually too long and was missing some important components, hence the audited class.
Several of my grad school colleagues have expressed their condolences on my pushed-back dissertation defense. But do you know what? I can honestly say that I'm glad things have worked out this way. If all goes well, I'll defend a proposal that I'm pleased with in December. That's not to say that it isn't going to be difficult, but this time I really think I can do it.