Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dissertation update, Part 2- A fly on the wall

So here is part 2 of my update. Ever wished you could be the proverbial fly on the wall during a conversation? Well today I was, and it was completely unintentional. I was pumping in my cubby (or playpen as we call it) and I heard 2 familiar voices from my committee. It was then I realized that they were going to be discussing me, because I do not believe that they have any other doc students in common (though I could be wrong!). Now part of me wanted to hear what was being said and part of me really didn't want to hear it. Lucky for me the pump drowned out most of the conversation, but I did catch snatches of it. The basic gist is that my chapter 3 is way too long (like I don't know that?!) and I did a cruddy job with the discussion section and well my writing in general is not up to scratch, and goodness I have too many tables and figures. *sigh* And oh did I mention that I'm way behind my peers/colleagues?

I guess maybe to your eyes (ears?) that doesn't sound too bad, but it's killing me. I am working so hard at this and I feel like I am getting NO support from the academic side (I know I said this before). I know I'm not the best writer, but isn't your committee supposed to help you be a better writer? I won't place all the blame on them, I know I have not been the best communicator, but I'm so tired of feeling like they place all the blame on me. Honestly I don't expect any of them to say hey I'm sorry I haven't been better at supporting you, but a let's sit down and go over this in person would be nice. And yes I know- I SHOULD be the one to say that, but I can't/won't. I'm terrified to meet with them, I don't think I can handle this constant harping, supposed to be constructive criticism any longer. I've had too many meetings these past 5 years where I walk in feeling confident and walk out feeling more than defeated, but stupid. Do you want to meet with someone who makes you feel stupid?

So after I overheard this conversation and I finished pumping I just sat there. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry- I wanted to run into the offices and demand that we go over this once and for all. I'm tired of being talked about. It has been happening the ENTIRE time I have been in this program. I have unintentionally overheard numerous conversations about my poor skills at writing papers, writing test questions and teaching style. Quite honestly I feel like I am the brunt of the jokes of our program, and while I have NO EVIDENCE that this is true, it's just how I feel.

Anyway back to today's conversation, so I just sat there and did nothing, cleaned up my pumping stuff and tried to get back to reading articles. Then I hear a voice call out, "anyone in there?" so I say yes and then I hear a door close as they leave. I'm thinking well, situation avoided, until about 5 minutes later I hear "Is that you?" (referring to me). I said yes and opened our cubby door and found myself face to face about to have the conversation I didn't want to have. I *think* someone may have been embarrassed that I overheard things, but I was honest and said I didn't hear everything- I was pumping, but that yes I could hear some things. I left it vague (maybe that was cowardly of me) and open for said person to take the lead. Things were explained that my chapters were too long (again- I know!), my discussions not substantial enough and that were debates about turning my chapters into journal articles. I can say none of this was surprising, which I guess is a good thing? I just didn't like that it went from that to well this is how your peers/colleagues are doing things and you are behind. I know I'm behind, do people honestly think I don't know I'm behind?! I know that I have ZERO articles published to my name, do you think I'm proud of that?! I'm not....... it makes me cry..... it makes me angry and it makes me very disappointed in myself. Do I need a reminder from an outside source? No thank you! I do think somewhere during this conversation said person was trying to make me feel like I was being supported, in that I wasn't going to have to rewrite my entire chapters 3 & 4, but honestly I don't know.

I wish I hadn't overheard this conversation, or any of the others I have heard. But I have to say it's difficult not to hear things when people have conversations less than 5 feet from your cubby and your cubby doesn't have walls that go to the ceiling- hence you can hear anything said within a large radius. I'm *hoping* that maybe they will be more cautious in discussing me and pitfalls in the future, but who knows. 


  1. Ok, so I don't normally post comments but I saw no choice on this one. A little background first, six years ago I decided I needed to make a change and go back for a degree in CAD and design and while in school we found out we were expecting our first born, and six months into a 2 year program I landed a mediocre job with Baker Hughes. Then I decided to go back again for a bachelors and lo and behold, we found out we were expecting again. This time with Twins!! So here I am working full time and going to school 3 nights a week with a 3 year old at home and a pregnant wife expecting 2 more boys. we had the boys in Sept and on the day they came home I went to walk for my graduation. Somewhere along the way I started following a blog about this crazy lady with multiple kids pursuing her doctorate. I thought there's no way! But I realized if she can do it so can I. Not my doctorate but further education. This year I go for my PMP certification and begin my MBA next spring. Gina you are an inspiration!! You prove that where there's a will there's a way!! Hang in there and best of luck! You motivate people everyday!!

    -Richard M.

    1. Oh and the mediocre job has become an awesome career! In February I went to India for two weeks for work and it was amazing!! Keep on chugging along!

    2. Thanks Richard! Glad to hear that your job has become a career. I was raised to believe that you deserve and need to be happy at your job, so anytime these days I hear someone enjoying their work I am truly happy for them. Congrats on sticking with school, I can't imagine adding paid employment to my schedule......

  2. Keep going. We all feel crap whilst writing a PhD. You must be able to write to have got this far. Personally I think it is amazing you have written so much. Well done!

  3. Wow finally I can comment. Normally your site wouldn't let me. Hey you have four kids, of course you would be behind your work peers- do they have four small kids??? The juggle is hard but doable. Maybe you are a bit slower than others, its the same finish line. I hear and know your pain.

  4. Sorry you had to go through this :( You have always been persistent and you shall get through this too. We are here for you.