Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram one night, I saw a caption that caught my eye. It read, “Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be. Every season has a purpose.“ Over the past few months I have felt as if something was missing. I blamed a lot of these feelings on changes due to COVID-19. However, after reading an article titled “Surviving the Post-Dissertation Slump,” I discovered the cause of many of the feelings I have had. (Rodwell, 2015).
During the writing of my dissertation, I remember a colleague telling me about “dissertation blues.” Basically, when you finish your dissertation you can become down or anxious because after devoting so much of your daily time and energy to something for so long, it is all of a sudden removed. Writing a dissertation is a labor of love most certainly, but I literally laughed about this. For a full year (after 2 years of coursework), I was awake by 4 in the morning and was up late at night writing, revising, and researching. I knew there was absolutely no way I would miss that. I could not wait to walk across the stage and never take another college course again in my life. Turns out, the joke is on me. Rodwell (2015) explains that students who complete a dissertation are successful at working independently, meeting self-created deadlines, and focusing on the big picture. A dissertation provides a concrete goal; a focus point. Once we achieve the goal of dissertation completion, it can sometimes be challenging to figure out where to go next.
I am not sure if this happens to every doctoral graduate. Perhaps it happens more often to those of us who are an Enneagram 3 - The Achiever (what a great research topic!) Whatever it may be, 2021 is a new opportunity to grow, to focus energy and effort on things that bring joy. It is time to pick up and find the missing piece of my puzzle. I do not know what that missing piece is, but for now I am shifting some daily priorities until I find it. If you’ve had similar experiences, I want to hear from you!
Rodwell, E. (2015, June 25). Surviving the Post-Dissertation Slump [Web log post]. Retrieved January 13, 2021, from https://community.chronicle.com/news/1046-surviving-the-post-dissertation-slump