I finally completed a rough, rough draft of my dissertation.
I wanted to feel more excited about this, more elated, more relieved.
Instead, I just feel disappointed by just how incomplete, how rough this draft is.
It could be so much more than it is.
I could have worked on it so much more.
I could have… well, whatever. I didn’t.
Now I’m waiting for feedback from my chair and getting ready to move back to a city I haven’t lived in for six years. It will feel strangely familiar, just as all places do once we have some distance from them.
I’ve been in a state of exhausted anxiety for the past several months. And I’ve felt a bit disoriented and lost, because what was supposed to be my last year of graduate school didn’t quite work out that way.
But tonight I took a walk in the late summer night and listened to The Julie Ruin and Bikini Kill and felt something of my fight and feistiness coming back, because I can’t help but feel some kind of something every time I hear “Right Home” and “Rebel Girl.”
I’m remembering a mantra I learned when I meditated with the zen buddhists up in Lawrence, KS:
You are not entitled to the fruits of your labor, only to the labor.
Focus on the work, not the result. This has been immensely helpful for me, because I’ve developed such a complicated relationship with the idea of graduate school, and the academy. I feel little love for my graduate program, and I’m honestly not that attached to the idea of the degree at this point. It’s a means to an end. Because of that, it’s difficult to keep the motivation to continue.
I do love my work. My teaching, my research, my writing. I love my dissertation. It’s a project I care about, and that I think has worth and merit.
So, for me the mantra tells me to focus on that, to focus on the labor, not the fruits that are supposed to come from it. Not the disappointments that come from it, or the successes, but just the labor.
And that, for now, is enough.