Call Me Dr Scamp

That’s right. I am now a doctor. 4 years of blood, sweat and tears. 4 years of edits, research, interviews and data analysis. 4 years of projects, jobs, networking and conferences. 4 years of hard work. I’m not sure how I did it, but I survived the process and might just be a better person for it.

The viva was a gruelling process. I had gotten sick the week before and went through the viva with a fever and no voice. My examiners hated my thesis….and I am not exaggerating. They told me it reads like a jumbled, confused mess and it was hard to figure out what my original contribution to knowledge was. They did not understand the way I positioned my work in relation to the literature. They told me I have six months to rewrite it or they have the right to change their mind.

I am not ashamed to say that I cried in the middle of the viva. I was horribly ill and felt like crap, but I was also so upset that all of the things that the examiners hated about my thesis are the things I battled against with my supervisor….the same supervisor who was not in the room to hear that he had screwed up my work. The same supervisor who decided that I was not worth his time when I sent an email saying that I was upset that his lack of planning for the scheduling the viva could cost me my job. I was also very embarrassed. The examiners don’t know how badly I struggled. They don’t know how much of the thesis was dictated to me by said horrible supervisor. They only read the product of a less than stellar time….and the only name on the work is mine. I am the one who looks like I turned in horrible work. I am the one who now has to rewrite it in 6 months.

That’s not to say that the examiners were wrong though. That work is a jumbled mess that is a product of my experience. The feedback they gave me will make my thesis a better piece of work. It will also allow me the chance to discuss my work in the way that I want to. I have a better message and have really good things to say, and now I get to say them. My due date for resubmission is on my grammy’s birthday. I am taking that as a sign of good luck.

The only downside of this is that I still have a lot of work to do, more so now because I have a full-time job. I am having a hard time separating my bitterness about the last four years and the rewrite that I need to do. It has been more than a month and I have barely made any progress. That, in turn, is stressing me out….which is not helping the writing.

On the bright side, finishing the PhD means that I was able to book a ticket back to California for Christmas. I get to see my favourite people for a whole month. I am thinking that the change of environment and the time with my family will help me tackle the PhD as well. I have not seen my family in almost three years or been in California, so to say that I am excited about this is an understatement. I cannot wait to see how my parents have changed the cabin they now live in, I can’t wait to finally meet my nephew in person, and I cannot wait to sit around a table with my siblings while we play games, drink beer and tell each other to fuck off while we laugh so hard our sides hurt. I can’t wait to drive a car again.

I can’t wait for all the yummy Mexican food.

And mojo. Hopefully, I can find my mojo. I’m still looking for it.

The Scamp has Imposter Sydrome

One of the worst things you can do when you are sick is google your symptoms….except for that one time WebMD said I probably had Lupus.

I digress. The worst thing that you can do is google your symptoms because chances are the internet is going to tell you that you are dying within three months. Last week I went to a department-sponsored lunchtime lecture on the notion of Imposter Syndrome. This pesky problem is the feelings of inadequacy that can cause a person to believe they are not worthy of their position and live in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Until last week, I did not count myself among the countless academics that suffer from IS. I have always felt that I am a good little academic research monkey who belong in higher education. I would like to think that I am a good teacher, and that my students are getting the most from me.

Now, I am not so sure. I am two weeks behind schedule with my writing and I am terrified of sending the drafts that I have to my team because I am sure that they are going to tell me that they suck and aren’t worthy of a PhD. I’ve never actually gotten this far in the PhD process, so I am not sure how to handle this little valley of shit that I find myself in.

It sucks.

At the end of the month, I am turning in an application to become a teaching fellow in the Higher Education Academy. I was going to apply for associate fellow because the university doesn’t offer me teaching opportunities, but have decided to aim big and use the rest of the teaching I do to help justify the award. I am going to do a 45-minute presentation of how great I am and hope that after that they decide that I am worthy of the award. This whole time I have felt like it was easy to provide examples that demonstrate my teaching and assessment skills, but not so much this week.

Now I am wondering if I let the ‘fake til you make it’ philosophy give me a sense of overconfidence and if I really should be worried about how good my chances are for the award. I don’t like this feeling. I like feeling confident, like knowing that I am capable of doing all the work that is in front of me.

But, on the upside, it is nice to know I am not alone in these feelings.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I can’t remember if I did one for week four, and technically it is the start of week 6, but 5 is my favourite number, so I am going to do week 5 now and week 6 later in the week.

I like the challenge for week 5. I get to spend my time discussing one good thing from last week.

Easy. My visa and passports came back. I am now nice and legal again. The photo on my visa makes me laugh. It is awful. I look dead. But it makes me laugh, and it guarantees that when I have to show it at checkpoints and to the uni, people will think I am that much more attractive. I can live with that. It means I can start planning a quick weekend away somewhere around my birthday since I can’t make it to California this year.

I was also able to keep all of my jobs. Now if one f them could turn into something permanent I’d be even happier.

The rest of this month is going to be a blur of writing up the results of my thesis and conducting interviews for the department research project. I really love the project lead. She asked me first since I am supposed to be based out of the office and is going out of her way to find ways to keep me employed. I’m not sure she will be able to find the funding to keep me around, but the fact that she is willing to do that for me means a lot. I’m excited for the project to begin and I really hope that some good things can come from it. I am fast approaching the end to my 30th year, and while it did not quite go as planned, I am hoping that I can get a lot done this month and start 31 on a sure path to finishing my PhD. July will be here before I know it and I am still about 50,000 words short of where I need/want to be.

Not that I am freaking out about that or anything. No. Not at all.

I sat down with my supervisor today to go over the statistics, and he was really great and showing me what needed to be done and writing up the first part with me, so I think I am all set now to do the first part of my results chapter. The goal is to have this chapter written by the end of February, and with four jobs, I am not sure when it is going to get done…..but it will get done.

The Scamp Crosses One off the List

I have now crossed number 11 off my list! Yesterday I emailed a draft of my methodology chapter to my supervisors. I think it is pretty solid for a first draft, and I know that there are a lot of drafts to come before it is done, but I am pretty happy with how it came out. It also means that I have some words on the page in time for the halfway point of my programme. I’m going to celebrate this moment with a cookie.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp Walks a Fine Line

Positivity is not my strong suit. I’m a glass half empty, bird shit on the face, permanent bad day kinda gal. It is something I am trying to work on it, but struggle a bit when life throws me some curve balls. At the end of this week I have my 6 month review and determination of title for my PhD. I have been feeling pretty great about the work I have been able to do so far, but I am still a little nervous about presenting it to my supervisors and my new external chair. I still have a little doctoral program PTSD, and I am in a constant worry that I am going to screw up my chances here the way I screwed up in Fullerton.

I am starting to feel the effects of the fear in a big way.

I was hired to be the first educational pedagogy PhD at the university. Along with the PhD, I was going to run a university wide project to help update and improve the assessment and feedback practices of the degree granting programs. I thought I would be able to pull data from the project to use for my own research, and be able to do both tasks in well balanced harmony. Long story short, I was told that someone more senior than me needed to be in charge of the project, but as the resident TESTA expert, I would have a role to play in the project, and be there to offer guidance and support. I have strong feelings for the project and what can be done with a fresh approach to feedback, but my ego is also healthy enough to not have to be “the leader”. I understand the underlying politics that go along with a university-wide project, and my position as someone who is not quite an employee, but not quite a member of staff in the Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement (I know, I work for a department called DOLT….when I started 6 months ago was ASPEN, which I was way more fond of). Now that the project is underway, it has become more apparent than ever that I do not have a strong presence yet on campus.

I have been trying to walk the fine line between standing up for what I want to do, and playing the political game. I am so traumatized with what happened at CSUF that I have almost become a doormat. I’m not being treated fairly, and because I am not trying to rock the boat, I have not been speaking up. In a meeting today, when I was disrespected in a room full of important people at the university, I didn’t correct the insult. I’m so afraid to make waves, so afraid that I am going to repeat the mistakes of last year, that I am in serious danger of becoming a doormat. Finding the right balance is hard, and trying not to equate this program with the program from hell is even harder.

Luckily I have some amazing friends who let me talk out out my feelings, a manpanion who celebrated my victories with me, and a mommy who is not afraid to give me a gentle kick in the ass to get off the floor and stand up for myself.  I’m really the luckiest girl in the world. It is nice to be reminded of that when I am trying to stay out of the dark and twisty.