The PhD Journey – Part one



{Cue the horror movie music}

Nah, I’m kidding.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been rough, but I’ve honestly learned more about myself during these past five years than I knew in a lifetime before I began.  So I’m thankful, because everything happens for a reason (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

This is going to be the first of several posts dealing with this subject, because it is an ongoing journey (I’m currently in the midst of my dissertation, setbacks and all) so as I continue I’ll keep posting.  I’m also going to try really really hard to not complain.  But I’m human,  so I’ll probably complain.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is, I do not like asking for help.  I have, in the past, had a serious struggle with imperfection. Which is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to getting a doctorate, or life in general.  But, I’m learning that asking for help isn’t me being inadequate, or incapable.  It’s being human.  

I was raised in a very very strict household where what my parents said was what it was.  I learned not to question my parents early on because, well, that’s how peace was kept and that’s how you show respect as a child.  You must also understand that my parents are born and raised Togolese (a teeny tiny country on the African West Coast) so that’s how their families taught them and they didn’t know any differently.  I kind of appreciate it because they kept me on a relatively straight and narrow, private Catholic school path, (of course, I deviated every now and then, but we won’t tell anyone) and I wouldn’t be so driven to push beyond my own boundaries if it wasn’t for them.  They taught me that anything is possible and if I want to do something, be the best at it.  On the other hand, as so many things in life, it has been a double-edged sword.

Think of it like this.  What type of person hires someone to edit their manuscript, and pours over it before submitting it to make sure that it’s perfect?  Or, if something is not done in an absolutely perfect way, wanting to just give up?  Or, spending 12 continuous hours on one problem because I have to solve it?  Yeah, that’s me.  The tragic perfectionist.

I truly believe in the metaphysical principle of a spiritual realm, and coming to the Earth plane to learn tough lessons.  It’s pretty ironic that someone who is such a perfectionist would be on a journey like this that has been so perfectly imperfect.  I couldn’t even begin to describe all of the setbacks, disappointments, struggles, self criticism, and tears that have come with this journey.  But like I said, I’m thankful. I’m learning that perfection doesn’t exist.  To keep striving for an unattainable goal instead of finding contentment in the process, shifting perspective, and learning to appreciate the journey is setting yourself up for failure.  

I think that we face the exact challenges we need to go through, to let go of the traits in us that hold us back the most. Like Morgan Freeman said in Bruce Almighty, when you ask for something, does God give it to you or does he give you the opportunity to get it yourself?  I figure, I probably couldn’t learn to let go of my perfectionist habits any other way.

And I’m thankful.



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