Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Endurance: The Marathon Metaphor

Writing a dissertation has got to be about one of the most demoralizing (yet invigorating) experiences we'll ever endure. It's hard, hard, hard work. "Endure" is a good word. It's not as if the work is so horrible that it must be "endured" (the negative connotation), but completing a Ph.D. is a test in endurance . . . a marathon of sorts (yes, a tired metaphor, but I'm tired). :-)

One cannot complete a marathon in just a few minutes . . . for even the fastest runners, the most insanely in-shape individuals in the world, it takes hours. Not everyone who attempts to run a marathon can run it; some walk, some don't finish. However, if we keep planting one foot in the front of the other, keep moving forward, we'll eventually finish that marathon. We may not run the race in record time, and we may have to walk, crawl, or stumble to the finish line. But we'll finish. At the end, those marathon medals look the same for everyone.

In a similar way, writing a dissertation is something that can't be accomplished in just a few weeks. For many of us, depending upon other responsibilities and other factors, completing a dissertation takes a year . . . or two . . . or three. If we keep writing one page after another page, eventually we'll get it done. We may mope and cry and wail on the way, but we'll get there . . . running, walking, stumbling. We'll get there. That ribbon at the end? That Ph.D.? It's the same for us all . . . no matter how quickly (or not) we got to the end.


Hootah said...

Wow Billie. I really needed to hear that. I've got three weeks until I defend and I'm that runner fifty yards from the finish, sputtering on the sidelines, crouched over and holding her side. I'm wincing. I'm wailing. Truly. But once I catch my breath I'll start to jog again.

Hootah said...

Me again. I just printed your post and put it on the wall of my work space as a reminder to keep moving.

Bionic-Woman said...

Billie: thanks for an eloquent post.
PS: i sort of know how you feel hootah