I feel like I’ve been on one of those merry-go-round rides at the park. Not the ones you pay for, the ones like the picture below, that you can spin as fast as you want. I was never good with these rides – I had huge problems with motion sickness as a kid. But, I remember the feeling of stumbling off these and not really knowing which direction was forward, or backwards, or right side up.
I feel the same way recently about my actual path through grad school. Early this year, no matter how much of a disaster much of the semester seemed, I felt like I knew what I was doing. Where I needed to be, and what I needed to do to get there. And it helped me keep it together when things seemed to be going in all directions.
However, now that I’m running (or have finished, for now) my experiment, I’m spinning around and around again, as I try to find my way. I know, from preliminary analysis of the results, that we have some good results, some bad results, and some results that are making us re-think parts of our experimental design. I also know, that it’s about 95% sure that I will be unable to get a large pool of participants until this fall. Which means, even coming up with plans for how to proceed on the experiment front wont provide ‘closure’ anytime soon. As I’ll have to wait to run it and get the data.
And so I’m back to needing to come up with an answer to the large and looming question of “what’s next.” A question that annoys me to know end, because it’s what my dad would say constantly growing up – after anything had finished. We would have just finished dinner and he’d be saying “what’s next?” or coming back from a vacation “what’s next?” Ahhh!
So, this week, I will have another meeting with my supervisor, even though we met recently. And I’m suppose to show up with an answer to this question. I’m hoping, that magically, it’ll appear in front of me. But, I also know, realistically, that it won’t. So, this week is going to be dedicated to once again coming up with ideas, tearing them apart, and hoping that a new one rises from the ashes. And if one doesn’t, that I have enough of a thought or a flicker of an idea that can possibly turn into an actual direction during our meeting.
And I hope so, so much, because I’m getting really sick of spinning. I hate feeling unstable and having no clue whats coming. I also am not looking forward to spending the rest of my summer trying to come up with an idea, instead of actually making progress. Because once the fall rolls around, and I have access to a large pool of participants again, I’d love to have more than just one study ready.
And, mostly, because I’m ready to feel like I’m on stable ground again.