When can I say I did it?

I finally finished my research proposal the other day. I should be celebrating, but I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment or even relief. Perhaps that’s because it’s not really done. I’ll get comments back from my supervisor, then do some edits, then get her approval to send it on to my committee, then get their comments, then make more edits, then get their stamp of approval and final recommendations before I can call the proposal done. Then I’ve got to actually do the work.

Or maybe I don’t feel like celebrating because I’m so focused on all the things I worry are wrong with my proposal, all the holes I’m afraid my committee will poke in it, all the things I didn’t include in it, that I can’t see its strengths.

Or maybe it’s because I’m realizing how hard it’s going to be do actually do this stuff I’m proposing.

Or maybe it’s because I’m sick and I’m afraid that’s going to keep me from succeeding.

I may not feel like celebrating, but it took me 2.5 years and a lot of migraines to get to this point. My project asks a question no one has ever asked before and uses some darn clever strategies to get around some cold, hard facts of hard-to-measure ecology. Maybe my committee will find a fatal flaw. Maybe it’ll go spectacularly wrong. But that hasn’t happened yet and so I’m going to celebrate. I may not feel like I’ve achieved something, but I have.