When I initially finished my PhD proposal, I wrote this lackluster post, but after a month of sitting with my accomplishment I am super proud.
At first I was just sort of ashamed that it took me 2.3 years into my PhD to finish writing my proposal (2.6 if you count my medical leave), but then I realized this is actually a really big accomplishment. First of all, I wrote a proposal just one year into my PhD. It was 2 single-spaced pages that went through 5 rounds of rigorous scientific review and landed me the most prestigious graduate scientific fellowship in this country. I presented a slightly expanded version of that proposal to my committee at the end of my first year. They wanted me to pare down the scope and they wanted a lot more detail. I knew my project was too big and that point and was happy for help focusing it, but many of the details they asked for were actually the whole point of my project.
In order to answer the questions and concerns that my committee laid out to advance during my admittedly kind of weird PhD, I had to do a lot of work up front. So, going into my proposal defence this summer, I’ve got all the data for my PhD and have written out every single step of my methods, including the methods I set out to develop during this project. Now, these methods still need to be programmed and there are still questions to be answered using these methods. There’s still a lot of pain, programming, frustration, teeth gnashing, and twisty, confusing science ahead of me, but I am not a failure for taking 2.3 years to do this. I am a success, and maybe even a little bit of a superhero for having done it with all these migraines.