One of the others in this group is a colleague of mine from my academic department in SCT, and she's serving as one of my peer reviewers for my dissertation. Peer reviewing is part of the validation process that researchers use when conducting qualitative research. In a nutshell, she will read my data analysis and we'll have discussions about how I'm coming to the conclusions I'm reaching. If she doesn't see what I'm seeing in the data, then it's up to me either to explain to her where I'm seeing it, or to consider her advice and modify the conclusion I've reached. I've actually asked three of my colleagues to serve in this capacity, and I've been looking forward to getting to the point where I can run things by them. Well, that process started happening last Saturday night.
Peer Reviewer 1 asked me how things were going at our dinner, and before we left I sat down and tried to give her the overview. This was tough for me, as it was the first time I had verbalized any results of the study to anyone other than Wife. Even when I would speak about it with Wife, my words felt cryptic at best. The other couples listened in (tough not to do that evening, as there were only six of us plus a baby), so I felt like I really had to have my shit together for the first time.
In some ways I was just a blithering idiot, but in others I think this was a healthy exercise to endure. And, it's high time I'm at this point. I mean geez. This is my seventh year as a doc student.
Even though I felt like a withering plant during this discussion, trying to get enough water to survive a drought, Peer Reviewer 1 and her husband (both professors now) said afterward that they thought the results were really interesting and that I should focus on getting something published from these data when all is said and done. That took my surprise - good surprise. I respect the opinion of this couple a great deal. I felt I really didn't have my words together very well, and yet I guess I was able to convey my thoughts well enough that others could understand what the hell I was trying to say.
Here's the thing: If they "got it" when my words were at such a primary level, then I think the process of telling the story of my 14 participants may actually, dare I say, turn out to be easy. Easy? I shudder to use that word. I shudder because I guess that I've had it drilled into me that only something rigorous and difficult is worthy of dissertation work. On the other hand, I suppose that if this were seven years ago when I started this doctoral process, I probably would consider this to be difficult. Maybe it's getting easier because I've been doing it for a long time. I guess this is supposed to happen.
OK, back to Saturday night. When Wife and I were driving home, I shared some of these thoughts with her like:
"It was too easy...I must be doing something wrong," I said.
BUMP BUMP. That was the sound of Wife hitting her head against the window (figuratively, not literally!), incredulous when listening to these words.
"I don't know when you're going to realize that none of this appears very easy to me," she said. "You are doing good work. When are you going to realize that? Will you recover from this impostor syndrome sometime soon?" I'm paraphrasing here. Some of these words went unsaid, but so much of the story was told in her facial expression, a combination of exasperation and sympathy that only a wife could have for a her husband (that's a compliment).
"Sorry. I don't know. I mean, yeah, I think I'll get over it soon," I said, with the world seeming to spin around.
I suppose this was a really good first experience with finally breaking that barrier of bringing these conclusions out in the open with people who's work I respect to no end. I'm just sorry my wife has to see me go through all this emotion to develop my personality as a researcher, or I dare say as a scholar. But the combination of her holding in frustration (well usually, haha) while still encouraging me along is something that helps me stay focused on moving forward.
Bottom line: I probably wouldn't have come this far if it were for you, Sweetie. Thank you (smooch).