Nervous about dissertation subject

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necroluciferia
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10 Nov 2010, 10:55 am

I am doing my dissertation and am on one hand feeling really positive about it - I have been reading lots of stuff on the subject, it's something I'm really interested in and it's a bit of an obsession for me of late.

My friend is an absolute expert on the subject I have chosen - it's something he's been into for like 20 years (he's about 15 years older than me, which I forget until times like this) he has quite a few contacts and has given me some good advice and stuff. The problem is that I feel incredibly intimidated by his knowledge, I feel like no matter what I think I will be wrong. I have to interview people for my project and at the back of my mind I keep thinking that I'll be asking the wrong questions and won't be as good as what my friend would ask on the subject because my knowledge is so poor in comparison (he actually said to me that he wanted to see the questions I had before putting me in contact with someone, I guess because he suspects I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about). It's really got me feeling very nervous, and I can't help but feel like my friend is laughing at me behind my back for even trying.

I don't know what to do, or if I'm being paranoid but it doesn't feel like it. I don't want to NOT do the project as it's what I want to do, but I can't shake these thoughts of inadequacy. :?



Stinkypuppy
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11 Nov 2010, 2:22 pm

necroluciferia wrote:
I am doing my dissertation and am on one hand feeling really positive about it - I have been reading lots of stuff on the subject, it's something I'm really interested in and it's a bit of an obsession for me of late.

My friend is an absolute expert on the subject I have chosen - it's something he's been into for like 20 years (he's about 15 years older than me, which I forget until times like this) he has quite a few contacts and has given me some good advice and stuff. The problem is that I feel incredibly intimidated by his knowledge, I feel like no matter what I think I will be wrong. I have to interview people for my project and at the back of my mind I keep thinking that I'll be asking the wrong questions and won't be as good as what my friend would ask on the subject because my knowledge is so poor in comparison (he actually said to me that he wanted to see the questions I had before putting me in contact with someone, I guess because he suspects I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about). It's really got me feeling very nervous, and I can't help but feel like my friend is laughing at me behind my back for even trying.

I don't know what to do, or if I'm being paranoid but it doesn't feel like it. I don't want to NOT do the project as it's what I want to do, but I can't shake these thoughts of inadequacy. :?


Hi Necroluciferia,

I remember when I submitted my dissertation earlier this year, I was a bit nervous and fearful that the faculty readers would judge me personally for any professional shortcomings I may present in the dissertation... so while I can definitely understand what you're going through, I also know that it's especially harder and more nerve-wracking when those people are your friends, i.e. people you actually care about personally!! There are two main things you could do in your situation:

1) Try to shrug off the feelings of inadequacy and continue to consult your friend for help on your dissertation. After all, it is a lot more useful and productive if you focus on comparing yourself to how you used to be, rather than comparing yourself to your friend. Education should be about improving oneself, and not so much about making you as good or better than others. In the ideal scenario your friend is just trying to be helpful. However you'd have to be largely successful in shrugging off your self-doubts, and this can be incredibly difficult to accomplish.

2) Don't get help from your friend, but rather from other people knowledgeable in your field, people who pretty much only know you on a more impersonal, professional level. You may get better feedback on your dissertation if you consult multiple experts in the field, to help iron out any biases and preferred analytical methods any one expert may have compared to another expert. This will ultimately improve the quality of the dissertation. However you'd have to be comfortable asking other people, potentially strangers, for help.

... or you could possibly do a bit of #1 and a bit of #2, perhaps something like getting help from your friend only up to a certain point.

Good luck! No matter how things turn out, just remember that dissertations are tough things for everybody. Even the mere act of attempting one is quite a challenge, and anyone willing to go out of one's comfort zone to stretch one's personal limits deserves two thumbs up, at least in my book. 8)


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