A DIVORCE Letter to my Dissertation

The power of digital technology allows one to impact others and make connections in sometimes unexpected ways. My “love letter” to my dissertation struck a chord with many and inspired Doreen Hettich-Atkins to write her own “divorce” letter to her dissertation.

The PhD journey is intensely personal, but there are always unspoken common experiences that anyone who has undertaken this process goes through.  Here’s an alternate take on that journey:

Dear Dissertation:

I wanted to write a letter to you to let you know that I want a divorce.   We spent 3 years together plus another 2 after the separation.   It’s just not going to work out.

At first, it was exciting to be with you. The late nights cuddled on the couch reading together, the intellectual conversations, the dreams of a future filled with fame and fortune.

We certainly had our rough times as well. Those times when our parents questioned our methods. Those weeks where we just couldn’t find time for each other. The questions we received from friends who wondered if our relationship was worth all the trouble.

Slowly, and almost without noticing, the excitement seemed to fade. The questions we once strove to answer became uninteresting, and, dare I say it, irrelevant. The time and money we were spending trying to make the relationship work just weren’t helping. And sadly, I don’t believe that those who were supposed to be there to support us even recognized when we were gone.

I found someone else. I took a new job. My family commitments grew. That left me with less and less time and money to share with you.

I realize that in making this decision, I am condemning myself to a life without your glorious last name, PhD, and will instead be forever with my maiden name, ABD. At this point in my life and career, however, I think that’s OK. I have other commitments more pressing and don’t really have room in my life for a relationship with you right now.

Maybe when these commitments change, I’ll rethink this relationship. I hope you’ll be waiting for my return when I’m ready. But for now, I must bid you a sorrowful adieu. I will watch with glee as friends and colleagues are able to have a happy and productive relationship with others like you. Who knows, perhaps we will give it another try in the future.


All But Dissertation

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