By Shahrzad Sadighim
Executive Homunculus: Alright. It’s Friday and we got the whole day free. Let’s make some headway on doc paper
The Part of Myself That Doesn’t Want to Work on Doc Paper : No.
EH: Why not?
TPOMTDWTWODP: I don’t want to.
EH: But why?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Just don’t.
EH: Think about it: there’s so much free time this year, and we can actually dedicate ourselves to this thing. We’ll be working full time next year, and you’ll wish we had finished it.
TPOMTDWTWODP: It’ll get done before then.
EH: How? We’ve barely made progress in the past six months. How will it get done?
TPOMTDWTWODP: It just will.
EH: That’s magical thinking. Look, just put in two hours today. That’s it. Just get something rough on a Word document. We can always go back and revise it later.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know where to start. There’s so much.
EH: Well, we’ve already done some reading, so let’s just start writing the lit review.
TPOMTDWTWODP: There’s so much more to read. You’ve just scratched the surface.
EH: Fine, then let’s find and read a few more articles.
TPOMTDWTWODP: But when will we know when to stop? There is so much on shame out there. You can never read all of it… Doesn’t this remind you of the futility of existence?
EH: No. Come on, let’s hop on PsycInfo. 3 articles.
TPOMTDWTWODP: I gotta clean our room first.
EH: No, you d-
TPOMTDWTWODP: And the living room, the baseboards haven’t been cleaned in ages.
EH: You can do that later. Just do two hours of this and then we can do whatever you want.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Wait, don’t we have an assessment report due this week? That’s more urgent, let’s do that first.
EH: It’s not due until Wednesday, and I’m sure we’ll get it done. Whereas this…
TPOMTDWTWODP: Alright, how about this: we do the assessment report today, and then starting next week, it’s doc paper town all the way. By then we won’t have to think about the report, and there will be nothing else to do, and I’ll want to do it. It’ll be great.
EH: Has that ever worked?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Just because it hasn’t before doesn’t mean it won’t this time…
EH: Talk to me here, what’s this really about?
TPOMTDWTWODP: What if we picked the wrong topic?
EH: Why do you think that?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Because it’s hard. If I were passionate about what we were doing, it wouldn’t be hard. I would want to work on it all the time.
EH: That’s not t-
TPOMTDWTWODP: Also, I don’t know how to conduct research. I’m a PsyD, for Pete’s sake.
EH: It’s not rocket science. We know how to do this; you need to trust that. And we can talk to our committee, or read up on CQR, or just look at some other qualitative articles.
TPOMTDWTWODP: That’s a lot of work. I shouldn’t have to do this much work.
EH: You really should. We’re earning a doctorate.
TPOMTDWTWODP: No one else is taking this long. You take forever to do everything.
EH: You probably have something to do with that. We got this: it’s a thirty page paper, not a full dissertation. It’s really not going to take that long.
TPOMTDWTWODP: That’s just the point: if it’s not a dissertation, and I won’t get to say I wrote a dissertation, then why do it?
EH: Well because you have to, and because shame is a topic you’re passionate about, and you might learn a lot doing this project.
TPOMTDWTWODP: I mean yeah, I guess I am passionate about it, but are we really going to be contributing that much to the field with our dinky qualitative research with grad students? Such conceit, it’s embarrassing to even try.
EH: One might say…shameful?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Yeah, ok.
EH: But that’s research: everyone contributes something small and specific, but the aggregate is something much greater. Besides, this is our first real research project. Just do it to learn about the process.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Fine, but what if I’m not actually interested in this topic?
EH: We’ve been through this.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Oh. Right. Ok, but what if this isn’t the topic I’m like, most interested in?
EH: Do you have any other ideas?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Well, no. But like, what if it turns out that there is some topic out there that I’m so passionate about, that it won’t feel like work at all, and it’ll just come pouring out of me…
EH: You know it doesn’t work that way. It’s just a 30 page paper. We have the rest of our career to do more substantial research…
TPOMTDWTWODP: Ok, fine. But even though it’s short, can I make it good?
EH: Of course!
TPOMTDWTWODP: Like, really good?
TPOMTDWTWODP: Like, so good that I find a way to do a lit review that manages to cover everything there is out there about shame, and the language is super precise, and there isn’t one superfluous word, and the whole thing flows like nothing has ever flowed before and—
EH: You’re getting carried away again. This kind of pressure is what makes this hard to do this in the first place. Good enough is good enough; just get ‘er done.
TPOMTDWTWODP: So what you’re saying is, put in the least amount of effort that we can get away with?
EH: Nope. Something in the middle of those two extremes.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Oh. But I don’t like the middles.
EH: I know you don’t.
TPOMTDWTWODP: So let’s wait until next week, so that we can resolve my aversion to moderation in therapy first.
EH: Come on.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Or at least like, let’s journal about it today, and start tomorrow.
EH: Work first, journal later.
TPOMTDWTWODP: What’s in it for me?
EH: Just think of how good we’ll feel in two hours if we start now.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Eh, no deal.
EH: Fine. A hunk of Gruyere and two episodes of Girls.
TPOMTDWTWODP: House of Cards.
EH: You got it.
TPOMTDWTWODP: Alright, let me just make a doc paper playlist first.
TPOMTDWTWODP: For the record, I still don’t really want to do this.
Me: I know. It’s okay.