When I applied to LSE for my LLM, I applied with a relatively clear theme in my mind about what I would want my dissertation to be about, maybe not the exact topic but definitely what I wanted to attempt to say about the world. One year, one term and a pandemic later, and I am struggling.
The world that I had wanted to write my dissertation in doesn’t exist anymore. Everything that I had thought needs to now be revaluated, reassessed, re-researched. If that wasn’t enough, I ended up taking a class that I didn’t originally plan on taking and ended up absolutely loving it, so much so that I am now even contemplating a future in that field!
Do I now just re-evaluate my topic and try and contextualise it in today’s pandemic ridden times or do I just go with something new? The road that I have stumbled upon by some stroke of serendipity (or my Wi-Fi failing me when I had to pick my graduate courses)? This dilemma has now led me to my current path of self-exploration. And by that, I mean dissertation exploration (but honestly is there a difference)?
Somedays it’s hard to find things to be grateful for but I am definitely grateful for mentors and resource guides and libraries and books and Twitter. For now, my path of solving my dissertation dilemma has involved taking to my academic mentor, sending frantic vague emails to my professors in the middle of the night asking for their opinion on academic articles, attending more LSE LIFE sessions then I probably should, pouring over previous dissertations that people before me painstakingly wrote and setting up appointments with student advisors.
The point being, if you are struggling with your dissertation topic, you’re not the only one. More importantly there is help, plenty of it! From interactive sessions with alumni, to conversations with PhD students and help from the Library staff, to study retreats and more. There are resources and people willing to go out of their way to help out. You just have to make the best use of them and not let yourself get overwhelmed with the process. After all, anything worthwhile doing definitely takes time.
Have I resolved my dissertation dilemma yet? No. But I know I will get by and get through it with a little (or a lot) of help!