Dissertation Help Tips

Self-Doubt and Your Dissertation: A Lesson from Mister Rogers

by | Apr 21, 2021 | 0 comments

Are you still struggling to finish your dissertation? Do you sometimes wonder if you will EVER finish it? EVERYONE struggles with self-doubt.

I caught a headline recently that led me to a New York Times article about Fred Rogers. The show began in 1968. Yet in 1979 – after he had already achieved worldwide recognition and was a daily fixture for many American children – he typed the memo to himself on yellow legal paper as shown below (courtesy of The Fred Rogers Company).

Mister Rogers self-doubt

Yes – Fred Rogers actually wrote, “Am I kidding myself that I’m able to write a script again? … I wonder? … Why don’t I trust myself?” It’s hard to imagine that Fred Rogers doubted his ability to write a script!

If Fred Rogers doubted himself — despite his legendary positivity — then should you be surprised that you doubt yourself?

Yet embedded in this memo to himself is some typical Mister Rogers wisdom: “If I don’t get down to it, I’ll never really know… I wonder if every creative artist goes through the tortures of the damned trying to create?”

Then he urges himself, “GET TO IT, FRED. GET TO IT. But don’t let anybody ever tell anybody else that it was easy.”

As a doctoral scholar, you know that writing a dissertation isn’t easy. I’d purport that it’s a few orders of magnitude more challenging than writing a script for a children’s TV show (no offense intended to Mister Rogers).

If it were easy, then everybody would do it. You are NOT everybody. You are not just anybody. You are a scholar. You’ve made it this far. In the words of Mister Rogers, “GET TO IT!”


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