Dr. Marvette Lacy Ph.D., (she/her) is the founder and CEO of Qual Scholars where she helps higher education folks finish their dissertations and start a profitable consulting business.
In this week’s episode, Marvette goes over how to identify where you need the most support during your dissertation process and how to find that support. Dr. Lacy also goes over how to actually ask for and accept the help you need without guilt in order to finish your dissertation.
Hey, Hey, welcome back to a new week. Y’all I hope you are having an amazing day. I hope that you are staying safe inside, and you are doing things to fill up your cup because new year, new you. And I just keep thinking back to every school year, especially in the doc process. I’m like this is going to be my year. I’m going to have it all together. And then three weeks into the semester, I’m like, Nope, we’re already done. It’s I’m already, I’m already overwhelmed and checked out. And so I just want to invite you to reevaluate where you are ask yourself, what is it that you need in this moment and asking yourself, how can you do one thing right now to fill up your cup? And if it’s listening to this episode, you’re welcome. Um, but no, in all seriousness, I hope that you can do something to fill up your cup because like, we still got a lot, like we got a long way to go. And, um, that’s what it means to practice consistent self-care is to constantly be thinking about how can you fill up your cup. Now, this episode is not about self care, but that was just your friendly reminder.
Filling in the advisor gaps:
And we are going to round off this series of talking about your advisor today. And I want to talk to you about if your advisor is not your end all be all. Like we talked about last episode. And if you are now going to have consistent communication with them, but it’s going to be more structured like we talked about in the first episode of the series, how do you then fill in the gaps for support in between advisor meetings and while you’re holding space for you know that your advisor is a whole human now y’all will hear some construction outside. I couldn’t do nothing about it. I can control it. The people just loud, hopefully it’s not picking up on the microphone, but just in case, I just wanted to say tha.t I want you to think about like in the same spirit of filling up your cup, what do you need in terms of other people to help you fill up your cup. Now before some of y’all are like, I don’t need people. I could do this by myself. Here’s the thing. As humans, we are not meant to do anything alone. We’re not meant We’re not meant to do anything by ourselves. And so even through this dissertation process and this doctoral journey, how can you continue to set yourself up for success by putting people around you, as you’re like hy, your hype squad, like your community, like your community, your care team. That’s what I’m looking for. Like as your care team. And I am going to suggest a few groups of people to get you started.
What kind of relationship do you have with you?:
But first it’s going to come down to the relationship that you have with yourself and what you know about yourself. Now, what I want you to do is I want you to think about who you are now, who you wish you would be now, who you have the potential to be. But in this moment, in this season of life, who are you and what do you need? Right? So if you’re someone, for instance, who is starting their proposal, and you’ve decided to start with chapter two, what type of human support do you need? Right? Like, is it more important for you to have someone to write with? Is it more important for you to have someone who can help you through the literature review step by step? Is it someone who is just their job is simply to check in, to hold you accountable to the goals that you’ve written down for yourself. Just see what comes up. Like just as a random, like not random, but as an open question to bring up, what type of things come to mind when you think of support? Do you need someone to feed you and make sure you eat? I mean, someone to check in on you to like leave the library. Like you can’t keep writing all day, like in, just in general, what type of support do you need? And once you have spent some time thinking about that and brainstorming about that, I want to invite you to see what category do these forms of support fit in. So I have four main categories that I want to share with you today.
5 categories of support:
Number one, what is your community in terms of other doc students look like? So we have community in that sense, I want you to think about community and the sense of family and friends who are outside of your, like who outside of higher ed, outside of academics have no idea about this world, but they want to support you and they want to be there for you. I want you to think about counseling therapist, a helping professional in that sense like, listen, y’all I had one, I had a therapist all four years. I still have mine. I see her every Thursday. Okay. We will , we will not miss an appointment. All right. And then the last group I want you to consider is coach that dissertation coach, a writing coach and editing coach, a life coach and the type of support they can give you. Now, I’m going to go a little bit deeper in each of these categories, but just to give you an overview of where we’re going, that’s it.
Doc student communities:
So when we take the first group, your community, in terms of other doc students, I cannot stress how important this is, which is why I’m starting with it as number one. And these are not in order by, you know, they’re not in any ranking order, but I wanted to start off with doctoral students because a lot of people have this notion, if you will, that they’re just not good at terms of making friends with other doc students, they haven’t found their group of people who connect with them. Right? A lot of people have these experiences where if you talking to people in your cohort or other programs, it’s like the spirit of competition, like this elitism of like, who is your advisor? What did you publish? Or what journal did you publish in? And, oh, you stayed You stayed up all night until like 4:00 AM writing. Oh, right. It becomes this pissing match if you will, I’m not talking about them. We don’t need to be friends with them. I’m asking you to identify one to two people who like in the spirit of ride or die. Right. And it don’t gotta be that deep but it’s just in that spirit. One or two people who are in a similar phase of their doctoral journey, as you are people who have similar work styles as you, people who, who share your values. Right?
And then what I want to say is these people are not meant to be all things to you, just like your advisor. Isn’t meant to be all things to you. But what these people do is like, they help create an environment where you are more willing to show up and write. Like they create a form of support and accountability that encourages you to make progress. Like they can push you when they see you slacking. Right. And they know the difference between you slacking and you just having a really tough time. And you just need a moment and you need a listening ear. I want you to think about that. Like, who are people who, right. Because not all our friends work the same way that we do. Right. I have a lot of friends who are really type a, and they be having all the charts and spreadsheets and my brain gets overwhelmed. I can’t, I cannot right, but I like writing with them because when it’s time for them to write they are writing, right. They probably will engage in a little bit of small talk in the beginning, but their writing. And that is what I need as someone who is more of a type B personality, and is like structured, not so much, and I know I’m a whole coach out here.
Y’all and I create structure for other people. But when it comes to me and my personal writing style, I just like to know that I, I want to know the place I’m going to show up in, and that I’m going to be writing from this time to that time. But I don’t really, I might say, I’m going to work on this and produce this. But other than that, it’s not like there’s not like pages and pages of a plan. I’m just going to show up and I’m going to write. But what is important to me is that I’m around other people and I’m around other people who are working. I don’t want to be around other people who want to just b**** and moan and complain. I don’t want to be around other people who just want to constantly talk about why they can’t make progress or why they can’t do something. I don’t want that negative Juju. I want people who are like, yeah, this shit hard. And this is what I’m doing today. Great. Let’s get to work and let’s write. So when you think about your writing style and how you show up, what is it that you need? What are the type of people you need to be around? Right. And these people, well, again, let me say, you don’t need to hang out with them outside of writing time. Y’all don’t need to be BFF right.
But what would it mean to just get a group of, or a couple of people wanted two people and just say, you know, everybody, Wednesday, 7:00 PM, we gonna meet, we’re gonna write for an hour. And then we’re going to share and check in with each other to say how the writing went and where we’re going to work on in between the next session. And we’ll see you next Wednesday. Right? It could be that simple. Well, the reason why this is key is because if you’re constantly surrounding yourself around people who are not in a doctoral program or who are not really about that life and serious about making progress, that will feed into you, that will rub off on you. You will slowly over time. You may not notice it at first, but you will slowly over time start to see like, oh, I don’t need to show up for that writing. Or, oh, I could do that tomorrow. Or, oh, this is so hard. And woe is me. And then you look up and weeks have passed and you haven’t done anything because of who you are surrounding yourself with around with.
Y’all get what I’m saying, right? 95% of whether you succeed at something or not, is dictated by the people you are around the most. And so if you can associate in your mind that when I go to write or work on anything doctoral related, I am with people who, who share the same work ethic. As I do the same determination as I do, you’re, you’re more likely to succeed. You’re more likely to make the progress. But if you’re constantly trying to hang around, people who don’t understand that world who want to complain, who write whatever is not serving them, or you that’s going to rub off on you. So just think about one or two people, right? And it may be that you send them a DM or an email. And it just be like, I just want to put together a little small writing group, we’re going to meet for an hour or two, but it’s just tp hold each other accountable so that we can have an actual place to show up and write, right. That could be the extent of it. But if you already have people that you write with, or maybe I know a lot of you are in writing groups, I want you to also take a moment to assess how well those writing groups are going, or how conducive those people in relationships are to you making progress in your dissertation. Are they serving you well? Or is it just a group that you y’all go to and y’all just spend your time talking. Is it really helping you? Do you need to stay in that group?
I also know that sometimes people who put together the group get overwhelmed with the administrative part of putting the group together. And so I will also invite you to spend some time thinking about, is there a way to even simplify what you’re doing right now? Because the more simple something is the easier it is for you to get to the thing and work, the more likely you’re going to do it. It’s when we try to make things over complicated that it, it just doesn’t work out. So the first group of people on your care team, I want you to think about is community of other doc students, right? And they don’t have to be a person they can be virtual. There’s so many groups, so many communities out here. So many Facebook groups that want to like have space to support students and support people like you. So I’m going to invite you to look for that.
Family and friends Support:
Now the second group in terms of community, are the people, your family and your friends or people who are outside of your academic program or academics in general, right? They want to help you. Right. But the only way that they know how to help or provide support is to ask you, how’s it going or to ask you when you’re graduating or dang you haven’t graduated yet. Like, that’s the only language that they have access to, to show you that they are excited, that they want to be supportive. And I know you’re annoyed with the question about how your dissertation going or when you go to graduate, but this is an opportunity for you to teach them how to support you. How do you teach family and friends how to support you if you are thinking like, oh, they should just know how would they know?
Right. Like to tik-tok how would they know if they’ve never been through this process how would they know how to support you? We have to take the onus on us and teach people, right? So you can like your favorite aunt. You can be like auntie can you call me every Wednesday and just ask me how I’m doing. I just need somebody to check in on me or your home girl from high school. Can you just call me every Friday and make sure I take a break and I go, you know, do something for myself or I don’t know, like you’re brother or something you can say, Hey, can you text me Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 5:00 PM. Just ask me how did writing go. Right? It doesn’t have to be these big things. Right? It can just be as simple as giving people very clear directions of how to help you. If you have a very giving family and be like, Hey, can somebody come and do my laundry? Would somebody be willing to do my dishes? Would somebody be willing to make me some lasagna? Right? Support looks like many different things. It doesn’t always have to be directly tied to the dissertation process, but it can be something that helps make your life easier. Right?
Because like I said, the more simple things are, the easier things are the more willing you’re going to be to show up and make progress. What will like what needs to get done in your life. That will make it easier. Right? If your, your roommate goes to the store, goes trader Joe’s every Tuesday and like clockwork, and you know, you would like some bread. Could you ask them to pick you up some bread so that you don’t have to take the time out to go to trader Joe’s just to get the bread when they’re going already. But here’s the thing that’s going to stop people from doing this. Most of you are afraid of asking for help and receiving help. Most of you think that it’s shameful to have to ask for help. Like you’ll help everyone else. And you’ll be willing to break your neck for everyone else, but you won’t dare be caught out here in these streets, asking anybody for help or looking weak or receiving help. Because the key thinking is you think it’s weakness. It’s not just how you show up for everyone else. And you’re willing to help everyone else. They want to do the same. They want to return the favor, but they don’t know how so, how can you help them help you? Give people clear directions and work on the way that you think about it. And you view help. You deserve help. We all need help.
We’re not an island. We all need help. And it is okay. It’s not, you’re not being a burden to anyone, right? You’re not forcing anybody to do anything. Right. My assumption is the people you going ask help from they’re adults, right? Who can say yes or no, they have agency to say yes or no. And so if there’s something they can’t do, they will tell you. You have to trust though that they will tell you, you have to trust that they really want to help you. You have to trust that it really is no problem so that you can receive the support that you need. So you can receive the support that you give to others. So, number one, community of doc, students, number two, community of family and friends.
Therapy and Counseling Communities:
Number three, counselors, therapists, people to help you, right? A lot of you are navigating anxiety and depression among other things, right? A lot of you have different ability statuses a of you have different medical conditions, right? And, and just flat out like this experience can be very traumatic, right? Getting, becoming a whole doctor can be traumatic just because of the nature of how things are set up. And it’s okay. Right? In this vein of receiving support and help. It’s okay that you may have to go see someone to help you untangle these things. It is okay that you may have to go see a counselor, a therapist, to help you navigate some of these things. It makes sense. Of course you would need to do that. Of course, right. And schools, right Usually you get a certain amount of sessions, do your, your institution. But if that’s not an option, there are so many programs that operate on a sliding scale that will take into consideration how much you bring in income wise as a student.
And they will be willing to work with you and to give you something that is more manageable to pay for counseling. But there’s a lot of you who have counseling available to you, but for whatever reason or whether you’re telling yourself, I don’t need that, or I would have to admit that I’m broken or that I’m just really bad off. If I need to go get help, know the question that’s coming up is like, do you want to be doctor as a, as a client Tasha would say is like a whole healthy, happy person? Like, do you want to finish this process? And intact there’s so many people, myself included who ended their process, like a hot mess and the half just broken down. And mine is for other reasons, which I probably will share in some other episodes. But why wouldn’t you do everything you possibly could to support yourself through this process, to help yourself get to the other side, including a counselor or a therapist. If you need some help like, I love looking through, um, therapy for black girls. They have a, they have a, um, what do you call those things like an index. That’s not the word I’m looking for, but they have a list, uh, by that is organized by state and region of therapists that they have vetted and who are most likely accepting new clients. That’s an option. So I’m going to say, just get the help you need. ].
Coaches as Community:
And then the last thing, or the last person you definitely need to have on your care team is a coach is a coach. I know a lot of people gonna roll their eyes and be like, buy why I have my advisor, but we have established through this series that your advisor cannot be all things. And I want you to think about how comfortable are you really going to your advisor and talking to them about things like, you know, I really don’t know what a literature review is. You know, like I know what to do, but like, I don’t know how to get started, or I’m really scared about writing. I’m really scared about looking at feedback or I’m really nervous that this so-and-so is on my committee. They wrote the theory that I’m using for my theoretical framework. I’m really afraid that I won’t do it justice. Like, where’s your space to talk about those things. Where’s your space to talk about. All right. So I need to write my findings chapter, and I know that I’m supposed to talk about my themes and put in quotes from participants, but like for real like how, what’s the, what’s the, how, how, like, how do I really do that?
Are you comfortable going to your advisor to ask those questions? Do you think your advisor would tell you like, step one, do this step two, do this. And if they will awesome, that’s amazing. But if they are not, or they don’t have the time or the capacity, then where are you getting that assistance from? A coach particularly a dissertation coach is very good at being able to tell you your step-by-step. I know a lot of people use dissertation coaches as a, as a strong layer of accountability to check in with every week, but they can do so much more. They can look at your work for you. That can help you come up with an action plan, like a very detailed step-by-step action plan. They’re there to help you like navigate the in-betweens of life and dissertating. At least that’s what I do with my clients. Let me just say that, I can speak for me. I know a few other coaches and they do the same thing. And I’m not saying like, I have to be your coach. I am saying though, your best bet is to have one.
Even if you think right, its expensive. Let me, let me address this. Like people like, but it’s expensive. How expensive is it when you’re spending extra semester, semester after semester in a program, they’re you, you didn’t make no progress in? And if a coach can help you save even one semester of tuition, even if you are on an assistantship, you still have to pay money to live, right? And there’s still a cost of not being able to move on with your life. If somebody can help you even get done a semester earlier, is it not worth it? Is that investment not worth it? Why would you force yourself to continue to struggle when you have help available to you? That’s why I started this business. That’s why I created this business because I wanted doc students just like me, who was looking for community in all forms and a place to talk about the in between of how to do it. And I didn’t have it. And I wanted other students to not have to go through what I went through.
Join us in our Finish Your Dissertation Program:
And so inside of our finish your dissertation program, we provide you a dope community of other doc students who are just as committed as you to get this dissertation done. Right? We provide like support. We can be your family and friends. If you don’t think your family or friends are supportive, like we can make sure we do this all the time. Like we’ll text you at 7:00 AM to make sure you get up and go work out. We will, right? Like celebrate with you for your birthday. You want to do a zoom happy hour. Let’s get it right. Cause I know a lot of people are not trying to be out in the streets, right? You just went through a breakup and you just need to talk it out. People are there for you. The coaching, the type, the philosophy in terms of the coaching that we provide, it goes beyond the step-by-step here’s what you do with your dissertation. Cause listen, we got all the videos and worksheets that take you step by step through each chapter of the dissertation in each section and phase of the dissertation. But we also have live time on zoom, where we get together and talk about the, in-between talk about your life. Talk about how anxiety is impacting your writing today. Talking about how scared you are to go talk to your chair. Cause it’s been a whole year. That is the community like we have, we create.
And I know that it’s not an option for everyone to join for whatever reason. And so that’s why I wanted to do this episode. And I thought it was appropriate to end this episode in this way, in case you wanted to go find your own pieces of your care team. But if you’re just wanting it, if you just want to come in and you want it to be simple and you want everything to already be figured out for you, come join us, join us. We are here to help you and support you because remember your advisor can’t be everything to you. It is not their job to be everything to you and for you. They’re a whole human and its your responsibility to get the support and resources that you need to finish your goal of becoming a doctor. And if you’re interested in joining us in the finish your dissertation program, then I invite you come over to www.qualscholars.com and sign up. You can find out more information there, but that is going to do it for me this week. Please do something to fill up your cup and I will talk to you next week. Bye.