Making sense of theory plays an essential role in the life of a doctoral student. This autoethnographic study explores how I made sense of educational theory while conceptualizing the theoretical framework for my PhD proposal. A diary that I kept while designing the proposal serves as the data source to examine how my thinking about theory evolved. Findings demonstrate that the development of my thinking was a complex and circular process that progressed through nine phases. A particular challenge of conceptualizing a theoretical framework was the tight timeframe in which the proposal needed to be completed in order to start collecting data for my doctoral research. The paper concludes with a discussion about implications for language teacher educators and PhD supervisors.