When faced with the looming deadline for your thesis, there are two things you can do: Panic or get on with it. Realistically, you’ll probably end up doing both. I know I did…The weeks leading up to my thesis submission deadline were certainly ‘character building’. First, I realised I had miscalculated one of my variables. You’re probably wondering how anyone could miss something so crucial. I think I had just gotten too caught up in it all. I chose the ‘get on with it’ option in this scenario, it would have been a waste of time to panic or dwell on how I had neglected to notice my mistake, but I do realise now that I need to remember to step away from my thesis/study from time to time so that I can see it with a clear head.
I was far less cool, calm and collected when I faced my second character building exercise. This came in the form of discovering I needed to restructure my hypotheses, condensing three into two. My initial reaction was to PANIC! My stress levels went from 0 to 60 in the space of a few seconds. In fact, it all happened that quickly I didn’t realise how panicked I was until my supervisor pointed it out to me. Why was I so stressed? Well, the hypotheses shape the structure of the results and discussion so I had to tweak these too. In the end, this did not turn out to be the nightmare I had envisaged and it was definitely worth it. What did I learn? Things are rarely as bad as you think they are. Oh and, keep an eye on your stress levels and manage them before they peak [in a perfect world should be the caveat here…I vividly remember my mind going completely blank at one point due to stress, which is not something that has ever happened to me before. And no, this has not deterred me in the slightest from applying for postgrad. The rewards far outweigh everything else in my opinion].
Finally, writing my discussion was the clear winner in terms of the challenges I faced in those last few weeks. Just imagine the pressure (self-imposed as always) to do my study justice, draw all the themes together, interpret my results and come to a conclusion, without being able to show my supervisor a draft. To say I agonised over my discussion would be fairly accurate. I looked at past theses for guidance about structure. This was largely fruitless. I soon came to the realisation that there is no right way. I still think my structure is rather unorthodox but it does tell a story. Tell a story, tell a story, tell a story… that was the refrain constantly echoing in my head while writing the discussion, along with every piece of advice my supervisor had ever given me and my high school English teacher’s catchphrase ‘you’ve got to dazzle dazzle’ the markers! Last but not least I gained some much needed perspective from my Mum, who remarked that I had written every other piece of work at university by myself, without drafting, so why was I doubting myself now? Armed with all this, I did simply get on with it. In fact, I continued writing my discussion through an earthquake!
As Arthur Golden said “a mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.” This certainly held true for me in the weeks and days leading up to my thesis submission. Once I dealt with the doubt or stress, I was able to tackle things head on and realise that my doubt was unjustified. And as to victory? I do feel victorious, after eight months of hard work I produced an 11, 967 word Honours’ thesis, but more importantly I have learned so much this year and loved the journey. What more can I ask of myself, having given my all? It’s in the hands of the markers now. Wish me luck.