Being so utterly disappointed in Facebook’s interpretation of my 2016, I decided to think seriously about how my year actually has gone. As far as things go, it’s been a pretty big one. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be reviewing my year by alternating between the worst and best bits of the year. I hope that the introspection and discussion can set us up for a better year next year.
Today we’re covering the fourfth lowest part of the year, but which honestly dominates my experiences over the past six months.
Have you ever labored under the feeling that your work is sending you slowly but inexorably down a path of no return? Thesis writing takes a hell of a lot of time and effort at a point in your PhD where you’d have the least time and the most stress even apart from the thesis. Theses are truly long and comprehensive documents which take some skill to assemble, but what makes the experience horrible is really the guilt.
Thesis guilt surges every time you can’t think what to write, every time you take a half-hour lie-in, every time you decide you need to walk to the shops to get some milk. You should be working right now, and you’re not. You try to dismiss the feeling, and feel better, but in five minutes you’re back where you started. Not working hard enough is why you haven’t finished Chapter 4 yet. You know you’re not being fair on yourself – you’ve been working since you woke up, after all – but little by little the guilt wears you down. You’re going to fail and have wasted three years of your life.
It saps your enjoyment of basically anything which isn’t writing. Your life is consumed by the thesis. Even sleep starts to evade you because you could be writing right now at 1am.
There are lots of positive benefits to encoding your work in a single volume, reviewing it all at once as is done in the thesis. It gives you a strong perspective on your overall achievements, and in the end you have a nice brick of paper to keep your door open with.
I’d have gladly traded some of that in for peace of mind, though.