Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A bitch about doing a thesis

Hi everyone, remember me? I'm not back but in need of a bitch about my thesis, so feel free to skip over this post and warning that it's long and pretty negative.

I really really really hate working on a thesis. I am very close to finishing it and have to present soon which probably makes me hate it even more, so will be interesting to compare notes about how I feel once I have finished.

I find doing a thesis to be pretty alienating, probably because no-one else I know is doing a thesis, well apart from those lucky ones who have scholarships and get to do them during regular work hours and get paid to do it. I love socialising and really hate missing out, lately it feels like everyone else is having fun except me, which I'm sure isn't entirely true but it certainly feels like it.

Also, I could slap the next person who makes a comment about how long it has taken me. Yes it has taken me a while, but I am studying part time and for the most part have been working full time-ish hours and I work in a pretty draining job so the last thing I want to do when I come home is any sort of work. Also, I had one topic that fell apart (not my fault). Anyway give me a break, ok! And no more questions about when I am going to finish, I'll finish when I finish, I don't know. I have been working all year on aiming to get it done before I got away, but that's not going to happen.

One of my biggest hates about the thesis thought is guilt, when I do socialise, or go to a potluck or just have a day when I am not productive I get pretty pissed off at myself, I think it is made even worse by people who feel that they are helping by checking up on me with questions like 'did you work on your thesis?', 'how much did you get done today'. I have enough guilt myself, I don't need you giving me more!

I think some people are born academics and love writing, but I really don't as you can probably tell for my disregard for grammar on this blog. It's not really my thing. I don't think I have disliked myself more than when doing a stupid thesis, there are certain conversations that I have with myself where I occasionally feel like I can't do it, like i'm not smart enough, that i'm lazy, that anyone could do it but me. It's not all the time but occasionally often when I hit a wall and am feeling stuck on one part. There does appear to be a bit of a cycle too where I feel so guilty and then hate myself a little more and then actually be less productive.

There is such a major part of me that has wanted to just give up for quite a while, but I am now so close to finishing it, I'm sure if I did give up I would regret it forever. I also I would feel like I am letting the participants of the study down, which I don't think I could manage.

I hate the stress and avoidance around supervision, almost every time I have a appointment with my supervisor I think to myself, she is going to tell me off, she is going to say that what I have done is stupid, and I need to justify why I haven't done more etc. Which is kind of crazy because my supervisor has been pretty awesome and I know I wouldn't have been able to get this far without her.

I really really want to be planning our holidays destinations right now but don't have the time which I hate. I feel like I might have a crappy holiday because I am not planned anything and will have a thesis hanging over my head the whole time. So if you do have any sort of tips for must eats/visits in Hong Kong, London, or Berlin please let me know.

I could go on further but won't.

Thanks for the big whinge, it feel a tiny bit better to get that off my chest! And yes I know there are bigger much worse problems in the world.


Seitahn said...

Oh you poor thing!

Hang in there! It will be all worth it!
Sending positive finishing vibes your way.


Danni said...


Niki said...

Aww dude! There's a reason not everyone does a thesis - it's bloody hard! Stick with it!

Janine said...

I'm hearing you!! I can so relate. I'm not working on a thesis, but I am studying at the moment, and just this very second threw the earphones across the room in frustration and started reading blogs. I wish I could offer some words of advice that would make things click into place.

I also feel that all I ever think about is the unfinished assignment that my lecturer is being ever so patient with me. I just want to rejoin life soon! I've started getting up at 5am to try and chip away at it, cos its killing me.

So, although nothing like the stress you are under - I'm hearing you and feeling your pain.


steph said...

You've just articulated so many reasons why I still haven't done my PhD! About three years ago I went and had a chat with my Head of Department (who had incidentally also supervised my Honours) about doing my PhD, but the risk of not getting a scholarship and therefore having to work and write, or worse, work and then write part-time, was just not something I felt I could do.

Hugs to you. If you need, you can come and sit in our aircon and work on your thesis and I'll cook you dinner.

lisa said...

Sounds like writing a book! The end point (having a book/thesis/academic accreditation) is much more fun than the actual doing.

I've never done a thesis but everyone I know who has expressed frustrations like yours quite often, even those studying fulltime. So you're not alone... and you're nearly there! Think how good it will be once it's done.

I think you make a good point about not being an academic type. It's good to recognise those things about yourself and there's nothing wrong with that. Because I excelled at high school I used to think I was an academic type, but actually over the years of struggling with uni coursework I realised that, although I love learning and doing big projects, academia isn't really my thing. That said, I'm slowly chipping away at a masters and I'm sure I'll be putting up a post like this when it's time for me to write my own thesis.

Theresa said...

I don't know if this helps, but what you're feeling is normal! I went to a workshop last year about 'defeating self-sabotage', and one of the most important things I got out of it wasn't what the presenters were telling us--it was hearing everyone else's experiences and realising we were all in the same boat.

Of course, you are in an even harder place because you're working, so you deserve extra kudos for even getting to the point where you are! Doing a thesis is like a roller coaster. And there are SO MANY people who avoid their supervisors, and SO MANY people who feel guilty about not getting enough done. But really, you need the socialising and the potlucks and the days off to keep sane, and to get the distance from your thesis in order to make it *good*, so try not to feel guilt!

Hang in there, don't rush yourself, and tell anyone who tries to rush you to eff off!

Johanna said...

working and studying is hard hard work with little respite (and my experience was mainly with my coursework) - but a thesis is a fantastic achievement no matter how long it takes - good luck with make progress no matter how small

My favourite place to eat in London is now closed - cranks veg restaurant - but Neal's Yard near covent garden has some interesting places - and one of my favourite museums is the Geoffrye Museum - I think it is in the east end - and I would love to visit the borough markets though I don't know if they are open all year - you have much to look forward to in your travels

I'm Philippa O said...

hang in there pickle - you'll be on an incredible holiday soon!

Anonymous said...

Keep on going - you know it's true - the light is at the end of the tunnel. - ann

kristy said...

Thanks everyone for all of your supportive comments!

It is quite reassuring to know that I am not alone with a lot of these thoughts.

It's come in good time too, since I have to present tomorrow. Although I'm still a nervous wreck, but great to know that even if it sucks I can come back here and read all these kind thoughts, thanks!

lisa said...

Borough Market is open on Fridays and Saturdays year-round - an awesome place! Can't vouch for how vegan-friendly it is (I haven't visited for four years) but the fresh produce is great and it's in a lovely historical location.

Cindy said...

In the sciences at least, there are plenty of excellent researchers who aren't natural writers. (And most of us improve with practice, even if we're not born to it.) I struggled with that aspect of my thesis too, but it made me all the more proud of my achievement when I did finally finish. When you do get there (and you will get there!), be proud of your persistence as much as your acquired knowledge!

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