I think I was a little bit too cocky the last couple of months, because December pummeled the crap out of me. It was like getting a kick to the (proverbial) balls. If you recall:
I almost cried in their office. I had never been told I was a poor writer, even during the first year of my undergrad. This made me concerned that there would be no possible way I could pursue a PhD.
- September was pretty easy.
- October was not as easy, but still relatively stress-free.
- November was manageable.
So what happened? Term papers. Horrible, dreadful, soul-crushing term papers.
Now, you’d think that these papers were especially long, or on ridiculously obscure topics assigned by my professors. Not true. Both were less than 20 pages (so lengths I was used to completing during my bachelor’s degrees) and both were on topics I developed myself (and topics I was excited about, I may add).
After I left the relative safety of November, I developed a considerable amount of self-doubt, which caused a bad case of “the block”. Consequently, it took me a long time to start the writing process. It was an intense battle, but I managed to power everything and hand in my papers on-time (but barely, I was down to the wire both times).
As soon as I finished writing, there was no rest for the wicked: it was on to marking my students’ term papers, and following that, their exams. This was the second battle (followed closely by the third) I had to conquer in as many weeks. 50 or so hours of marking later (and 10 hours before my flight left) I was free (for 13 days)!!
But for a lot of the time I was home, I was worried that what I handed in was dreadful. And I had just cause to do so: I happened to run into one my professors a couple of days before I left, and they said although I had great ideas, my writing needed considerable work.
I almost cried in their office. I had never been told I was a poor writer, even during the first year of my undergrad. So, needless to say, I was worried and anxious that I was going to end up with an awful grade. This made me doubt my abilities even more, and made me concerned that there would be no possible way I could pursue a PhD.
However, just before New Year’s Eve, both of my grades were posted. Although I did not do badly, I’m still not quite satisfied with my marks; I could have done better on my papers and, as a result, better in the courses overall (but remember, I’m a keener).
What is most important is what I can take away from all of this: I know now I need to start writing earlier in the term, and one can’t subsist on pizza and energy drinks alone (everyone needs sleep eventually).
Despite everything, I managed a major accomplishment: I’m one-quarter of the way through my masters and the upcoming term is looking good.