A few months ago I had a meeting with my adviser in which he told me I was failing at being a grad student. Okay…he didn’t exactly say it that way but that’s how it came across. I wasn’t producing enough writing each week which meant I was rapidly falling behind on my deadlines and it was not good.
Behind the scenes I wasn’t getting the feedback I felt was needed to continue writing. I had been sharing my work with the committee and hadn’t had any response yet. I had no clue if I was on the right track or if I was doing this whole thesis thing “right.”
After a brutally honest conversation from my adviser I felt like I was failing big time. I haven’t had someone tell me I was failing since I had left Cooper. What I realized though is I did know more about writing a thesis than I had thought. I started pushing pages out like crazy and finally felt like I was going somewhere.
Writing an undergraduate research paper is not all that different than writing a thesis. I knew how to write a scientific paper and a research paper so I could do this.
I took that conversation as motivation to prove him wrong. I wasn’t going to fail at being a grad student. I wasn’t going to not finish my degree. But I had to adjust my mindset that I did know what I was doing and I didn’t need someone to confirm that I was doing it correctly. I have always been a self-sufficient person and I needed to carry that into my degree. I needed to listen to what he was truly saying and determine how I could fix that. For me, I had to keep persevering through writing even without receiving comments and let go of having a safety net. If I was going to fail at writing that paper I wanted it to be because my writing sucked not because I didn’t write anything.
About a month after that conversation I finally got comments on my first paper. Believe it or not the paper wasn’t as terrible as I had thought it was. There were a lot of comments-some minor and a few major ones. But they weren’t anything that I couldn’t handle or deal with.
Flash forward to today, and I am in the last 3 weeks of my fellowship contract. I have two major papers nearly complete that will become a part of my thesis. I am 126 days out from graduation with my MS which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I am so excited to close this chapter and be done with this research. But it means that I have less than 126 days to finish writing, edit, and defend my degree. But I will get there. The papers will get written and defended and I will have that expensive piece of paper in 4 short months.