Friday, May 18, 2007

exhausted by diligence and fear

This afternoon after my appointment at the hospital, I submitted the final copy of my thesis to my department's office. I had copies for my adviser and second reader, but they weren't in their offices, so I look forward to giving them their copies Friday.

I'm exhausted. I feel so beat. I can't recall ever working so hard over so many weeks as I have done recently, especially during the last 2-3 weeks. I'm quite satisfied with the result, however, but it's been grueling. In particular, the editing process was so taxing, more so than I would have imagined but it's a necessary part. I reviewed the thesis many times, combing it for mistakes or necessary changes. The space adjacent to my desk was cluttered with earlier versions of my paper. And each time I reviewed it, I found mistakes that I hadn't recognized before whether in the footnotes or the bibliography or the text itself. After a while, I found myself needing a bit of a break from reading the text again and again. I needed the fresh eyes that come with rest. So, I'd take a brief break and then, return to it again.

About three weeks ago I thought that as long as I handed in something decent, I'd be happy. That'd be enough, I asserted. I wasn't trying for anything grand or heroic. Mediocrity would do. Yet as the deadline inched and inched and the pressure mounted, I found myself wanting to make my thesis as best as I could. If could improve it in any which way, I sought to do so. Therefore, I sought the feedback from Rashid, for example, and took his advice seriously. I implemented almost all of the changes he suggested. The reason why the editing process took so long in part is because I wanted to submit something with which I'd be satisfied. I was reminded that I'm too diligent of a person to just submit mediocre work. All through college and in grad school, I've tried to do my best. I worked knowing that it was unacceptable to do less than I'm capable of doing. I've been trained this way for so long. So why start now thinking that mediocrity is fine at the moment that the crown sample of my MA work is due?

A few people suggested that I should just do what I can. My health is more important, they said. Indeed, my health is more important, but honestly I found it too difficult to just let the opportunity pass by for me to not do the best work possible. Some times, I have felt that no one really understood the amount of pressure I felt nor how much the completion of my thesis meant to me. I alone understood. Fear of failure (both personal and communal) meant too much to me.

I'm tired. I feel beat. My shoulder and back muscles have ached. I'm in so need of a break. But not yet. Two weeks of classes remain and my first final paper is due on the 25th.


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