What thesis writing can teach you about life

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Research track. That’s what I got myself into during my masters in the University of the Philippines Diliman. Basically, getting yourself into that track requires you to come up with a research that has never been done anywhere in the world. So how will you know about something that’s never been done before? By reading a lot. I don’t mean it as an understatement. When I say a lot, that means, A LOT.

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You really need to pour so many hours reading literature after literature; identify all their key differences and finally find that research gap you can fill with your own. I can attest that the painstaking process will surely reveal attitudes you never thought you have. The loneliness of figuring out something alone can make you question your worth especially when you don’t seem to progress at all. Or at least, that’s what happened to me.

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Thesis writing can be both stressful and exhilarating, like an emotional roller coaster ride. When I consulted with my thesis adviser one time, while I was still developing my research topic, he told me that the whole process will teach me about creativity, perseverance, and independence. The moment I got to the end of my thesis writing journey, I realized that those three things are also applicable in life.

1. Creativity.

The moment we set foot into education, we learned that when we get the right answers, we are rewarded, then penalized if we don’t. For years, schools taught us to be compliant with the standards they set, qualifying us for the industrial workforce. This was the kind of idea I grew up with. That if only I will just study hard enough, memorize the right terms, then I can find my way through education.

To my surprise, thesis writing is not about studying hard enough or memorizing the right terms. It’s more like asking questions you are not even sure if there is an answer. But it’s not really the answer that matters. What does is the journey you took to figure out and make sense of the question and maybe, shed some light about what matters.

Thinking of ideas is one thing but acting up on them and realizing them is another. When we were kids, we used to be so creative that we can do and be anything. Nothing and no one can stop us from wanting to become an astronaut, a princess, a superhero even in our own childish dreams. But as we grow up, we forgot how to be creative, how to stand out and be different, become special in our own way. We were so caught up conforming to standards, fitting ourselves into boxes of the same form, so that we can be just like everybody else.

Maybe we need to be like a child again, be creative in ways unimaginable.

When that next idea comes up, what are you gonna do about it? It’s time to take action.

2. Perseverance.

Taking graduate studies was a personal choice and with it came the challenges of writing a thesis. There was no other way but to go through the process.

In life, there are also a lot of inevitable challenges we have to face. Some are things brought about as consequences of our action or inaction while others are the ones we just don’t have control over with. Like it or not, the only thing to do is take action. If we just allow ourselves to be consumed by every emotional baggage each difficult situation brings, then we will be reduced to doing nothing. But we cannot do nothing forever. It’s just a waste of life. At some point, we have to stop feeling and start thinking about what should be done.

It goes to say that whatever is difficult is not impossible. However, it requires a diligent character to overcome the difficulties and achieve great things after. Accomplishments really come with a price, with sacrifice as the currency.

Do you want to achieve great things in life? Have the persistent effort to solve the problem you are now facing. It’s time to take action.

3. Independence.

Thesis writing could really make you feel so alone. No one understands your ideas, your questions, and especially your frustrations. No one can even relate with the small victories you achieved that day. No one knows how many sleepless nights you poured in just to figure out how to move on with your paper. No one deeply rejoices with you when you finally figure it out. But you have to rise above it all because you need to deliver. You have to deliver.

It’s not that different in life.

Instead of waiting for somebody else to figure out what must be done, we figure it out ourselves. We use our mind to think of ways on how to provide a solution to a problem. We initiate in transforming ideas into actionable steps. We take the lead. We don’t wait for an applaud.

We keep on doing what must be done. Not just because we want to, but because we have to.

What are you still waiting for? It’s time to take action.

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