Thursday, February 05, 2009

Motivation & Failure

Shortly after I gave Quiet Confidence the link to this website he spent a lot of time reading through the past couple years of my life chronicled here. He said that it was difficult to read at times because he hates reading stories where the good guy doesn’t triumph. He had a completely different perspective on my blog than I do since he read it in huge sections where as I parceled it out in measured segments according to my days. Where as I saw the blog as more of an up and down rollercoaster of my depression, he saw it as the up and downs of my dating life and the continuous disappointments I suffered. Neither perspective is wrong, it just depends on what lens you filter the material through.

This past year has been an entirely different kind of struggle for me. I’ve been struggling with my degree and what it means to me, if I even want to be here, and feelings of failure. Yesterday I was looking at my school ring, absent-mindedly playing with it while I was thinking of other things. As I read the inscription on the inside band it struck me that my Bachelors Degree feels like the only degree where I really tried. I put my heart and soul into those 4 years. I really tried during that degree. I have yet to put that much effort, thought and time into my Ph.D. More importantly I haven’t invested my heart into this degree like I did with my undergrad. I was so emotionally invested in that degree and wanting to be on campus, regardless of how difficult it was at that time.

It may just be that I have academic burn out. That would come as no great shock since I’ve been in University for the past 8 years. Most people I know get burn out by their third or fourth year in school. It can be quite the meat grinder in academia. I can’t find the necessary desire and motivation to complete assignments and move on to the next phase of my degree. Part of me already feels like I’ve fucked up this degree from day one, that much of the past two and half years have been a huge failure. I can’t seem to move on from those feelings of failure and disappointment in my performance, which has only exacerbated the situation. This is not how I wanted my Ph.D to play out.

1 comment:

LH said...

To the extent possible, I understand what you're going through. I dragged my PhD program out over an excruciatingly long period of time, all the while drowning in my own feelings of failure. It was so hard to reach the surface for air because the longer it took, the heavier the burden from that aforementioned sense of failure. This was in direct contrast to my stellar performance during the pursuit of my Bachelor's, which I completed in 3 years (while my high school friends were taking 5 years and more to get their degrees). But I did get that PhD and am now so so so grateful for its completion!

I know that (1) You didn't solicit advice and that (2) Advice never works anyhow because everybody already has their own answers and they certainly don't need to hear mine. Still, I'm offering you this advice: Change! Things have to change because you can't keep trudging forth as you have been and expect something different--you know, that whole thing about "insanity is the man who repeats the same actions but expects a different result" thing.

Maybe the change is that you have to walk away for a little while. Or maybe the change is you need a better time table...or to be more explicit here about that time table so others help to hold you accountable. Maybe the change is setting small goals and allowing/requesting others to help reward you for each small step.

The fact is I don't know what change is required to move you along toward resolution (either completion or abandonment of this pursuit--those are the only choices here), but I do know that change is required.

Good luck. I look forward to following your journey...wherever it leads you.