Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Few Life Lessons I've Got from Writing Thesis

Reading time: 5 minutes

For the last 2 weeks me and my fellow thesis fighters were trying to finish our thesis. And so we submitted our thesis 2 days ago. Finally!

I wanted to tell you all the details of how we survived the wrath of thesis (technically, not yet because I haven't gone through my thesis defense, but i think thesis submission counts as one phase of "The Wrath of Thesis"). But then I figured that it would be a lot more interesting if I also share the life lessons I got from this 6-month torture process of thesis writing.

 Just so you know, the life lessons I have got are worth it.

1. Setting a clear goal

My thesis would have been messed up if we (me and my thesis group) did not have any clear goal apart of getting our thesis done. We aimed to create a useful application, to learn as much as we could in the process, and to give our all until the thesis defense day comes. We have made a lot of decisions based on that goal, like deciding our thesis topic and choosing the lecturer who gives us guidance, as a start. Without that clear goal we would have got  lost in the process.

I realize that it works the same way in life. When you're not sure what you're fighting for and why you're doing what you're doing, you would not be able to do it right. Don't do it at all if you don't mean it.

2. Taking challenges one step at a time

In writing thesis, you are required to have the eye for details, even if you really don't. That's what happened to me. It seems that there's always gonna be another mistake or misplacement and another numbers of imperfection. I have to face so many challenges that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. 

But that's life too. You will never get rid of all problems. Life is not problem-free (here i am stating the obvious). What we can do instead is facing all of them patiently. Don't be afraid to take the steps. 
I have come to a realize that getting started is often the hardest part, but when we decide to just deal with it and start working, it will make us feel a lot better because we can see the progress we have. That content feeling drives us to continue with our work and perform better.

3. Staying out of unnecessary rage

Frustration would get its grip on me when things don't happen as I expected, or when I couldn't get an approval I had thought I deserved (yes, I am talking about bunch of revisions here).
In life we would be tempted to complain and complain whenever we don't get the things we want to get. Believe me (and believe yourself), you'll get there. What would make it harder for you to get what you want is unnecessary amount of rage and complaints. It really does nothing but getting in your way of achieving your goals.

4. Small things matter

Let me tell you, the process of writing thesis has really taught me a lot about life. In my post last month,  I have discussed about how small things matter but we don't have to sweat over every small stuff. In this particular case (i mean writing thesis), it clearly shows how small things really matter. 
I watched a group's thesis defense a few days ago, and it was hard to watch because they did not pay attention on small things they should know, as simple as the background of their work.

Same thing goes with your life. How can you create big things if you cannot even prove that you can handle the small things?
If we don't really care about small things and decide to just leave them there, it means we're not ready to take over the big stuff. Don't even try. Everything starts small, and when it turns big, it doesn't leave the small things behind to keep growing.

5. Team work

While this "thesis team" thing doesn't make sense to a lot of other universities and faculties (Some have said that working on thesis in a team just makes it a lot worse and harder), it's also something that i am actually grateful for. Writing thesis in a team has taught me about the importance of team work. Another obvious statement, right? But it's a lot trickier than it sounds. I have seen some friendships and relationships end during team thesis writing, and I am not joking. Maintaining relationships under the pressure of thesis are challenging.

Working in a team with 2 friends of mine has taught me a lot of things about myself. From one person, I learned about how a great learning habit is very positively impactful, from another I learned about how dealing with challenges is best done by getting started right away and staying focused. I'm sure it's no coincidence that I ended up being in the thesis team with them, why? Because these qualities are exactly the things I still need to improve.

Both of them also have different personalities from mine, and I learned to work by understanding how they work, so we can work together. The dynamic of a team is a life simulation. No matter what, we always have to deal with different kinds of people.

So, those are the 5 life lessons that I have got only from writing a thesis. How about you? Do you have your own ideas of how thesis writing changed your perspectives, or perhaps, changed your life?

Until next time.
© Janet Valentina
Maira Gall