Thesis Reflections: Stream of Consciousness

Social media is the highlight reel of a person’s life.

-Dr. Matthew Towles

Today, I defended my Master’s thesis. I have a few revisions to make, but the vast majority of the project is done.

That sounds really nice. From the outside, I think it might seem like it was a smooth, linear process that I accomplished with ease and grace. But you’ve only seen the highlight reels, and I’ve been living the outtakes.

Shoot, y’all. You didn’t see me staring at my computer screen in ugly tears because I felt like I was incapable. You didn’t see my bloodshot eyes scanning page after page of research. You didn’t see me sheepishly miss deadline after deadline because I felt stuck and indecisive. It wasn’t easy, and I think it’s important to remember that.

I kept a Word doc in my Thesis Research folder called “Stream of Consciousness.” In it, I jotted down my thoughts whenever I had a chance. I began recording my thoughts in the summer, when I was optimistic and excited to plan the project. I very, very quickly realized that I was in far over my head and, well…

I’d like to share with you most of my entries of my little thesis journal log as proof that my “behind-the-scenes” is a smokin’ hot mess, and nobody really has it all together.

*The thesis process inherently involves some profanity. Not my fault.

  • [Summer] Hey Carissa, this is an exciting topic. I want you to remember that you can tackle it. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in procrastination because you’re afraid you’re not going to do it perfectly. Instead, enjoy the research, enjoy reading the books, reread a really funny part, do whatever it takes. You’re not doing this project for your committee, you’re not doing it for your peers, you’re not doing it for your parents, and you’re not doing it for your friends. You’re doing it for yourself and your future. So don’t give up, and keep moving. Even if it’s slowly–keep moving! 🙂
  • [Summer] I know you’re scared, but you have to keep taking steps forward. You do know things, and you do have research skills. You can use them.
  • [Fall] What the f___ am I doing? Why didn’t I quit while I still had a chance? Not sure I can keep it up all year long.
  • [Fall] I’m not sure I was made for this kind of project. But in 6 months it will be over, and until then, it’s nose to the grindstone. I wish I had more motivation. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
  • [Fall] About 75% of me wants to walk into my committee chair’s office right now and quit. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my grad school career. This is making me miserable. I am miserable.
  • [Fall] I’m only miserable when I don’t ask for help.
  • [Winter] I love it when I’m doing it. Carissa, you f___ing love this when you’re doing it. Keep doing it.
  • [Spring] I’m very, very sure my friends are all lying to me when they tell me it’s worthwhile to finish a thesis. It’s a trap.
  • [Spring] Well, tomorrow is the deadline for chapter two, and you have written almost half of it. Just sit down and work until it’s done, I guess. Happy d___ Valentine’s Day to you too, stupid thesis.
  • [Spring] I’m scared I’ll fail at this. I doubt my ability to write with every sentence I put on paper.
  • [Spring] I’m gonna be okay, I think.
  • [Spring] Thesis deadline in four days. I’m panicked, and I’m scared, and I might fail at this.
  • [Defense Day] You did it. You DID IT. You did it.

1 thought on “Thesis Reflections: Stream of Consciousness

  1. I just realized that you have a blog too! I had no idea you were going through so much turmoil while writing your thesis–you seemed pretty cool to me. 🙂 But I know what the process can do to even the coolest person.


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