Based on my experience, finishing a master’s thesis comes as a tremendous relief. After months or even years of planning, researching, writing, editing and finalizing, the sudden freedom following submission can feel exhilarating. Personally, I’m currently recovering from the intensive process, taking interest in other things and beginning to look to the future insofar as planning one’s life is even possible in the time of corona.
Notwithstanding this new-found freedom that I am now cherishing, letting go of my thesis at long last felt anticlimactic in the moment. The instant that I finally submitted the text, I was indeed mainly filled with insecurity. Moreover, I felt unnerved, sleep-deprived and doubtful of the small last-minute changes I had made. The second-guessing was all-consuming. Why did I do or not do this or that? After having reached the point of no return, I did not want to look at the final product due to my harsh self-criticism. My obsession with language and difficulties in decision-making had been a continuous obstacle throughout the writing process. In fact, I questioned my ability to conduct rich and coherent analysis in an articulate manner. It was the flow and rhythm of the text that concerned me the most, my aptitude to maintain eloquent self-expression while simultaneously engaging in critical interpretation.
What troubled me was that the whole process could have been smoother if only I had organized my time better and maintained routines more diligently. This was an immense challenge for me when forced to write and read at home, a sudden change generated by the exacerbated corona situation. This new reality was particularly difficult to adapt to even though I acknowledged that countless others were surely struggling with similar problems with respect to self-discipline and lack of human contact. Furthermore, devoting oneself to a particular project is often an isolating experience in itself. For me, thesis-writing was certainly a solitary endeavor pursued under considerable pressure. Above all, I learned just how anxiety-inducing ambition can be when combined with a chaotic lifestyle. Without an inflexible deadline, it would have been unbearable for me to let go of this precious and creative undertaking of mine, for I felt deeply passionate about my research topic, albeit exhausted by the process. Due to the time-consuming and agonizing nature of academic writing, I knew that the quality of my life would significantly improve after closing this chapter in my life.
I intended to graduate in a manner that I could be proud of. And the thesis went well, after all. The recognition I gained felt soothing and even empowering after all the self-doubt and disorder I had endured. Whether success in a master’s thesis will have any impact on my future is an entirely different question, however. The fact that I persevered through this long-lasting endeavor has nevertheless nurtured my self-confidence. I made this happen, which is a fine cause for celebration. While it is trickier to celebrate one’s achievements during the prolonged corona crisis, I am at least taking a moment to reflect on this extended era that is now drawing to a close. My life as a student will soon be a mere memory, which evokes conflicting emotions in me.