Monday, April 13, 2009

Hello, Thesis? It's Me, Artemisia

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with my Thesis Advisor. I am a bit nervous about it, sure, but I am not overcome with anxiety and HOLY SHIT is that ever awesome.

I am in a very, very different place with The Thesis than I was before. (More on that later. Much more.) I am more confident that I can be productive and I can finish the damn thing. However, I don't know what finishing looks like.

A combination of my poor ability to concentrate, massive anxiety attacks around anything to do with The Thesis, resulting avoidance, and, -- when present -- very poor and sporadic "direction" from my former advisor have resulted in me NOT KNOWING WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING.

My question to you, then, is how to I communicate this to my advisor?  I have decided not to worry about convincing him that THIS TIME I will finish. Why worry about it? No, I will just let completed work speak for itself and change his mind, if necessary.

But first, I have to get to a VERY CLEAR place with a VERY CLEAR game plan or I am afraid the crippling anxiety might come back. (I am hoping that if there are still some episodes here and there that they will be less severe and more manageable.) The direction I was going never felt comfortable to me; it was just the latest fucking "suggestion" my former advisor threw at me. I never really understood it, and hoped it would come to me as I muddled through readings, observations and surveys. It didn't, but I didn't look for it too hard, either.

The chapter I turned in is a loose rendition of a lit review with some theoretical maneuvering for giggles. I am basically hoping it will serve as a springboard for my advisor and I to discuss just what the hell this thesis can be and help me redefine the problem as something I UNDERSTAND.

I am just nervous how to bring this all up. Thoughts? Suggestions? How, er, blunt should I be with My Advisor? I feel like the more honest I am about where I am - or am not - with regards to The Thesis will result in a more productive meeting. I don't want to bring up the depression and anxiety, necessarily, because I don't want it to appear as an excuse or a reason to treat me with kid gloves. But, I do need my chair to understand that I need some help, some direction at this point.

Erg, what a mess! I cannot freakin' wait to have something esle to fret about. Goodness.

Happy Monday to you!


  1. Do you have some ideas of where you want to take this? My advisor had me write out a few different working titles for the final product, then helped me define it further until it was absolutely clear what the focus would be. It's safe to say that the more passionate you are about the research, the more you'll love doing it, so don't let your advisor entirely dictate the project.

    Do you do well with deadlines? Maybe present a schedule to your advisor to complete subsequent chapters/milestones and see what input he may have. Sometimes looking at the whole task in smaller parts makes it seem more manageable. Due dates can give you focus.

  2. I would be honest with your advisor, and say you have so many thoughts on where you want to take this thesis, and then ask him which direction he feels is the strongest.

    Good luck!

  3. I would be honest, and possibly give some background if necessary, and maybe have a few ideas of directions you'd like to go with your thesis so that your advisor can see that you aren't just making excuses but that you really do need direction and that you really will get there, once you know where there is. Good luck!

  4. You've got some great advice here, and all I'm going to add to that "be honest" is "in a way that is true to yourself." You DO know what you are doing: you're rebelling against putting good honest work into a bad, and probably poorly framed, suggestion that didn't light you on fire. Putting in the work that involves writing a thesis should allow you to immerse yourself in something that means something to you, and a good, or even competent, advisor will respect that.

    Of course, my "graduate" degree was an MFA, so I might not be offering anything helpful to your situation.

  5. Being honest (without going into personal details) will serve you in many ways, I would think. Not only will it be a relief to have him know the reality but it will also give you a real place to work from.

    Hope it goes well!

  6. I like LoriD's suggestions! Particularly the deadlines. If those will work for you without causing undue anxiety, then take that route.

    In terms of beginning with the end in mind, keep in mind this is supposed to be somewhat enjoyable. You're researching and writing about something that engages your passions. And once you're done, it'll help you do whatever is next and wonderful in your life.

  7. I think there is nothing to fear and get nervous about when meeting your thesis supervisors. They are there to help with thesis progress and make the thesis writing process easier. But, sometimes, there are chances where they can make your thesis journey harder. So, it would be a good idea to think who would be your thesis supervisor.


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