Well, one bit of good news since the last post is that my recent thesis draft passed as is! I still have some minor changes to make like some silly grammar, spelling, or syntax things,1 but even so, the professors found it passable “and quite interesting.”
Once I get those bugs out of the way I’ll consider either posting it or a thoroughly abridged summary.
If you’re new to YUTOPIA, I first blogged about this thesis way back on February 25th, 2004, and a few more times since. After a while I just stopped talking about it other to say it was “in progress” and generally let it get in the way of pursuing so many things in life mostly out of guilt and insecurity.
For so long I was afraid to write anything, mostly due to self-imposed pressure of writing a paper solely as an admissions ticket to a PhD program. For most of the time I was working on a topic I didn’t choose, didn’t really understand, and constantly felt too unqualified and too insecure to write anything. Even if I’d write three sentences, I’d delete two for not being good enough;I knew I could write better and couldn’t deal with not producing at the level I thought I ought to have been able. I even used to get panic attacks just by loading up the draft in Word.
There were several factors why things worked this time including:
- Having a topic I understood
- Having clear parameters for a research model
- Growing up a whole lot over the past few years
- Having an absolute drop-dead deadline
- Getting laid off at an opportune time
- Getting over the existential need to get a PhD immediately and living without degrees
- Dealing with bigger problems, which helps put things in perspective
- In fact I think it’s because at this point nothing was else riding on finishing the paper freed me up to view it as just another independent task
I may think of more later – right now I’m writing on instinct. I definitely feel that I’ve changed a bit since I’ve started, daresay even matured. There’s also an odd sense of closure. Back in 2003 or so the biggest advocate for me going to Chicago was my then-girlfriend, who got married within a day of me submitting my draft.2 I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think it’s interesting enough to mention.
Minimally there’s a lesson here in either tenacity or stupidity. I’ve had several people – including a therapist – tell me to quit and move on, and perhaps if I were a better economist I’d have just dealt with the sunk costs. I think part of it was the counter-insecurity of admitting failure3 or that deep down I also knew that I do in fact know how to write.
At any rate, having a masters the University of Chicago it may or may not open doors in the future, but right now I don’t feel that it has to. That lesson alone is probably worth more than the paper itself.4
I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank my family and friends who have provided encouragement or even just put up with me struggling with this over the past few years. Also I must also thank the new professors for their constructive guidance and feedback. In fact I received more productive comments from them in the past few months than I’ve gotten in the previous four years combined.
1. Huge shocker I know.
2. Mazal Tov!!!!
3. Think something like that Simpsons episode where all of Mr. Burns’ illnesses cancel each other out.
4. Who knew you could learn something while getting an education?