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Letter to My Mother

December 4, 2015

A Plea for (Financial) Support, in Times of Severe Thesis Procrastination

By Isabel Wu

Dear Mother,

I am writing to request monetary support for another semester due to the pending status of my thesis. I acknowledge that this is the third time I’ve delayed my graduation. There are both existential and utilitarian ramifications for the degree I’m obtaining; although, such are beyond the scope of this letter to discuss. I believe, at this point, the premise has long been established that finishing a thesis is our shared common goal.  However, to justify the funding, I am following up with a feasible proposal to make sure that we will both be released, satisfactorily, from this open-ended contract which involves you offering limitless support for me to stay committed to this degree.Isabel

The Situation:

The common explanation for my prolonged stay in the graduate program is known as thesisitis: the feeling of fatigue, nausea, lethargy, lack of motivation after a large intake of information and research in an area that no one else cares about. Sometimes patients of such may experience serious bouts of mood swings–the relentless self-blaming of under-accomplishment; incoherent conversations–the mumbling of answers when asked “How’s the thesis going?”; and momentary lapses of motor skills–leg cramps after sitting in a fixed spot, for 7 hours or longer, staring at the computer screen.

Problem Diagnosis:

Solution may not be entirely at large, given the three-semester delay. To break the pattern of avoidance, we must identify the root cause of the problem, which can be deconstructed into the mind, the agent, and the support.

  • Mind: Perfectionism, a tendency to hold yourself to an impossible standard that induces doubts of your own abilities and the fear that no matter what you do, the thesis is going to be rejected and butchered, is the main obstruction of the writing process.
  • Agent: Internet is the powerhouse of procrastination. The variegated information and entertainment channels find their ways to occupy the mind by keeping it stimulated and engaged.
  • Support: The lack of social interaction increases a sense of isolation, creating a hotbed for self-blame and depression, and fosters wanton ideas to steer your attention elsewhere.

 

With the elements of the cause identified, solutions are immediate.

Steps Involved:

  • Break down the task to obtainable goals. To reconfigure the mind, first I must make the task appear less daunting. I will divide the paper into workable sections, roughly 2 pages per section, and designate 1 to 2 sections as tasks for each day.
  • Block the Internet. To annihilate the agent of distractions, I will install apps on my laptop to block the internet for a certain amount of time each day, leaving the active mind searching for stimulation with no choice but to work on the task at hand.
  • Engage Social Support. To enhance social support, some of the ways include talking with my social circle about my problem and asking them to help monitor my progress (e.g. write a letter to my mom to ask for support and forgiveness, or write a blog post about my thesis procrastination, so I can crowdsource solutions to my struggles).
  • Go to the Writing Center. The Appalachian State University Writing Center (UWC) is a special form of social support. The UWC has the best consultants and staff who can work with me individually. They will listen to my problems, and maybe, just maybe, they might have the solutions to those problems. Besides, the writing sessions will definitely keep me engaged because I will discuss my ideas with the consultants.

Potential Obstacles:

Some of the foreseeable obstacles include falling back into the vicious cycle of fear, delay, and self-blame. Thus, it is important to learn to forgive oneself, for the guilt of not staying on track will have more negative effects on one’s mood and further clog the writing groove.

In closing, mother, I hope this letter has somewhat relieved your stress for the unknown future, in particular, the indefinite amount of time and money that will continue to funnel into this abyssal rabbit hole of my thesis. Again, your support will be appreciated, and your money properly spent–mainly in tuition, food, and winter protection…and possibly, some lighthearted entertainment, such as Netflix and Encyclopedia of Insects…

Sincerely,

Signature

Your Only Daughter

P.S.  Verbal/written reply is optional, but check expected

Works Consulted:

El-Ghoroury, N. H. (n.d.) Dissertation procrastination. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/09/matters.aspx

Evans, D., & Gruba, P. (2002). How to write a better thesis. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press.

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