I Got the (Final Year) Blues

 I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on till I am — Jane Austen

Created using Wordle

Created using Wordle

Recently I began the final year of my undergraduate degree. It should be an exciting time: graduation is within sight and the modules are challenging and intellectually stimulating. Now that the groundwork has been laid during the first two years of study, final year offers an opportunity to deepen into my subject. I have posted before about my love of linguistics and fascination with language, but during the past week or so I have questioned what it’s all for: what is the point, for instance, of analyzing the distribution of phonological variable X, correlated with age, sex or social class in a geographic locality?

I felt that acutely yesterday, when I sat down in the morning to plan a project which requires me to choose my own area of research, collect data for it, quantitatively analyze the data and write a 3000 word paper about it (the most advanced and demanding project I have done so far). I started out with good intentions but spent nearly all day wrestling with it without anything to show for my time. By the end of the day, I was feeling daunted, despondent and disheartened, questioning myself about whether aspiring to an academic career is really what I am cut out for. Today, after a more productive morning, I do feel slightly more positive and I’m not ready to give up on my chosen field yet!

I don’t know why I am currently walking through this mire of self-doubt and second-guessing my abilities, but I suppose I have to take heart that everyone has bad days (or bad weeks, in my case!) and trust that it will not last. Even though “I am not at all in a humor for writing [and researching], I must write on till I am” and turn these problems into challenges to be overcome.

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21 thoughts on “I Got the (Final Year) Blues

  1. You can do it, Grace! As a recent graduate myself (though not for an undergrad degree sadly…. oh how time flies!), I feel your doubts and frustrations acutely. In terms of the research project, I also know exactly what you are talking about but if its any help, just remember that this is all part of the process and that even if you don’t have anything to show for it, all the twists and turns that your thought processes go through will eventually contribute to the final result. Trust me. I can only say this after a harrowing journey doing my dissertation but you will come through. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks for the encouragement, Lillian. πŸ™‚ I have a tendency to worry and then let my doubts spiral, until they grow into something much bigger than they should be: making a mountain out of a molehill, as the cliche goes.

      I’ll keep hanging on!

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  2. Here’s a fellow coping researcher… I see you’re in a stage when you ask what the point is — well, an existentialist would tell you that there is no point because we’re all going to die anyway; but this is probably not encouraging. When I’m asked about the point of studying literature, I simply say that literature helps us survive. The point of linguistics, I believe, is quite clear, language is the chief means how we communicate, hence it makes all the sense to research it. Good luck with your paper! (Also, as the previous commenter says, writing a dissertation is a journey through the valley of the shadow of death, so take this paper as a preparation. Now, this was meant to be an encouraging comment, so please only take seriously the encouraging parts!)

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    • Haha, your remark about existentialism made me smile. There’s nothing like a bit of black humour! πŸ™‚ I was in such a blue mood yesterday that I was questioning the point of everything!

      I’m sure that feeling won’t last, as I do enjoy my subject. I think I was just losing sight of the reasons why I love it and getting bogged down in nitty-gritty detail.

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the support! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Grace, you can do it! You are really smart. I have to tell you something. These types of negative thoughts never goes away. You will however know how to manage them better because you have more experience. I feel the same way right now but for a completely different situation. Eventhough I am pretty good at my current job and currently interviewing for a better one (hopefully it is actually better) , I start doubting myself on whether I can do it. These thoughts often come in the middle of the night. Nagging and annoying. Don’t let it bother you. The next day always bring a more positive outlook. Believe in yourself. I know you will be very successful at what you choose to do. I am rooting you. πŸ™‚

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  4. Yes, keep on writing and studying. I think you ARE cut out for an academic life, but maybe a break is in order. You don’t have to get it all done at once, right? I’m impressed with you and the work you have been doing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. I’m sure there are wonderful things ahead.

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  5. The months prior to graduation I developed a despondent attitude just like you’ve described here. I wondered if there was any point to my degree at all; it didn’t seem to qualify me for anything. I wasn’t headed into an exciting, challenging job or going to graduate school in the fall. The attitude persisted for a couple of months after I graduated — I had to get used to myself as a person again, not just a student.
    I think it’s good to have these kind of self-doubts during your last year in college. After all, university isn’t the beginning and end of the world, even though we’re often told that it is!
    I did mean this to be encouraging, by the way. Rest assured that the negative feelings eventually go away.

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    • It’s good to hear that I’m not alone in feeling this way. The feeling of despondency took me by surprise because it came on so suddenly. Last year, I loved almost every minute of my academic life, but I guess there are ups and downs with everything.

      Writing about it is cathartic and I appreciate the support and encouragement in the comments on this post. Thank you!

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  6. “the distribution of phonological variable X, correlated with age, sex or social class in a geographic locality” has a very big affect on the opportunities presented to people in their life.

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  7. I feel you on the final year blues. I have one class left to finish by December and I am totally dragging my feet! It’s so hard, but we have just got to keep pushing and remembering why we chose our majors in the first place!!

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  8. Sounds like you hit the ‘end of race wall’ … the one you finally burst through with gusto! Part of our education is learning to manage those ebbs and flows. But you already know that because you said: “I am not at all in a humor for writing [and researching], I must write on till I am” Good luck!

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  9. Pingback: How do you relax? | Cultural Life

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