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