Feb. 21, 2018 has been horrible. This is my rant.

I am having a rather crappy day. Work sucked. My laptop is still acting stupid (I’m on the chromebook trying to troubleshoot) and I’m trying to do the calculation of which will probably take longer: fix the stupid PC or use my wife’s Mac and install python and my simulation program (which took forever on the PC to get to work). Understanding that I never use Macs.
As I do this, I’m realizing just how very very much I do NOT want to keep writing this thesis. I just found that I screwed up some mathematics WAY early into a derivation, and then I use the result of that for some calculations… so that all needs to be fixed. [fixing the math is easy, its changing it in the thesis. Its literally paaaaages long.) And it isn’t like the analysis is done either. And the experiment failed horribly. That much was clear 6 months ago. Or at least, it failed for me. There are clearly things than can be fixed, but my results are just miserable.
I still want a PhD. I’m just unsure I want it this bad. It feels sooooo good to write that. And it isn’t just the weight of Imposter Syndrome sitting on my chest. Which it is. But it isn’t just the constant repetition that:
  • I am really not worthy of getting my PhD because:
    • My work sucks
    • I didn’t learn enough
    • I was never smart enough to begin with
  • And I knew that before I started so why did I waste my time trying?
  • But even if none of the above is true… I’LL STILL NEVER FINISH BY APRIL!

But all those points aside (and the last one actually is a reasonable argument) I still don’t want to keep writing this. At one point this summer, I’d decided I wanted to finish this thesis, even if it wasn’t getting published. Even if I wasn’t getting the PhD. I wanted to at least finish it up and throw it on the archive or something. I wanted to have that tome that I wrote.

And now I don’t. I just want to lay down this task that feels like nothing but a burden. Worse than that, it feels like a waste of my time. A waste of my adviser’s time and my wife’s time and my adviser’s awesome assistant’s time (who sometimes I feel puts in more time, energy, and effort into this than my adviser does).

Right now, while I’m utterly exhausted and sore from work and just kind of bleeeeh, I don’t feel any real emotion towards the PhD.

But it does open some different doors I couldn’t otherwise. And some of those doors are really cool. Not just ‘great opportunities’ or high paying  jobs, but I’ve seen postings that have made me perk up and think it sounds like a fun thing to do… and then get paid for. I know there will be differences between my imagination and reality, but when it at least (on paper) sounds fun, that’s a lot better than most anything else, right? Better than where I’m at now.

So…. I don’t know. Either way: I’m working my laptop tonight. I think any more than that is a waste. Because sometimes you need to know when to just stop.


Author: The Other St. Louis Arch

My name is Adam J. Archibald. I’m a 7th(?) year graduate student at Washington University in Saint Louis. The bulk of my work has been focused on the development of a torsion balance experiment to investigate gravitation at distances below a centimeter. I've also devoted a great deal of time on an experiment probing for violation of the Weak Equivalence Principle. Outside of the lab I enjoy board games, rock climbing, playing music, reading, and occasionally writing.

One thought on “Feb. 21, 2018 has been horrible. This is my rant.”

  1. Keep going. You’re setting the bar too high. I’ve read quite a few dissertations. Often they just demonstrate understanding at a certain level without making a new discovery or contribution to knowledge because hey not everything works out. Keep going.

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