May 15th. 15:00. I set reminders on every electrical device I owned though the truth be told; I didn’t need any. I even had a countdown app that would remind me how long I had left every morning. When that number was over a hundred days, I was pretty relaxed, to be honest. A bit too relaxed, I found out pretty quickly that working from home did not result in the number of pages that I needed to produce; cats…they needed to be cuddled, and they would spring into action with mock fights that, of course, again required to be watched, recorded, shared on WhatsApp which led to more conversations which needed to be answered and so on and so on… Then the numbers started to fall below 100 days, and I did not have a document that resembled a Thesis.
There was only one thing for it. I needed to take this whole thing seriously, so I took a desk in a shared space and was ready to plough into this thesis. One problem, I needed to finish the last paper of the course first. This was a paper on cybercrime and deviance, so I hate to say it, but I’m interested in something I’m interested in, so I threw myself into it and swiftly went on to the thesis. I was happy with my paper, and then I forgot about it. It was only when the amazing classmates started to post in our WhatsApp group about the deadline that I remembered that
we were going to a karate gasshuku (course) in London the same weekend. So I packed my laptop with the plan of finding a corner to upload the document, and that would be that.
Four hours of karate later, I was slightly knackered but in a pub with Tooting Karate club and friends who had visited for the gasshuku. So why is this a story? Well, see, I was just about to upload my paper when I realised that my reference list was…yup… on a different machine back at the house. The only time I have ever not put everything on the cloud. There was nothing for it; I had to re-create the list from the document at high speed; thankfully, the food took a while and somehow, I managed it—the paper was submitted with the knowledge that I would have to
repeat it at some point. I was far from happy, but I hadn’t missed the deadline.
Finding participants for my thesis was ridiculously simple. I’ve heard horror stories where participants were challenging to recruit or didn’t show up to their interviews. I put the word out
and in a few days, I had my interviewees lined up. Now I’ve been interviewing for many many years but for some reason, I had some anxiety. The first interview steadied my nerves and was a great interview, with lots of information sharing and really interesting comments. There was one problem, I did hit record on my phone and the wonderful red button showed that the recording was progressing… but my phone was connected to the earphones that I had left on my desk. Rookie error. After that, every interview had at least 2 recording devices.
My participants were all Peloton users and they were really enthusiastic to share their experiences. I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people who were very happy to share their life stories, which I have to say helped me a huge amount with my study.
By the time the day count hit the 50 mark I was about to start the data analysis part. Insert a huge wall. I hit this wall at high speed. I had no idea how to go about this next piece of work, I won’t get into the qualitative analysis process that Mr Mayring developed and the shiver every time I hear the name. No disrespect to the man, just this was a process that was gifted to those of us on the course and we were not “taught” much about it. This isn’t an article to bash the University, more on that another time.
So I have been around long enough to know how I learn, patterns etc. that sort of stuff comes easily to me. When I don’t get something and I’ve invested some time but still don’t get it… then I get frustrated, which is then followed quickly by anger and finally if I don’t get it either tears or I walk away.
I thought of walking away a lot. For an entire week, I was stuck. Boy did I faff. I don’t know how, but just as I was pretty resigned to the fact that I was not going to finish this thesis, I got a message from my wonderful friend in Germany. Somehow she knew just when to reach out and the conversations we had really helped to clarify what I needed to do and how much I had to get my arse in gear and get some words down.
I decided to submit my thesis a day early. Definitely didn’t need the reminders. 15 days before the new deadline I had no conclusion, no… well there were lots of bits missing. I also had a new job. The UK has a series of bank holidays and well…Easter was also very helpful gifting me days to write. I took the decision to miss weekends away and as pages were written I had a wonderful reader who, armed with his red pen spotted the myriad of mistakes I’d made and highlighted the paragraphs where I had clearly lost it.
On the 14th of May, I arrived home from Karate, had food and then printed the 5 pages of instructions that outlined how this upload would work. I should admit to getting a bit anxious and missing some of the on-screen buttons, but in the end… with help…(thank you again) I had uploaded to several sites, added all the information to different portals and then realised I needed to actually post documents on a USB drive!
Now we wait. I’ve no idea if what I have written is going to pass, I’m reminded of something that my secondary school teacher said to me. We had mock exams before our Leaving Certificate (A levels in the UK) and were in the process of getting our results. Now I thought I had written a good essay and was actually looking forward to getting it back. Each of us was to go to her desk at the top of the class and she would make some comments and give advice etc. Apparently, I had a “clumsy composition style”, words that came as she thrust my essay across her table. She didn’t even look at me but managed to warn me that if my grades didn’t come up “you won’t amount to anything”. No help, no direction just that line.
I’ve never forgotten that. I sometimes want to give her the benefit of the doubt that actually she was making sure I would go on to be OK, but I did get the impression that she wasn’t my greatest supporter.
Why is this relevant? Well, I never thought that I would get this thesis done, but it is, I was lost many times and felt like giving up, but I didn’t. So now, it’s OK if I don’t pass, I’ve learned loads and achieved more than I thought possible, which makes it a win in my book!