Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Doing Essays

I’m supposed to be writing an essay. In just over two weeks I’ve got two of the damn things to hand in, and I’ve yet to choose a topic for the second one.

If you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I started writing on Saturday. It’s now Tuesday. I have written less than forty words.

The problem isn’t the question, or the topic, or even the research I have neglected to do. The problem is me. Me and my overpowering levels of self-doubt.

The lecturers, for the past few weeks, have gone on and on about how we are expected to produce a higher standard of written work than we were at undergraduate level. They’ve made a point of telling us that we need to research more, we need to be clearer, we need to give the impression that we know our subject inside and out…

That’s bloody terrifying, isn’t it?

To make things slightly worse, last week we were given a way out. Apparently, if we would prefer not to do quite as many essays, we can change our qualification to a PgDip or Postgraduate Diploma. In career terms, it wouldn’t affect any of us. We would be able to apply for the same jobs, at the same rate of pay, as those who choose to do a Masters as long as – and this is the bit that killed it for me – we stay in the same industry for the rest of our lives.
So if I suddenly decided that I was in the wrong job, and wanted to go in a different direction altogether, my PgDip would be rendered meaningless. A Masters degree, however, is universally recognised as BRILLIANT and will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life. In theory. And only if you choose to completely disregard the current jobs market, as I am actively doing.

Continuing with my Masters degree is the obvious choice, of course. OF COURSE IT IS. But these bloody essays have been driving me up the wall. So, more than once, I have contemplated changing my qualification. Not seriously enough to actually do anything about it, but seriously enough to back away from the essay and watch Titanic.

And then it occurred to me – I AM WELL CLEVER.

The stuff the lecturers have been saying has not been aimed at me. Not even a bit. It’s been aimed at the people who genuinely struggle with academic work, to give them a chance at the career they want. Not at the people who have got themselves into a flap because they can’t settle down for longer than ten minutes.

I’ve been worrying for nothing. I am an intelligent person. I don’t look like it, I rarely act like it and I never ever sound like it, but I am.

I have work to do, obviously. The essays – even with all the will in the world – are not going to write themselves. But I can DO IT.

Probably not when I’m surgically attached to twitter though, unfortunately.