Why I’m not Writing a Dissertation

It was a last minute decision, as always. End of September and I was catching up with my tutors to decide on a dissertation topic for English Language. I didn’t hand in a dissertation proposal before the summer, because decisions and I -well- our relationship is more than complicated.

Once I sat down to think, I came up with a lot of ideas: I love poetry, so why not look at translation and meaning? Then I thought about the blogosphere and twitter: maybe I could write about how we make our own sweet slang in internet spaces? I was pumped to go the library and find some books on translation and language and group identity, you know when you get like a caffeine rush without the coffee? Is it just me? Yeah…I’m too academic.

Anyway, I get myself to the library, pick out a good 5 books on each topic, try and make notes, pick out further reading and realise that – this shit’s really boring. It’s not what I want to do.

I do a joint honours- that means my uni work and grades are split 50:50 between English Language and Creative Writing. At the end of second year I got the option of doing a either a portfolio or a dissertation. The dissertation was my obvious choice. I’ve always been academic and I love spending some time alone in the library with a latte, snacks and books. It’s like a puzzle for me, to try and find the right quotes for an essay. As soon as I had the opportunity, I chose the dissertation as a module.

What I realise now is that I wasn’t picking it because I’m good at the academic stuff, but because I was trying to prove myself. You probably understand what I mean, if you’ve had parents or grandparents, or even close friends who put pressure on you to “be your best.” If you’re like me, you might have been too busy trying to do that. Trying to make someone else happy.

Throughout life, I’ve always asked for advice in decision making. Like I mentioned at the start, I’m not very good at making them. It’s because I, like so many of us, am afraid of the consequences. My university constantly bombards me with “making the right choices” and all forms of social media are screaming out for me to “have a plan” and “go out and achieve your goals.” The news reminds me of how difficult it is to get  job, let alone buy a house. I get lost in all that. When I try and follow it, I’m not me. Do you feel the same sometimes?

I do and it’s the root of a lot of stress. Having to make the right choice, constantly having to race for the best life possible and fit into the ideas others have about you. You start thinking that your friends like you because of your achievements and the idea of who you are. Not who you actually are. 

So, I ask for advice, and as with everything, everyone has their own idea of what’s best for me. I realised this when I was at the library, researching my dissertation. What was I doing? Everyone was trying to tell me their idealised version of myself. All their advice was useless, because they weren’t me. I had to “toughen up” and make decisions for myself. I have before, but this time it was life changing and I needed to do it for myself.

I knew I did the right thing the moment I turned up into my portfolio meeting. A weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was doing what I wanted to do what I loved. I was around people with similar goals. If you’re into anything creative, you know the feeling of relief when you don’t find one, but many people, who see the world your way and want to live creating, contemplating and appreciating.

This academic year is gong to be filled with writing poetry. Something I love to do, and something that I might never get to do to this extent again. What’s better, I’m not loosing out on employment opportunities. I still have an academic essay to write along side it. The portfolio is still a long term project, with it’s own time management, note taking and research that also has a creative angle.

It took me a long time, but I can finally say I’m making my own decisions in life and I’m not afraid to take risks. As cliche and over used as that sentence sounds. I wish you find the power within yourself to do the same. If we have this on life, it’s worth trying to achieve our goals in no other way than by being yourself. How do you find and become yourself? Part of it is making your own decision, but the rest is an idea for another post.

Here’s what to think about when making decision:

All of my thoughts summed up in a more palletable way:

  1. Never stop yourself because you’re afraid of failure
  2. Failure in your eyes might be success in another’s
  3. Live your life for yourself and nobody else
  4. Don’t give into the scare tactics of the people and media around you
  5. Don’t do anything just to impress
  6. Don’t follow something you don’t enjoy.

What are your thoughts on decision making? Have you had a last minute turn in life like that?

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34 Comments

  • Sophie

    I love this post! I’m awful at making decisions and put so much pressure on myself like it’s the end of the world if I ever get it slightly wrong! These tips are spot on!x

    • Alicja

      Tell me about it! It took me such a long time to get it unto my head that I don’t need be spot on with my decisions and I am in fact really young. After all, life is about living it not having it perfectly planned out like in The Sims.

  • Savana

    Decision making is crucial, I used to get swayed so much and easily just to accommodate others. Till I realised I had to do what I felt most comfortable with. I love how you encourage taking risks, risks often can pay off.

    • Alicja

      Yes! I’ve been there, trying to accommodate for people that weren’t affected by my decisions. I think it’s better to live with the consequences of your own choices rather than those of others.

  • Rebecca Rose

    I was the same, I spent too much time doing things to make other people happy, I heard a great quote yesterday…’Don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm’ Im glad you’re following your heart. Great post and really well written xx

    • Alicja

      Thanks 🙂 That’s a good quote! You’ll end up loosing all of your own heat trying to do that. I go by a one I don’t remember word for word, but basically you’re the only one who is going to live with the consequences of your decisions, not the person you ask for advice.

  • Sophie

    University can be a stressful nightmare environment I defiantly don’t miss mine. I made the mistake of choosing something I didn’t enjoy so found it hard. I love taking new risks and adventures now! I follow my heart what feels right! Xxx

  • Lena Dee

    I simply love this post! I always put pressure on myself or transfer pressure from high expectations and sometimes it can leave me quite a wreck. I relate to this post so much like when I was deciding to go straight to do my masters because my mother was strongly pushing me to. But in the end I made MY decision not to force a degree that wasn’t right for me.

    • Alicja

      Thanks for reading, and well done for perusing what you wanted to do for yourself, it’s great to know. I’m glad you made your own decision. Sometimes I have to stop myself and think- hang on- who am I doing this for? We could all use more courage to be ourselves and not base our decisions on the idea’s our parents or others have about us.

  • Johara Ally

    I’m doing my masters next year so I’ll have to choose a dissertation topic too. So yeah, I’m sorta in the same predicament🙈. Really glad things worked out for you😊! Hope the same happens for me.
    xx

    • Alicja

      Thank you, it’s a list worth considering when you’re making decisions, but by all means tweak it for yourself. It’s your decision!

  • Erika

    I’m really glad that you made the best decision for you instead of what you thought was expected. We do things sometimes because it’s what people want and not because it’s what makes us happy. It sounds like you made the right choice 😊

    • Alicja

      Thank you for reading. It is so difficult to cut of all external influence and ask yourself “Is this what I really want for myself.” I encourage everyone to do that.

  • Leann Kelly

    It sounds like you’ve picked the right route for you & I’m so happy to read that you felt the weight lift of your shoulders immediately. Good luck with the rest of your studies.

  • harriet

    I was exactly the same in my third year. I was split 50:50 with English Lit and Creative Writing. Combined is such a difficult course! So I share your pain there. I ended up doing the opening of a novel instead of a disso, which was equally as hard, but preferable if that makes sense? Good luck though! Just get as many people as possible to proof read your work; students and teachers alike ha. xxx

    • Alicja

      Thanks for reading and the advice! It deffo is just as hard, just a thousand times ore enjoyable for me personally. At least the course made me realise which subject I preferred. I am trying to meet with my tutor and group every week, trying to really dive in. I was considering doing the start of a novel, as I am pretty alright at prose (and actually have an idea). What was yours about?

  • Chloe

    Hi, I glad that you took the right decision after deciding that the dissertation was not for you. I love the six tips at the end of the post. Failure in your eyes may be success to others, I think we should always think this way and try to be positive.

    • Alicja

      Thanks for the feedback Chloe, I think it’s important to understand all our achievements are relative, and it’s the sum of the things that we do which matter.

  • Amy

    I’m awful at decision making, but I don’t think I’ve had any as difficult as this! The only one I can think of is refusing to do a more advanced course of maths at school this year even though my parents wanted me to, as it would mean I couldn’t do Spanish if I had. I really hope your portfolio goes well 💜
    Amy xx
    http://www.goldenbooksgirl.wordpress.com

    • Alicja

      Thanks for reading Amy, some decisions might look small to other but be very big for you. I hope you made the right one. I am fitting into mine still, but I trust my intuition in that it was the right choice.

  • Hannah Kaye

    I literally cried when I finished reading this post because I connect with it so much. I’m in my 2nd year but we always have options on essays and I always choose academic even though I constantly end up with high 2:2 for them. I need to start pushing myself out of this zone and start choosing to follow my creative options because at the end of the day, I always enjoy them more.

    Thank you

    • Alicja

      Thanks for reading Hannah, I’m glad you could relate to my experience. I hope you find the courage to give your passion a go. If you never try it, you will never know how successful you could be. It’s a high risk, but I think the possible gain is worth it. x

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