The worth of defeated valour

I received my thesis corrections yesterday from my supervisor, after a month long of ruminating its fate in his hands. Honestly now I that looked at it, I had no idea why I was so worried about it, seeing I knew I have done the job well. There were some disconnections between the theories and the research questions of which my supervisor wanted me to have a look at. “It’s normal,” he said, adding, “even during viva voces people still have these problems sometimes.” “But I want you to walk in the oral defense fully prepared with all we know, so please have a look over my suggestions.” The rest of the list were minor — past vs present tense, I missed a figure number, shorten abstract to only one page, add one or two sentences to justify over this part, and so on so forth. We agreed to meet again in two weeks to discuss the final draft before I submit the thesis for examiners.

Over the month in the absence of the submitted thesis, I managed to concoct the worst ever scenarios I could think of in my head of the 300-page research that I had worked on within countless hours (actually I spent about 623 hours on it this year, I have my Toggl report to prove it) — insufficient data? Data analysis method totally wrong? Book written willy-nilly? etc. in which all scenarios require me to start the research all over again. In short, I have failed myself before anyone else does that to me.

I do wonder about why we do this a lot — preparing ourselves for the worst news possible. I always thought that it was so that I would be ready to make room for all the things I needed to do to receive the consequences of these bad news. I lost my dad when I least expected it, so. I set the highest bar for myself and the lowest expectations for praises I would receive even though I knew I have fully dedicated myself to the task, so I wouldn’t be let down. “I know what my misery is capable of and will never underestimate it again”, wrote Saeed Jones in his newsletter, and even though our contexts are different, I realised I am always making myself ready for what my misery could break me — even though I have dealt with enough fires already.

There was this whole Twitter thread on best things people have learned at therapy (also check out Notes From Your Therapist), and this particular tweet came barging through my front door the eve of me receiving my corrections:

I feel seen. It’s a call-out. I swear it’s written specifically for me.

Some related, some not:

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