Before anything else, I would just say something about this blog… and me. It has already been nearly two an a half years since I started this blog site, and somehow, today, I felt distant from it. I don’t know what that feeling is, but today, I just want to write something raw and honest.
If you’ve been following me on social media, or if you’ve been reading here in my blog for so long now, you might have known that I’m currently doing grad school. I’m yet on my early 20s, part of the youngest millennial group, and I guess it’s the age where most people start to experience dreadful thoughts about their future, about how their job right now might not be what’s meant for them, or about starting a family of their own. Few of my friends already got married, others enjoy traveling and hiking, savoring their liberty as part of the singles community (although it’s hard nowadays due to the pandemic), few of them already landed into and transferred to a job after job after job, trying to find the “God’s best” in this area. And others are like me, still struggling with academics.
I was supposed to graduate last June, if not for this pandemic. Actually, I’m not even sure if I was gonna make it even without COVID going on. I’ve already finished all my course requirements but thesis. Yes, I’ve been doing thesis since the beginning of this year. I can really say that, for months, I’ve been so unproductive. I’ve not reached the standard that I’m supposed and ought to perform. Many days where I just cannot do anything but lie awake, or mindlessly watch a movie or series and then wonder why I didn’t understand the story line.
As of this writing, I am just running my code in MATLAB. This is what takes most of my time because, since I’m most unstable mentally this year, I can hardly find the error for days. Some of my mistakes took me a week before I figure out where the fudgin’ line was the error coming from. Thankfully, I’m slowly moving forward now. Aside from that, my laptop got her own problems, too. It often times experience blue errors that leave me waiting for hours for it to fix herself.
If I’d make excuses, I’d blame this pandemic for not letting me go to the library (it’s always the best place to finish something; it had been my home in the campus) and for not letting me do leisure that I used to do alone (like staying in the coffee shop reading a book or watching Disney movies at the cinema). I’d also blame this government for being the main source of my anger and stress. Then I’d blame my laptop for screwing my progress while my code is running.
Yet those do not pass as excuses, honestly. This quarantine season is supposed to give me more time to process and finish stuff. Even if I sleep a whole lot of 8 hours and cook, eat, take a bath, clean the apartment, and do laundry for a total of 3-4 hours, I still have 12-13 hours left to hustle with my thesis. Yet half a year have passed and I’m still here, unable to finish anything.
A friend of mine messaged me not too long ago. She said that she is unable to do her thesis, too. I asked her if she’s stuck somewhere OR if she already know what she’s supposed to do but just can’t do it, like, there’s no motivation, feeling melancholic about her work, and just feeling unwell about all that’s happening.
She said it’s the latter. And I felt exactly the same. I already know what I should do, I already got my list, my thesis has results now, and my code is already running well, but I just can’t do it. I just can’t write my manus and organize it all. As I was thinking about this, I remembered the Dunning-Kruger and Impostor Syndrome.
The Dunning-Kruger effect, in a gist, means overestimating yourself’s abilities about something even when in reality, you are not really capable to do it. It’s being so confident in a job that you have no knowledge about. The Impostor Syndrome on the other hand is quite the opposite. It is the feeling of being undeserving of your achievements because you think you just got it by luck, not by your own efforts; it’s a feeling of being a “fraud”. It’s also manifested when you think something should be easy but it’s taking you time to figure it out, which then leads you into thinking that you’re not good enough. (You can look them up at google for a more detailed definition.)
After I talked to my friend, I realize that I am having those two. Well, not simultaneously, but for the past few weeks, what makes me hold back from moving forward is that I think my thesis is not worthy for a master’s degree. It’s seems too easy and it feels like, even when I’m going to pass this, I won’t be worthy of the diploma that I’ll be receiving.
This thought goes back to “Maybe masters isn’t even meant for me in the first place. I was just lucky to get the admission and get accepted for a scholarship.”
Right. Now that, I guess, is the Impostor Syndrome.
Overthinking goes a long way. Whenever I think I am a fraud in this area, when I let myself believe that I’m not cut out for this, this thought comes around after: “Maybe I just thought too highly of myself while applying for this degree.” I might’ve thought two years ago that I could make it through masters, and that I’m capable enough to finish it.
My Impostor Syndrome makes myself believe that I’m failing today because I had the Dunner-Kruger effect before I entered this season.
Undergoing those cognitive phenomena at this age might somehow be common, maybe others just don’t know what they’re called. It’s worse at this time because while you’re there stressing out with these phenomenons, you can see others having fun and enjoying life. It’s because social media has become an avenue to share the positive side of your life while keeping the negative events on the other side of the screen.
The truth is we all are going through something difficult, but what’s dangerous now is that not all people can realize that truth immediately while scrolling online. It’s easy for envy to come first, especially to those people who are not yet stable in their life, those who are still continually struggling with life’s choices today, those whose purpose and life’s direction are not yet known to them. Those people my age.
Let me speak life and truth from here on. These words are also my personal convictions, so let’s move forward and grow together.
The more we observe others, the lesser we can see what God is doing in our lives.
It’s funny because we’re just looking at a small rectangular light emitting screen and yet it affects us so much, emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Our stress inwardly will always have physical manifestations. Looking at other’s blissful events on a screen steals away the time for prayer of believing God for breakthroughs that you’ve wanted. It kills away the joy that’s meant for you to celebrate in this season of your life. It destroys your supposed to be fertilizer for your growth at this point of your life.
Looking at others is the very reason why we have Dunning-Kruger and Impostor Syndrome at some moments in our lives. As for my thesis journey, it was because I was looking unto my peers’ success, how they graduated on time, how their thesis topic is just amazing and so interesting, how they are so confident about it… and I’m not, and on those who already landed on high paying jobs.
Others will always have a different journey than you, like how we are all different from physical attributes to our personalities. In grad school, even when you’re on the same major, there’s still vast ocean of different topics, each one interesting in their own. In your life, God has a lot of things up His sleeve for you. There’s no scarcity of amazing and interesting breakthroughs, and they’re all purposeful.
Let me share a quote that’s very important at this point. “God didn’t bring you there just to leave you there.”
You see, God always puts purpose to everything that He has allowed to happen. Every season, even the driest one you think you have, has a purpose of its own. Don’t waste it away by looking at others. Don’t throw the opportunity to seek the Lord and receive rain. God is ready to show you something, it’s up to you to believe and watch closely.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Seeking the Lord’s wisdom will give us peace wherever we are.
Personally, I got few reasons why I would not ask the Lord about His will sometimes. One is I’m afraid that His will is far from what I want. Another reason is it might take me longer before I will reach the happiness that I want, the breakthrough that I want to happen. Others are already far ahead, what if it would take me longer when I follow His path?
We just want to live up to others, to try to belong, to also have what they have coz maybe we’d be happy also, even when it’s not really for us. So, we do it on our own, with our own strength, our own capabilities.
However, what I realize with this narrative is that there is really no peace in place where God does not want you to be in. Even when you do everything, copy other’s way to it, try so hard to have it, and even when you already get what you’ve wanted, you won’t have peace unless it has the Lord’s confirmation.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
The Lord promises that He gives peace to those who trust and stay in His presence. Whenever I try so hard to keep up with others, it would just be a bad kind of striving, because there’ll be no peace after all.
The only way to defeat those cognitive phenomenons is through fixing our hearts to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and staying with Him through the faith that He gives.
I know that sometimes, it would still take a long process and that it would need a matter of time, but I’m grateful that I can always trust Him along the way. I’m still continually believing God despite my small progress on my thesis. It is only by His grace that I can take those small steps each day without getting upset and without hating myself over it. Actually, it is even because of His grace that I am able to do grad school. There’s no point in pondering on the what ifs and what could have beens because I know I am where I’m meant to be today. It is even by His grace that I’m here where I’m at right now. If I recognize His grace, the Impostor Syndrome has no place in me.
I’m still up for something beautiful and surprising in this season, for His glory. While I trust in everything that He’s doing in my heart, I’m gonna praise Him in the place where I’m at today. I’m gonna honor Him by doing my thesis with excellence, the best way I can with the abilities that He gave me.
As what my one of my favorite quotes says, “Until God opens the door, praise Him in the hallway.”
God has given us the ability to do the things we’re meant to do today. While we wait on the breakthroughs, let’s praise Him by doing things with love (1 Cor. 16:14).