Letting it go

Letting it go
Photo by Ankush Minda / Unsplash

I've always excelled in everything I set my mind to.

And as awesome as it may sound, it comes at a cost.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do for my Master's thesis, as it would build on what I'd written for my bachelor's and go towards what I'd do for my PhD. It's been brewing inside of my mind for the better part of the last 4 years.

But as my mentor said, we have 4 months, not 4 years to do it.

Pursuing this idea for my Master's has made me very anxious in the past few months, leading to analysis paralysis and not being able to even start writing it.

I have felt all the emotions, all the pressures, at once.

Failure. Disappointment. Not being able to "stick to it".

Yesterday, after trying my best to try and explain to my mentor how we could get this done in 4 months, whilst driving in a tram, a thought entertained my mind.


Why are you so stubborn with wanting to write about that particular thing that is truly a PhD-level thing, and not something you could do with the time you have available in the next four months.


I found myself not having an answer as strong enough that it would justify the amounts of anxiety it provided me with.

A1: I am doing it because it's an idea that would change an industry for the better, as it would improve everyday life.

Sure. But for that to work, you need to have more than 4 months and 2 startups on your hands. Next!

A2: I am doing it because I have been thinking about it for the last 4 years and developing the idea in my mind.

The idea's not going anywhere (most probably). Even if someone does it before you, you'll find something new. Next!

A3: I... I am doing it to show people who haven't thought highly of me what I'm capable of producing.

Oooooh, now we're onto something! This is juicy. Okay. Yes, you've had a lot of experiences where people put you down. Where they either thought you were lousy or were afraid of your capabilities so they downplayed everything you accomplished.

I understand you want to show them your best work. The level of high-level innovation you are capable of producing. But at what cost?

At the cost of being constantly anxious, not being able to properly sleep, losing connection with food, stressing all the time, stretching yourself thin and having your personal and professional lives suffer, to always doubting what you're doing because you're constantly hearing their voices in the background?

Not worth it.

Whatever you write, whether the idea's big or small, people will make of it what they want to make of it. It can be the most revolutionary idea yet, yet some may say it's unfounded and dismiss it away.

So, I ask you again. Why?

As this monologue happened inside my mind, with music playing in the background, I felt a sense of release.

I started toying with the idea of "doing the bare minimum", which in 9/10 times ends up being "higher than average" in my case, and not torturing myself with this perceived idea of excellence.

On one hand, yes, I'm a bit annoyed that a 4-month Master thesis work won't have any true mastery in it, the way that I perceive mastery anyways. That probably shifted entirely to the PhDs (a bit jealous).

On the other hand - maybe this came for me at exactly the right time. As a sign to step away, to be able to get an amazing degree without the blood, sweat, and tears. To have the cake and eat it too.

Am I learning to... Let go?
Be less than excellent?

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