Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Been there, but...

It's 5:37pm, on a Wednesday.

I've just finished going through the final drafts of two of my students' dissertations, and have sat down with them and discussed the required corrections and amendments to be made.

I'm halfway done with another one, after which I have to go through another draft, and I hope to sit down with the respective students by tomorrow afternoon.

One student has decided to submit her dissertation before going through her final drafts with me. I had gone through her first and second drafts and had given my feedback to her last week and I hope she had done whatever it was that needed to be done as per my last instructions to her.

However, another student has never submitted any proper drafts. The only thing I got from her were bits and pieces of unfinished works. Heck! I have not even seen her full dissertation proposal. They are supposed to submit their bound copies this week, and this student decided to submit her FIRST draft of her First and Second Chapters on Friday last week. Mind you, even those drafts were NOT complete.

I REFUSED to accept her drafts, and I have decided to put a disclaimer on her work. I have nothing to do with whatever it is that she plans to submit. Good Luck to her.

Their dissertations are supposed to be their final works to be submitted before they sit for their exams later this month, and graduate in August. It's a partial requirement before they get their B.A. (Strategic and Defence Studies). Their first Degree. If they don't submit, they will fail. If they submit a mediocre or a bad piece of work, they will get really bad grades for it. Or they will fail. Either or, it'll affect their CGPAs. If they have to resit the paper, they'll lose out on one year of working life.

I have six students under my supervision, and all of them, except for the last girl, had managed to produce at least up to their second drafts, while a couple had even managed to work up until their fourth drafts. So, I just don't understand why this last student of mine couldn't even submit her PROPOSAL.

Believe me. I understand just how difficult it is to do research and even more difficult to write an academic work, as I had gone through hell (and I'm still not sure if I'm back!) doing it.

I had gone through very challenging rollercoaster rides working on a certain research of mine, many a times I was met with dead-ends. Many a times - frustrated. Many a times too depressed to even talk about it with anyone. Not even with Ayah. And many a times, I would just shut everything down, wishing that I didn't have to pursue it anymore.

Many a times, everything else had to be sidelined, even things which were more important to me than my research. And many a times I would ask myself if it was all worthed it, whether it was really what I wanted.

At the end of the day, weighing everything that needed to be weighed before deciding on whether to continue or not with it, I finally made my decision. It was a difficult decision to make initially, considering the substantial amount of work I had put in it, and the considerable long time I had spent on it. And of course, because whatever decision I made, it would have major implications on me. Implications that I have to face.

But, frankly, it was an easier decision to make in letting it go, than to pursue with it.

And I finally made my decision because I knew that I was READY to face the implications, come what may. But, more importantly, I made my decision because I knew that it was not really what I had wanted to do all along.

I had come to realize that I am at a stage in my life whereby any pursuits to further enhance my career is not really a necessity, but rather, a frill.

I had come to a stage in my life whereby whatever that comes my way after this is a bonus.

I am contented as I feel that I had achieved whatever it was that I needed to achieve. Well, at least according to my own, personal wish and target. Syukur alhamdulillah. Nothing else matters. Nothing others might think of me, matters.

And I know that I have made the right decision.

Maybe this student of mine has been or is going through the same things. And having gone through similar experience of doing research, albeit at a different level, and probably facing similar obstacles and challenges as she is/has, I can empathise with her, and I can understand some of the issues which might have made it difficult for her to persevere.

But, empathising will not change the fact that she still has a long way to go in life.

There's only so much I can do to help her, and even that will not amount to anything if she doesn't want to help herself.

She probably had made the same decision I had made in not pursuing or not persevering...but it does not necessarily mean that she would come out of this the same as I did.

I hope this student of mine has also thought of the implications of her actions, or rather - inactions.

I hope she will not have any regrets...

Because, just for the record, I don't.


rad said...

Salam Shana,
Do you mean what I think you meant at the end? *rad is a little lost here with regards to your 'decision'* Maybe I miss the earlier boat/entry when you were discussing the issue.

wanshana said...

Salam Rad,

Yes, I think you thought the right thing :) And no, you didn't really miss the earlier boat as I had never really expressly written about it. Just some hints here and there.

I have decided to throw in the towel for my PhD as there were so many dead-ends. Due to my politically sensitive area of research, I just couldn't get the core materials for my thesis. And the powers that be were not really helping much (or rather at all!)

But, no regrets at all. I'm much, much happier and calmer than I've been for the last 5 years :)

It wasn't something that I had wanted to pursue, but rather because I was asked to do it.

It's not the end of the world, and Ayah is behind me on this decision.

He just wanted me to be happy again. and in his own words, he said, "I want you to be happy again. The kids and I need you to be happy" :)

And I am :)

ummi365 said...

Shana, after reading your reply above, so this has got to do with the FB status you had a few months back? I guess if you are happy letting it go and others want to see you happy, then be happykan. don't regret it.

wanshana said...


Yes. No regrets at all :)

The only regret maybe was why I took so long to decide to let it go when I knew all along I didn't want to pursue it any longer.

Could have been freed of all my sufferings, and could have embarked on so many missed opportunities in the last 5 years, much, much earlier! :)

rad said...

Shana, it must have been difficult for you to eventually came out with that final decision but bravo!
So what if you didn't finish it? There's a lot more to life beyond phd kan? Definitely you're happier, and your family too. Ada hikmah semua yang berlaku. I've got friends too who had quitted, changed courses, etc. - they just move on with life, a much better life *this call for a toast!* ;-)

wanshana said...


Thank you :)

Yes, Insya Allah ada hikmahnya. And Yes, there's more to life than the PhD. Of course, it would be nice to have the title, but, it's just not meant to be :)

I had other things going on in life in the last 5 years which took priorities.

A colleague said that I was very strong to have let it go. Not many would have opted for that. But, I guess, it's not so much of me being strong, but, rather - me not being strong enough to let go of other important things in my life for the PhD :)

Hey, who knows? Nanti when I feel I want to do it later on, you can be my supervisor? ;)


IBU said...

Salam Shana,

I dulu pun rajin jugak TAK submit progressively 1st draft or 2nd draft. Just the initial framework, then mengadap lecturer(s), looked (or rather pretend to) like very keen to hear their steer on what good looks like for the meat & the final output.

Pastu, hampeh.... hibernate. I mean, hibernating the "ideas" (konon) inside my head sampai benjol2 kepala.

Pastu, as usual, last minute sprint. Adoi.....

Tapi thrilling la buat last minute nih ..... hehehe


ummi365 said...

Adoi I baca comment IBU memang nak gelak sakan. Bila kita dah selalu buat last minute dulu dulu kala, laa ni bila anak buat last minute marahkan. But we survived jugakkan. Jadi orang jugakkan.. hehehe. Habis agaknya macam mana kita nak instill discipline kat anak ya. I know I am one of them yang suuuuukaa procrastinate.

wanshana said...


You're not alone there. Kita sama club ;) Hehehe!

The difference is - we know that we work better and EXCEL under extreme pressure, and at the end of the day, we deliver ;)

wanshana said...


So far, anak-anak I semua ikut I - semua buat last minute! But, syukur alhamdulillah, when it comes to completing their work and delivery, they follow me, too. So far, so good.

Can't nag to much because BOTH Ayah and I pun kaki procrastinate jugak. How?! ;)

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Superwomanwannabe said...

Hi Shana!

It took guts for you to give it up, so bravo!

But the girl yang tak buat apa ke sama situation or just plain malas

Attitude bebudak nowadays...isk isk isk..We did do last minute work but then it was good work . (ceh perasan). The kids nowadays banyak yang tangkap muat je..

of course, that could be my age showing.

Superwomanwannabe said...

Hi Shana!

It took guts for you to give it up, so bravo!

But the girl yang tak buat apa ke sama situation or just plain malas

Attitude bebudak nowadays...isk isk isk..We did do last minute work but then it was good work . (ceh perasan). The kids nowadays banyak yang tangkap muat je..

of course, that could be my age showing.