In my house the word “failure” has always been banned. Even when we don’t succeed, we most certainly do not fail. Rather we learn– learn from our mistakes and, ideally, do not repeat them in future endeavors. Therefore, the following is not a guide about failure, but rather a guide regarding how to scurry away from potential success.
As a masochist of sorts, I determined senior year would be the perfect opportunity to put my love of African politics to the test. Enter senior thesis on HIV/AIDS public policy in Botswana, South Africa, and Uganda. At the time of its conception, I was nestled in the ivory tower of great metaphors: Oxford.
In Oxford, I began to believe any academic pursuit was possible. And more importantly, that my individual explorations were beneficial– not just to the institution, but also to myself. I subsequently endeavored to compose a thesis prospectus to send to Wellesley, beseeching them to offer me a position in the honors thesis writing program.
With neither the Beloved Roommate nor the Wandering Asian Gnome to convince me of the sacrifices– both socially and physically– that I would be making in submitting said prospectus, I hit the send key. And with my Oxford college behind me, the Wellesley Political Science Department soon agreed to my request.
Fast forward to the present and I have a well-written thesis chapter, in which I outline my five explanations for African health policy choice– each one more cynical than the next. My thesis advisor even describes me as “the witty, yet bitter old Jewish lady who sits on her front stoop every night and spews sarcasm at those who pass by.” The only part he left out: the cats.
But I digress from the task at hand. Below are a few simple steps you, too, can take should you find yourself in a deep, Starbucks-less thesis-ridden hole. (These last two days of blizzard conditions have prevented me from indulging my coffee addiction, so please excuse my bitterness).
1. Forget Victorian literature. Indulge in something far less intellectually intensive: Jane Austen cartoons, courtesy of the lovely Kate Beaton.
2. Acquire all requisite items needed to write the thesis, such as a Kate Spade laptop case— a throwback to the days of typewriters gone by. Perhaps, if you are feeling particularly daring, learn how to use a typewriter. You’d be surprised at how useful a skill it may be. Imagine typing a typo-less paper…
3. Earn money. Writing a thesis won’t pay my Starbucks tab, but editing high school seniors’ college essays most certainly will. And given my New Year’s Resolution: to consume only one Starbucks venti a day, I may even be able to save a dollar or two to put towards decorating my future cardboard box beside the F train.
*Note: For those wondering why I have chosen the F train, it is because of its convenient location to this. The motto of this aforementioned establishment, “One world. One taste. One knish. That’s it.”
4. Read past issues of The New Yorker, which inevitably have collected dust in my dorm room. And remember, since the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, I’ve had quite a few hours these last few days to play catch up– at least until the New Year, after which I become a slave to the Madeleine Albright Global Affairs Institute. Details on the Institute to shortly follow.
5. Indulge in an actor-specific movie marathon. Pick one actor, preferably one to which you have had limited exposure and rent all the movie said actor has starred in on Netflix. I opted for Spencer Tracy, who I adored in “Woman of the Year,” but have not had the pleasure to experience beyond a 1942 frame. Whether he is wooing Katharine Hepburn or prosecuting Nazis, Tracy manages to bring an incredible magic to his performances.
And if all else fails, and the guilt begins to consume you, consider a future beyond your April due date and start applying for jobs. Or sleep. There is always sleep.