A Story About The Conqueror and The Hopeful

It has been a festive week for students, indeed. Dissertation submission deadline have passed for plenty of people, but it’s still approaching for some. The traffic of hard work, the hustle and bustle of fear and anxiety, were past for those who post pictures on their social media containing a cup of hot chocolate right beside their dissertation. But the happiness is yet to come for those who are slowly losing their mind as the due date approaches. Nevertheless, the last couple of weeks had been a crazy one.

Mandatory picture of people holding their dissertation in front of their university’s landmark, has been filling up my Facebook timeline. I name them the conqueror. They smile, they laugh, they thank nearly everyone that supports them and making their dreams come true. Some of them are genuinely happy and simply wanted to show to the world how they work pays off, but, I will not lie to you, that there were many that was just simply humble-bragging. But, I am not going the be drawn in the discussion about whose effortless and whose trying too much though. For both classes, I feel extremely entertain just to see their posts.

On the flipside of the coin, there are still plenty of my colleagues that rant in their social media, saying that they’re becoming highly sensitive as the submission deadline comes nearer day-by-day. I call them the hopeful. In such a desperate time, however, their creative mind are getting more and more stimulated. They posts many memes that show their daily struggle, coping with academic obstacles as a final year student. But, for those who are panicky, handling such pressure was not as easy as one might think. Lots of my colleagues just simply disappear from the virtual world; they weren’t updating any status, they cannot be reached even through private line, let alone posting memes nor pictures. In any case, my thoughts and prayers are with you, the warriors of deadline.

There’s one silver lining that I could learn from the whole real-life drama that surrounds me this past week: that the conqueror always thank anybody else except their own selves. The conqueror – almost each and every one of them – tends to thank the surroundings and gave very little credit for themselves. They thank God, they thank their parents, they thank their husband or wife, they thank their kids, and so on. The conqueror thank God for giving them His hand during hardship; the conqueror thank their parents for giving guidance in every step of their way; or they thank their kids for giving inspiration throughout the conqueror’s journey. And I found such behavior deeply problematic.

First thing first, I am not saying that we must not be thankful for our surroundings; for the environment that enables us to learn, grow, and achieve greatness in one’s life. I read (a whole lot) the writings of Antonio Gramsci and I’m deeply enlightened by them. And one of the conclusion that one could draw after reading Gramsci is that every human being’s action is highly influenced by the interconnectivity of idea, material capabilities, as well as institutions. Our actions are the result of complex relations between those three objects. Ideas oftentimes sprout from our mind’s magnification of nature and, simultaneously, shaped by various social constraints produced by various kinds of institutions. Material capabilities, such as the nature, technology, or the people ourselves, will be much wasted if there’s no realization upon its importance or if there’s no policy that regulates the use of the material capabilities so that it will function accordingly. Lastly, an institution will not matter if there’s no support from material power and ideas. To simply sum this up, I believe that people must take into account the surroundings.

Therefore, the problem lies on how little people value themselves. Not how people overvalue others.

I do realize how hard it is to write your dissertation. You need to fulfill many academic requirements in order to finish your project. Different topics require different techniques, different cases need different approaches, and different methods lead to different conclusion. Each one of us struggles to maintain consistency of our logics. We have to make sure that our arguments are consistent from start to finish while we’re also challenged to keep it exciting. Tables, graphics, and charts are details that one have to face in order to present a representative yet concise data sets. All of them need a meticulous effort that comes from within you.

Not infrequently that doubt creeps in our mind; that we question ourselves about our effort and the expected final result. The hopeful are suddenly not as hopeful as I named them when pessimism sprouts abruptly. But, then again, each one of us know that pursuing a degree is a choice and finishing it is a commitment. When we decided to go to college or taking a Master’s program, we made it by being rational: we wanted to be enrolled in a program, in a university that could best serves our interests and suitable for our style of learning. Once we are selected into our preference, the journey inside it is another chapter. It requires commitment to read hundreds of literatures, reviewing each one of them, submitting your assignments, and finishing your research project. And yet, each one of us still hold on to it very dearly with the hope that at the end of the day, a degree would help us to help others.

It is you, my dear friends, that pick yourselves up every single morning just to write down a couple hundreds of words in your dissertation. It is you, the hopefuls, that sleep late at night just to spend extra time to read more journals and hoping that somehow, in some way, you will be re-enlightened. It is you, the chasers of dreams, that oftentimes thank too many people and let the guard down on yourselves. It is you that need to give credit to yourself because nobody else would do it.

Because ‘in a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.’

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