In Between

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153 articles in category In Between / Subscribe

I walked inside the office room – the room in the corner of the first floor which window looked down directly to the front gate of the university. At one end of the wall was a huge bookcase full of academic books, and at the other end, well, the big window.

Professor Mark sat down on his L-shaped office table, glued to his Mac, as per usual, before he noticed me, smiled and said, ‘Ah, Marcella, come on in.’

I smiled and mumbled that I’ve been good, and put down my two bags and took out a draft of my third chapter. It was the most important part of the thesis. I was so proud of it, but I didn’t know what he would say about it. I had sent the piece on Friday and enjoyed the long weekend. Today was Tuesday, and I would find out the verdict.

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Are you one of those people who are very scared to disappoint people, namely, the sales clerks with whom you have accidentally made an eye contact and now asking for ten minutes of your time to let them talk about a certain item you’re never going to buy, like, ever?

Well, welcome to the club.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in the past few weeks, it’s that the futility of doing something when clearly my heart’s not in it.

I’m quite a fast do-er. Once, I wrote two chapters of my thesis in two days. Of course, I have to rewrite both chapters, but I did do it. I did a same-day kind of highlight video on an event in four hours. For a rookie, I think it was impressive enough. In November last year, I wrote the first draft of a 60,000-word manuscript in three weeks.

(That’s gonna be another story, but I really do have a very exciting news to share. I’ll let you know when I know more about it.)

But most of the times, I do things according to the heart and not the brain, and it means that I work only in the momentum.

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Exactly two months ago I answered a question on Twitter to get a double pass to Melbourne Writers Festival.

I didn’t get notified.

Last month I did a survey for Honda who claimed that they would give away $20k worth of money.

I didn’t get notified.

Last week I did all three survey feedback for my subjects – they said some random students will get some amount of money.

I didn’t get notified.

Some days ago I commented on a Facebook post to get a newly published book.

I didn’t get notified.

Yesterday I submitted a research poster to win an iPhone watch.

I haven’t gotten notified (well, the competition has not ended).

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Author’s note: I wrote this in a sheer spontaneous response to an e-newsletter from the Unimelb: ‘What do you wish you had known?’ Considering that yesterday was probably my last class ever in university (I am planning to do an internship alongside with my thesis next semester), it seems apt to write this.

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There is a reason why Malcolm Gladwell called ten thousand hours the magic number for true expertise. It’s simple: the more hours you put in doing something, the better you get at it.

I didn’t really believe it.

For something that as simple as writing, yeah, maybe. I mean, the only variable that influences bad or good writing is yourself – your creativity, or whatever you want to call it. Being good at other things requires mastering more variables than you can imagine.

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In the final months of graduating my Bachelor’s degree, I have contemplated to do an Honours’ year. The downside to this was I had to do a thesis, and at that time, I totally detest research.

Fast-forward three years and I find myself choosing, voluntarily, to do a minor thesis. These past seven weeks, I find myself being stretched considerably. My boyfriend said, and I quote, ‘This is the first time I’ve seen you being workaholic.’

Considering that this was just the beginning, I shudder. But I realise something else about myself: I actually quite enjoy the journey (thus far).

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Some years ago I did something I truly regretted: I upgraded my 2009 MacBook White operating system. I was not an upgrader. In fact, every time a new upgrade system was available, I would always dismiss the notification, because I know it would eventually lead to the slow death of my faithful laptop.

That day, though, I decided to give it a try. And yes, my Mac slowed down immediately. I tried to resurrect it by replacing the RAM, but eventually I have to face the truth: my Mac is never going to be as fast as before.

Thing is, you need to be careful with upgrading, and this lesson is transferrable to life.

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I see myself as a writer, and occasionally I tell others that I am a writer. Or, more precisely, I tell others that I write. I mean, telling others that I write shows I can produce good writing or bad writing. Telling others I’m a writer means that I should have written well, which I probably have not.

Anyway, considering myself a writer, I decided to go to the Melbourne Writers Festival. Last Sunday, I dragged my faithful boyfriend (because Sunday is our date day), and we sat down on one of the seminars titled, ‘The World According to Short Stories’.

One of the speakers, short-story author Paddy O’Reilly, said this:

How we read people tells so much about us than how we behave.

Yes, it does.

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The sink was full of three-day worth of dishes. I had just finished drinking my coffee, so I did the sensible thing: First, rinse the cup slightly. Second, stack it on top of other plates. Third, avoid looking at the sink for the foreseeable future.

Dishes: out of sight, out of mind.

I went back to sit on my sofa, put my laptop on my lap, and hit refresh. Refresh. Refresh. No email came. Again, refresh. I was waiting for a reply from my supervisor regarding my thesis focus, and I couldn’t do anything useful if he didn’t approve the topic. So refresh. Refresh.

After staring blankly at my laptop for ten minutes, I closed it. I went back to the kitchen to make a cup of green tea, and saw the dirty dishes. Ah, might as well clean them. At least, it would take my mind off other things.

Thesis: out of sight, out of mind.

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