In Between

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156 articles in category In Between / Subscribe

Last year, I won second place of a poster competition and received a $100 gift voucher to be used at the university bookshop. I was so happy. I bought some books and saved the remaining money for another time, thinking that I would buy more books in months to come.

As I’m nearly at the end of my university journey, today I went to the shop with one objective: I would spend the rest of $39.44 and never think of it again.

I didn’t realise the experience would bring me so much pain.

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After submitting that thesis, my life has been put on hold. I’m still not yet done with university—there are two more assignments due on June 7th—but for the most part, I’m living like a college graduate. I cook, I bake, I clean the apartment, I watch TV, I spend the entire morning drinking coffee and staring blankly at ‘Add New Post’ page and I send a few emails.

So what’s on the agenda for this bright and beautiful Monday morning? (I have no work and the sky is literally blue; I can say that it’s a beautiful Monday.)

Today, the agenda is decluttering.

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Two years ago, I wrote and published a short ebook titled Swimming with The Sharks. It was a 20,000-word PDF file containing stories of my life after graduation—how I got my first full-time job and threw it away, and how I got my second full-time job and threw it away. Ah, life was good.

Two years later, like all writers out there, I Googled my own name to see what the world know about me. (Ahem, don’t tell me you’ve never Googled your own name before.) I found my website, my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter account and this: a Goodreads page on my ebook.

There was a review on it, a good one, and I was excited. I took a screenshot and sent it to my fiancée. He disappeared from the What’sApp chat for two minutes. The next thing I knew, he had straightaway went to Goodreads to rate the book.

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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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