Monstrous Thoughts

My worst enemy is the monster inside my head.

That monster is the most disgusting creature I can imagine. It seeks to take my heart and soul. With its split tongue, it can only speak ill of me and convince me that I am not good enough and that I do not belong here.

I have been fighting it for so long, I cannot remember when it first appeared.

It wants to eat me up alive. It has been injuring me with its sharp claws that it pierce through my heart. Its screech is so loud that it drowns out all my thoughts. It viciously attacks me, making me bleed and bruise. With pure weariness, that it would crawl back into its lair in the deepest valley of my mind.

I’ve fought it so many times but it won’t seem to die. It would watch me and attack me when I’m weak. It would push me to edge of the cliff and tell me, ‘do it, jump’.

I refused out of pure cowardice to hurt myself and not the bravery to fight this monster.

It would bite me on my legs so I would not be able to run away. With a pierced heart, I lay in my own blood unable to move. It would tell me not to speak for it will harm my loved ones. This monster is viscious, it would not slaughter me at once but it would injure me and let that pain torture me slowly.

I know that there is no prince in shining armor that would come and save me. I know this monster won’t go away until it has my soul. I have to fight this powerful monster on my own even when Hope that is my dagger is reduced to fragments of broken glass.

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When is it appropriate to talk about politics?

This has been the question on my mind for a long time.

As I was growing up, I quickly realized that Thailand is not a place where you can openly talk about your political views. I grew up in a tumultuous time in Thai politics when there was an extreme political division to the extent that it was even dangerous to talk about politics in public space because you might get into fights with people who disagreed with you. My parents told me multiple times not to talk or ask about politics in public because they feared that some people might overhear us and it might spark an argument. I have also been advised that I should not talk about politics with my friends because it can ruin our friendships.

It’s too often that I hear the phrase, “let’s not talk about politics right now, it’s a sensitive topic”. So, when is it appropriate to talk about politics? To whom can I talk to about politics?

After living in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, I have come to realize that this is not so much of a problem in these two countries. As politics students, my friends and I often exchange political memes and tag each other interesting political news even we had different political views. I was able to have political conversations with my non-Thai friends. I was able to openly ask them for information or clarification about a certain topic and to have a proper discussion about the different points of view, without getting into an argument.

As a politics student who was educated in the liberal Western academic system, I strongly value civil political discussions and I believe that it is important to have political discussions even when people have different opinions.

From what I have seen and experienced, I do not think that the limited political discussion in Thailand is not only due to the government’s censorship and promotion of unity, but because the people have accepted the narrative that ‘different’ is ‘disunity’. In the time of political division, the government and the media promoted the idea of unity which was equated to ‘let’s not talk about the thing that divides us’ i.e. politics. In my opinion, different does not mean disunity and what causes trouble is not the difference of opinions but people’s inability to try to understand or sympathize with the person to whom they talk. If you do not try to understand the thought process of the other person, you will continue to think that your opinion is the only right one and that is dangerous. For me, political conversations among citizens are not for them to arrive at an agreement but to learn more about the different viewpoints for them to better develop their own srance. This is particularly important for democratic societies, it would allow people to make better-informed decisions in local or general elections. It is when people don’t try to understand that they begin to demean each other and that is when a discussion turns into a nasty argument.

There is a difference between having arguing and debating. When I was younger, I thought a debate was just people arguing but that is not the case. Debating involves the presentation of opinion and supporting evidence in a polite manner but arguing may not. It is important to make this distinction, it is possible for people to engage in a political discussion and have a debate without arguing with one another but there needs to a mutual understanding in this regard. People need to understand that we do not have to constantly convince other people of our position but to communicate our opinion and to try to understand other point of views.

People’s opinions differ because no two people can share the exact same life experiences or emotions. The difference will always exist. The most important thing is not to turn a political discussion or debate into an argument.

That person

We all have ‘that person’, the one who we have so much feelings for, the one who has unknowingly affected us so much. For me, that person was a friend of a friend whose confidence caught my eye. That person was the friendly talkative guy at the bar. That person who could not be more than a friend. That person did not feel the same way that I did and yet I gave him nearly all of my heart.

Why did I do that?

I liked the way he made me feel, not the way I feel about him, but the way I feel about myself. I felt comfortable being around him. I felt that he accepted me for who I am.  His confidence in himself showed me that it was possible to believe in myself too. I felt like I was enough. I like myself better because of him, this means so much to me. Hence, he too means a lot to me. When I was with him, I felt alive, for once I was actually living. 

Maybe it’s because I’m inexperience, what ever so little that happened was significant to me. I could not think of any other reason that I had such strong feelings for him. It seems like anyone could have shown that to me, I do not know why it had to be him.

For that person to be out of my life, it has been difficult and it will be for a while.

Leaving it all behind

As I lean my head against the partition of the train, I could see the single teardrop that rolled down my left cheek and landed on my scarf. I was on my final train ride to the Manchester airport after attending my graduation and having done some more travelling. I did not want to shed anymore tears but the sadness that I have to leave my life in the UK behind forever was overwhelming. My life in the UK was the most amazing chapter of my life; I had an incredible time with my friends, I learned a lot about myself, I did well in my studies, I met people that touched my heart, I made life-long friends, and I was happy.

It was devastating to really say goodbye to the people and places that have had such a significant impact of me. What saddened me the most was not only that this chapter of my life was over but that my life from now on would not be as good as it has been. I will have to become an adult and I would not have the freedom that I have grown to be accustomed to. I am terrified of the future. I’m worried that I would not be successful, I would not be able to make new friends, and I would not find the person for me. My life will be different and not for the better.

The sadness of having to leave everyone and everything behind engulfed me. Rather than happily celebrating the success of graduation, I was sulking in the sadness of the reality that the life that I have loved was truly over. After graduation, I spent a couple of more days in Lancaster and the next four days traveling in Manchester and the cities nearby. Every time I visit a Christmas market, my heart would be filled with joy, but this time it was different. I could barely hold back the tears as walked through the Manchester Christmas market. When your heart is empty and the meaning of your life is lost, it feels fine to sit around for hours waiting for the train. The enthusiasm that I used to enjoy, for a moment, was gone. The rainy weather and the sad-looking British landscape against the grey sky was not helpful.

I have never imagined that I would have experienced so much in my one year in the UK. Those incredible moments cannot be replicated in any other place and any other point in time. The realities of today is often not as sweet as the memories of the past. All I can do is cherish those memories and keep in touch with people that I value because I cannot turn back time. It is time for me to set new goals and readjust my life in the hope that someday I will be that happy again.

 

What happened after dissertation

It seems to me that not many people talk enough about the period between finishing a university degree and getting a job. Perhaps it is a very difficult and confusing part of most people’s lives and the experience and circumstance varies. For those who are in this in-between stage, here is what I have experienced so far and I hope that it will help you in some way.

On September 4th, 2017, I submitted my master’s degree dissertation. As I submitted my dissertation, instead of feeling a sense of relief, I felt as if a part of me was taken away. In a way, I have worked my whole life for this moment. I’ve done it. It’s over. All of a sudden my life purpose was gone.

It might sound overly dramatic but that was how I really felt. I have devoted all my time and energy researching and writing on a topic of my interest, when it was done, I did not know what to do. It also meant that everything was coming to end; my master’s degree, my student life, and my life in the UK. It was the end of the happiest year of my life. I have never felt so empty.

I knew that I was walking into uncertainty. I had to go back home, become a responsible adult, and start my professional life. I began to worry excessively about the future and my head was filled with unanswerable questions. I have never felt so lost in my life. My pondering of the future was temporarily distracted by my two-weeks family trip. When I came back home, I spent the next month enjoying my free time and learned how to drive.

As I began to search for jobs, all the worries and questions about the future flooded my head again. I was terrified of everything. I was terrified of the future. Nothing that I have done in my life has adequately prepared me for job hunting and choosing the right job. At this critical moment of my life, I am scared to make any decisions. This whole process is particularly daunting for me because I have high expectations for myself and I want to start my professional life on the right path that would lead me to success. Moreover, there is additional pressure from my parents to get a well-paid and stable job. I was extremely stressed out.

What I have come to realize in the past few months is that this is just the beginning of a very long journey and there is still room for development and change. If the job I chose is not the right one for me then I can quit and find another one. Not everyone has made all the right choices throughout their lives. It is normal to take risks and to grab rare opportunities. The more important thing is that I have to believe in myself that even if I’m faced with an obstacle or a failure, I would be able to pick myself up and carry on working towards my goal with persistence. I cannot be afraid of the future because it will come, whether I like it or not. I have to start somewhere, sitting around and waiting for the right job is not going to help. I have to go out of my comfort zone and explore. Maybe I would find a better path to success than the path I have imagined.

To be continued…

Goodbye Lancaster, Goodbye UK

It is impossible for me to believe that my one year in the UK has come to an end. As I walked through along  the River Lune one last time, the memories of my experience in Lancaster replayed in my mind. This city holds a lot of memories. I will definitely miss walking along the river, taking a walk in Williamson Park, and going to the market every Wednesday.

I have had such an amazing time in the UK in the past 12 months that it all felt like a dream. I was actually living my dream, it was a dream of mine to do my master’s degree in the UK since the second year of my undergraduate degree. I had the impression that the UK would be the best place to study and live given its academic reputation and its culture. In this dream-like year, I was incredibly happy. I was content with my life and the new found sense of freedom. It was my first time living on my own, I had the freedom to travel and to do whatever I wanted. I got to travel to 12 cities/towns, 5 castles, 7 museums, and several churches and cathedrals. It was a dream come true because I succeeded and redeemed myself. To be honest, I was not really satisfied with my undergraduate degree life. To say the least, I did not have such a vibrant social life and was more focused on my studies. This time, I stepped outside my comfort zone and participated in more activities. Moreover, I have met so many great people from all around the world and I made great potentially life-long friends. It is the people that made my time in Lancaster so memorable.

More importantly, for the first time, I was happy to be myself and to feel that I have a place in the world. The time I have spent in the UK is invaluable. I have grown and learned so much.

I have moved from one country to another several times in my life but this time it is very different. It has never been more difficult. It is hard to leave something so meaningful and valuable behind but life goes on and now I have to go back to reality and work towards my goals all over again.

The Dissertation Experience

I’ve just finished my master’s dissertation. Now that I am no longer burdened by the workload of the dissertation, I can finally look back on what I have done.

I started working on the dissertation in May as soon as I had a meeting with my supervisor. He asked me to submit a draft of the most important chapter of the dissertation within a month. I decided that the most important chapter was the analysis chapter and I got to work. As you can imagine, starting with the analysis chapter is out of order and it is nearly impossible to form a proper line of argument when you have not seriously explored the theoretical basis for the study. Luckily, I managed to put something together but unfortunately, my supervisor took a very long time to get back to me give the feedback. However, I was busy with other things so I did not mind that he did not reply to my emails and I just kept on working based on the dissertation outline that my supervisor has approved. Then I spent the next two months doing research and writing the dissertation. I spent the last month just editing the dissertation. To be honest, I actually enjoyed writing the dissertation but I really did not like editing it. However, for me, editing is the most important part of writing the dissertation because I cannot form ideas and arguments coherently in my head. It was better for me to just write and get my ideas down, and formulate the argument as I see the bigger picture. It was better for me to just write my ideas down first and rearrange them later.

Frankly, I just did not have much problem with my dissertation. It may seem arrogant to say this but I was confident that I know how to write a dissertation based on my experiences of writing essays. Hence, I did not know what to ask. Moreover, even if I had questions about my topic I knew that I could find out the answer through doing more research. The issues I had were not inherent to the topic I was studying, I had difficulties trying to understand the theories and forming a complex argument. Although the supervisor’s input on these issues would be benefit, the issues are ones that do not necessarily demand the assistance of the supervisor, I just had to think harder. When it comes to writing essays, I can be very stubborn. As much as I appreciate constructive criticism and suggestions, I just wanted to do it in my own way. This was also the case for the dissertation but I was confident that I did the right thing. On the other hand, I am prepared to face the consequences for the risks that I took.

When I was working on the dissertation, I was stressed but not because my topic was difficult to understand but it was because I thought that I was stupid for not knowing the answer and taking such a long time to understand the concepts and theories. I was more frustrated about myself and the way I work rather than about the content of the dissertation. Moreover, I constantly doubt whether my work would be good enough. To be honest, although it was challenging, writing a dissertation is not the most difficult thing and because of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well.

Tips for dissertation:

  • Start researching as soon as possible: academic research is endless. There is so much to read because there are academic articles on everything under the sun. As you become more informed about the topic, you will have better ideas for your research which would lead you to do even more research. So, it is best that you start reading early.
  • Find an effective way for you to keep track of the resources that you: as you do your research you will look at a lot of articles, books, and primary sources, and you will have to cite them as precisely and correctly as possible. You need to keep track of the resources down to the page number. For me, I usually take notes as I read and take down the page number when I reach the end of the page. I use a program called Endnote which lets me collect the resource information, generate the reference for the bibliography, and attach PDF files. Moreover, you can also link the program with Microsoft Word and cite as you write.
  • Use a mind map to brainstorm your ideas: when you study a topic it is easy to get lost in your own thoughts and ideas, making a mind map is a great method to sort out your thoughts and to make connections between different points and ideas.
  • Always ask why and how: in academic writing, it is necessary to justify or prove your point with credible evidence. To make sure that your argument is logical you just need to keep asking why and how. Why is this information important? Why is this the best explanation? How is this paragraph adding to the overall argument?
  • Choose the topic that you are most passionate about: you will have to research the topic for a very long time, therefore, you would need a topic that you would be researching without getting bored and become uninterested.
  • Don’t compare your dissertation with others: it is helpful to have a look at examples or look at your classmates’ dissertations to make sure that you are on the right track, however, you have to keep in mind that people write differently depending on the topic of their research. Just because yours look different from theirs, it does not necessarily mean that it is any less good, it’s just different.
  • Allow plenty of time to edit your work: after you finish writing or have reached the word limit, take a couple of days off from working on the dissertation to take your mind off the topic as you would be able to re-read the essay with a fresh mind. It is important to clear your mind before editing because it would help you to see your topic from a different perspective and not be bogged down on your thoughts. Editing can save you a lot of marks as you thoroughly correct the grammar, syntax, and word choice.

When I finished my dissertation, I thought it would feel happy and free but that was not the case. I’ve never felt so empty in my life. I spent four months researching and writing that 20,000-word dissertation. It was like a relationship, I put so much effort into trying to make it work and took great care of it. I have dedicated all my time to it but in the end, it took my heart and left me feeling empty, lonely, confused, and lost. All I have left is the memory of our time together.

It feels like I have lost my purpose in life. I do not know what to do anymore. As I packed up my things, I realized that my academic life has finally come to an end and there was no need for me to keep my notebooks for future references anymore. It is so weird to think that my formal education is coming to an end. It seemed like it would never end but it just did. My education has always been the focus of my life and now that it is over, I have to rediscover my purpose.

For all those who are working on your dissertation or planning to do a master’s degree, good luck!