How to Let Go and Accept That Your Research Project Just Won’t Live Up to Your Impossible Expectations

The week of Halloween was punctuated by several 2 AM-nights and piled-up cups of half-drunk Earl Grey tea. I had four days until my history senior seminar’s rough draft deadline and only 23 pages written.

Sounds like a lot, but I really wasn’t proving my point or saying anything I thought was meaningful. So naturally, I was in panic mode. I was like that kid on MasterChef Junior, the one whipping his potatoes into submission and crying? That’s me. I can’t put a gif here because it’s not labeled for reuse without modification, but you can imagine my mental and emotional state.

The people around me just didn’t get why I was so upset.

“It’s supposed to be bad,” said my professor. “Let it be bad.”

“Nobody is expecting you to read primary sources in 18th-century French,” said my librarian mentor.

“Remember what Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird? Write a shitty first draft,” said one of my writer friends.

“I only have seven pages, so shut up,” said my history major friend.

But I couldn’t seem to let it go. I just kept writing, kept adding, I kept going back to my primary sources and pulling more quotes, I kept finding more sources to add to my argument. I drank my weight in fluid ounces of Earl Grey. And I finished it.

I wrote thirty more pages in three days, slapping my bibliography onto the tail end and all but added a lock of my hair to the submission. Far from feeling like Alexander Hamilton, I feel a little more like Strega Nona’s assistant, unable to stop the flow of spaghetti from flooding the streets of the village and terrorizing the people.

I’ve attached the draft below, if you really want to look but truly, this is the worst thing I have ever written. I’d wait for the final draft if I were you.

Enter my history senior research project if you dare!


One Comment Add yours

  1. That was a lot to pack in to 50 plus pages. Interesting theories.


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