When I was studying for the Qualifying Exam, I oftentimes got down about my chances of success. So, taking a note from some of the senior graduate students, I started seeking out and writing down words of inspiration. While some of them are for me specifically, I figure that the majority of these might work for others as well. So, here they are:
– You made it into grad school for a reason. Aside from the slight possibility that you were accepted based on race or personal connections, they would not have admitted you if they didn’t think that you could handle it and succeed. You can do this.
– Nick, the difference between who you are and who you want to be is set by what you do in your day-to-day. You are working toward your goal diligently and consistently. You will reap what you have sown: a carefree summer and a glorious 3rd year.
– All of this science was figured out by people. People. Flawed, occasionally lazy, logical people that somehow found a pathway to understanding. For every subject this pathway exists, and since you have the same basic hardware that they had when they found the pathway, you can do it too. This stuff isn’t beyond you. It might currently be just out of reach, but it is not beyond you. Stretch the limits of yourself and take hold of what you want. It can, and it will, be yours.
– You can rise to this challenge, Nick. It’s like Mangangá said: Proper Preparation Prevents Passive Poor Performance. Actually, let’s add to that: Proper Preparation, Perseverance, and Patience Prevent Passive Poor Performance.
– Keep dad’s words in your mind at all times: Take the time to do it right. Go. Go now and fucking do it!
– Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
– There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
– The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.
– When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful (from one of my favorite videos on YouTube).
– Work on your weaknesses until they are strengths, and work on your strengths until they are second nature.
– Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
– It doesn’t matter when you started. It doesn’t matter how long it took. It doesn’t matter how many times you failed. All that matters is that you finished what you started.
– You must do the things you think you can not do. Keep your head up and your heart strong.
– You are in charge of how you feel, and today, choose “motivated” and “accomplished”
– Just keep moving forward and don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks. Do what you have to do, for you.
– Months of discipline, or a lifetime of unhappiness? You pick.
– Don’t let one bad day kill your confidence and progress.
– If you like progress, try patience. If you like change, try keeping at it.
– Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.
– You can feel burnt-out tomorrow or you can feel like a failure come June 13th (the qual date). You choose.
– If you don’t want to be like everyone else, then you have to be willing to do things differently.
– Start by doing what is necessary. Then, do what is possible. Suddenly, you’ll find you’re doing the impossible.
– Don’t be upset with the results you didn’t get from the work that you didn’t do.
– Most important of all of these: Create a life that you are proud to live. Do that every day (or work toward it at least), and before you know it you’ll look back and see a life that you’re proud to have had.
– And one last one, emailed to me by the wonderful Aomawa Shields the night before the qual:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley