On Thursday, I presented my senior thesis proposal to my mentors. Let's just say there were lots of unpleasant words running around and slamming into the walls of my head.
It started off well enough, I woke up, run through my presentation one more time, and then headed over early to set up my presentation. Once I got there, I discovered that the room I reserved didn't have a computer. It only had a TV. No one had warned me about the lack of equipment. My mentor had said that the room would work and that was it. Well, luckily for me, the Psychology Department had a laptop that I could hook up to the TV. Crisis averted!
I turned on the clanky Dell laptop that was so old it didn't have an HDMI cable slot. In fact, it was so ancient that it ran on Windows XP and refused to connect to the Internet. It always said, "Validating Identify" but never actually validated anything. So much for being prepared. My mentors and I spent at least 10 minutes trying to get the Internet to work until I ran upstairs to borrow a thumb drive from someone. With that, I was able to download my presentation from the Internet and bring it up on the clanker.
Alright, so I was ready to give my presentation. Oh, right, that's not what happened because then that would've been too easy. I'm pretty sure there was a ghost of technology in that room mocking me. Once we finally connected the computer and managed to get it working, the top and bottom of my slides were cut off, and so that meant I couldn't read the axes of my graphs. I messed up the explanation of one graph, and my main mentor frequently corrected the answers I gave to my second mentor's questions. The next thing I knew I was fidgeting with my hands and stuttering over the word of my main task: grammaticality. Grammaticality shouldn't be too hard to say for me, but it was the most difficult thing in the world.
I felt like I was failing. I told my mentors they could stop and ask me questions but then that threw off my rhythm and I forgot what I was going to say. It also helped because then I explained the information more in depth than I originally planned. Still, the experience felt more bitter than anything else. Stumbling over words, fumbling through explanations of graphs and correlations. Mommy, hold me!
After I presented my presentations, my mentors told me to leave so that they could talk about me. That was another stab to the heart of my nerves. My main mentor was blunt about it, too. "Step outside so we can talk about you." Not, "talk about your project," but "talk about you." Shot to the nerves and I'm to blame. She's gonna give me a bad grade.
I leaned against the wall, read the bulletin boards, trying to distract myself. I thought I did so horribly. I didn't know the studies as well as I though I did, and then my second mentor found the hole in my project. Both my main mentor and I knew it existed. We didn't have time to do more research to explain the hole. By the end of the presentation experience, my teacher had a long list of things that I had to improve on. Surely, I had failed to do my best. I couldn't confirm that for sure though. No matter how close I stood to the door, those thick walls stopped me from hearing the gossip between my mentors.
My main mentor told me I passed, and then my second mentor continued talking, telling me that I could possibly get this study published. I had done a great job on it, he said, and it would definitely help me get into any grad school that I wanted. He spoke like he had a lot of faith in me. It should've been consoling, but all I could think was Oh, God, they talked badly behind my back, and now they're being nice to me. I wondered if they would have told me if I did a bad job...
Thankfully that it was over, I packed up the clanker and took it upstairs. Walking away from the building, I knew I needed a thousand strawberry frappuccinos, a new warm cup of tea, and some sleep to get rid of this icky, sick, failing feeling. If that's what a doctorate thesis is like, but worse, then I definitely don't want to earn a Ph.D. I think I'd go insane from all the pressure and stress of getting everything right or else. As I thought of everything I still had to do for my thesis, I seriously doubted whether I could finish this intricate mess of variables or not...Good grief. I'll need lots of help.
In the end, I guess the moral of the story is to always be prepared with extra laptops and thumb drives because you never know when the ghost of technology will strike! I always suggest preparing your presentation multiple times instead of just once. But I guess the biggest lesson is that things aren't always as they seem. I don't know what my teachers talked about, but I hope it was good things. And like the shallow student that I am, I hope I did well enough to get an A so my GPA doesn't drop.