The Top of the Mountain

If you were not aware: I’ve been reading since the beginning of summer. Not just normal reading but re-reading (yes, I’ve already read it already) and taking notes and preparing for a large and intimidating exam covering the entirety of what I’ve learned over my time in graduate school (and even some things I was never taught — but more on that later). In the beginning a calendar helped. I used a spreadsheet file to keep track of the pages I needed to read every day to finish in time (I’ve re-read around 15,000 pages to date). All of this was fine. Recently I segmented lists of what needed to be re-read from each class and posted them behind my desk. Now that I’ve read so much of the material I’m once again needing to readjust how I perceive it in order to finish confidently.

So I’m in the very final stretch of my studies for my qualifying exams. I’ve now compiled the lists for what little I have left to read and ignored distinguishing between classes. The list is smaller (so it seems more managable) and it fits nicely on one page. This is my hit list. My pen is a mighty weapon. With each finished item I triumphantly place a giant red check in permanent ink next to the defeated item. Each defeated item gives me the confidence I need to tackle this foe and progress towards the land of degree-dom. This is important because intimidation is one of the big reasons people seem to fail.

Make no mistake — this task has been (and will continue to be) a mountain. The mountain certainly does look tall and intimidating at the base but you just need to start walking. I’ve been walking for a long time now and it feels really good to be nearing the peak. The view isn’t perfect yet — it’s kind of foggy and I’m not sure if i’ll make it — but I have come too far to turn back. If you’re staring at a mountain just start climbing. You’ll surprise yourself.