I have always wondered what it would be like to drop the p-bomb on my parents.
Rest assured, no, Mom and Dad, I am not pregnant. Yet, as I enter my senior year at Harvard, I might as well consider myself impregnated with a fetus named "Thesis."
People often compare the process of writing an undergraduate thesis to giving birth, both in terms of their duration and rigor. The topic is usually conceived at the spring semester of one's junior year, while the bulk of research is conducted over the summer. Come fall, the excitement of starting the final year of college is coupled with the daunting task of churning out 100+ pages of writing over a period of six months. The student most likely develops the inevitable senioritis, but soon enough, the ubiquitous Bean boots and Barbour jackets surface to signal the arrival of New England winter. Simultaneously, panic settles in as the student embarks on an emotional roller coaster. After many delirious nights of chugging Red Bulls while morphing words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into pages, the intense labor ends on the Thursday before Spring Break -- the timely due date for most theses.
Depending on the year, between 40 and 50 percent of Harvard students opt to write a thesis. However, when I declared myself a Social Studies "concentrator" (a Harvard lingo for major) in my sophomore fall, I had voluntarily entered the point of no return -- as an honors-only concentration, Social Studies requires all of its students to submit a thesis in order to graduate.
While I imagine I will encounter countless sleepless nights and sweats will be the clothes of my choice, especially during the dreary winter days in Cambridge, I still appreciate the binding commitment I have made to go through the thesis track. Regardless of whether I continue my path into academia or enter the workforce, the privilege of being able to conduct an original research on the topic that I am genuinely passionate about is something too valuable to give up.
Sure, I will probably regret the decision when the Starbucks barista knows me by name, but I know the reward at the end -- clicking that "print" button and watching the printer spits out pages after pages of my written work -- will more than make up for the dark circles under the eyes.
So Mom and Dad, I guess I am pregnant. Metaphorically speaking, that is.