(What If? Exercise: Read the description here.)

Having gotten through college without a problem, I honestly thought getting a Master’s degree would be simple, but I didn’t realize it would be a whole different experience right from the beginning, from talking to your professors for hours to come up with a great idea for a project, to having to write a standout résumé and totally kill it in the interview, and then sitting through the requisite amount of discipline hours for a whole semester before actually getting started on the project, only to realize halfway through the program that your methods were never feasible for a two-year project to begin with, so you spend another several hours discussing it with your advisors until the project has changed completely, meaning you have to start almost from scratch with only one year left to get everything done on time, so you rush through your lab work in what turns out to be a lesson on why you should never rush through lab work that sets you back another month, but you stay optimistic in the knowledge that it’s all a learning experience and now you know what not to do, so you press on through one obstacle after the other – difficult field work, delayed lab material deliveries, failed DNA amplifications – until you finally have enough results to begin last-minute data analyses, all the while reading up-to-the-minute papers that risk changing the entire course of the thesis you’ve been writing and rewriting for the past few months, and just as you’re about to give up the last shred of hope that you’ll be able to meet the final deadline, you reach deep down inside and find that final burst of determination, and before you know it, your thesis is complete, your project has been successfully presented and defended, your paper is in preparation for submission, and all your hard work has earned you a Master’s degree, and you’re so proud of yourself that you forget all the stress you endured to make it here and focus solely on the glory of success… until you decide to pursue a Ph.D and the whole journey starts all over again.

This story is based on What If? Exercise 90: “The Journey of the Long Sentence”. The exercise is to write a short short story that’s only one sentence long. The objective is to understand how we can shape our writing in a similar manner that our minds function, building a linear order for observations that often consist of many overlapping aspects. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

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