Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Exorcising the Inner Demons .. Part 1 of 3.

I should quickly secure a thesis advisor, and soon. I would have secured an advisor by now, were it not for the fact that I am a gutless coward.


More and more I'm inclined to believe that it's not how you ask that is important, but that you ask at all -- though it still seems better that I talk to said person regulary, then ask at a later day. It would be somewhat strange to ask "Will you be my advisor?" unexpectedly and out of the blue. Ideally, one asks in hopes of a "Yes" answer, and hence it is better to ask when confident of such an answer.

But what am I supposed to talk about? I don't know anything -- anything interesting or deep, or have any good ideas, at any rate -- so what can I say?

Part of me worries -- not only about obtaining a thesis advisor, though that is troublesome enough -- but what it means to be someone's student.

Does that mean that I must set aside the idle interests and curiosities that I've collected over the years, and focus all my energies into the coming Prelim Exam and to do research solely towards my dissertation? What if I want to attend a conference, if only to learn something that's not strongly related to my thesis topic?

It's silly to think that one must give up one's curiosities, because that is what makes us mathematicians. But then I remember: after this term I'll have three years left. That's not a very long time to get it all done .. and what if my first thesis topic doesn't pan out, and I have to start again? The curiosities will be the first to go, if ever there is a problem with time.

Perhaps I'm just afraid of making choices: from now on I'll work with this professor and I will study these things. Those other ideas are very interesting, but I don't have time to study that now. There's work to be done first.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just being silly or paranoid or both.

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