STORY: Rollercoaster

As promised, here is my what went down during my and my thesismates' anticipated thesis defense.

Before we begin, let me first share that I am not the most emotional of persons. I am not one who likes to embrace joy, sadness, heartbreak, surprise and then reveal it to the world. I like to remain calm and stoic even. But thesis defense changed that really. I was a mess. I had too much emotions fighting inside me that I was so confused with which to show or express. I decided I be as emotionless as possible on the outside since no one really needed another emotional mess but I couldn't help it! There were times that i had to give in to the emotions and it didn't help that I had people crying left and right but let's get to that later.

The day started at 11am with our thesis adviser, Sir Mike having one last consultation before we had our defense. We went through a few questions and Sir Mike, being the poet that he is, gave his "speech." I felt a knot it my throat really, almost a tear fell I think. I felt that everything he said was quotable too bad I didn't write all of 'em down. All i could remember and what struck me the most was "Lumayas na kayo, tapos na trabaho nyo dito sa St. Scho. Hinihintay na kayo ng mundo." With that, we left the room and began to feel thesis defense chills creep in.

We had lunch before we began one last run of our defense presentation. We went to the organization office so there would be no people and would be airconditioned. I didn't feel like rehearsing that time actually since we had gone through the presentation about 3 times yesterday already. No matter how much we mastered the thing, our fate wouldn't change. The content would still be the same, so rehearsing wasn't going to help correct the mistakes in it. We spent the first 2 hours just talking to each other. Asking questions and hoping the other knows the answer. But mostly we just talked about the Lion King coming out in theaters the next day.

About 2pm we headed over to the conference room where we were going to have our defense at 3pm. We were in the middle of the only rehearsal we managed to do during the time we had to kill. When we got to the venue, the previous thesis groups were still there. These 3 thesis groups were all under one adviser It was pretty awkward for me (and I believe for my thesismates as well) since I originally was a part of that group, being that their adviser used to be mine as well. It even got more awkward when the last of the 3 groups who presented bagged a nomination for best thesis and they all started hugging. I was confused as to whether I could join in on the hugging and congratulations or not. I decided I wanted to congratulate them so I shook off whatever awkwardness I felt.

We entered the conference room and started preparing for our presentation. Our buddy group wasn't around (late! haha) yet so the previous group was kind enough to assist us until the buddy group came. We prepared the food (the cassava cake of minky plus the buko juice I bought the day before), the projector and I, being the nervous OC person that I was, started fixing all the lose cables and aligning all the chairs.

After all was prepared, I sat in one corner and waited. I was feeling very nervous and I am not the nervous type. So the feeling was pretty new and I wasn't sure I was dealing with the feeling right. I was quiet and did not move much. I was a rock.

Defense started and I felt so nervous I wasn't my talkative self. Thank God we had a script so I managed to get through the presentation. If we didn't have scripts, I think half of what i was supposed to say had flown out the window already. As the presentation went on, I actually felt that my thesismates shined. I felt that I was in the background simply reading out my parts while they were more active in their presentation. I started feeling scared that I may be the a burden for my group this time, I may be the reason we get a low grade.

At the end of our presentation, we decided to share our personal realizations from the study. I went first and I was disappointed at how emotionless my realization was considering I had realized a lot. Right after my time for sharing was up, I had a million of quotable lines run through my head which I wished I could have said. Pya shared much of her DevCom realizations, how the study helped her in her chosen minor (we aren;t of the same minor track though we both are Mass Communication students). Minky's sharing had me in tears. She even had to stop a few times to collect herself before she was able to finish her sharing. The things I didn't say, luckily she was able to cover. She shared how we realized that the things we laugh at and do not really give much thought everyday cause pain to others and that these people (as in our study, gays) have to force themselves to be the funny gay people expect them to be just so they can be accepted. I couldn't hold back the tears then, it felt like we actually did something great with this study, far more than what we expected to achieve when we started working on it. I felt, with that speech, we were triumphant. We won a battle we thought we had already lost (since we were dropped by our original adviser and that time we truly felt graduating on time wasn't a possibility). The nervousness I felt early on turned into satisfaction and pride. I felt we did something great but my hallelujah chorus was cut short when we were asked to sit down and proceed with the question and answer portion of the defense.

The next part I do not like to go into detail. It was a pretty long discussion. It began slowly with a few praises about our work but mostly, I felt that our baby was just butchered to death. I expected this to happen really but I didn't realize how hurt I would feel when it actually happened. Most of the things they wanted to change were very doable and I was willing to do it all, heck I wanted to do it that very moment (well, I have no choice but to do it really! haha) but the feeling that what you originally looked at as a beautiful work of art is now taken down its throne and put on spotlight for all its flaws to be seen just hurt me so much. I felt the tears I forced back in gather at the corners of my eyes. I felt defeated. There was moment that I even felt what I felt three months ago, the feeling that I was not going to graduate on time. But I pulled myself together and faced the situation. I asked my questions, clarified what needed to be done and tried to defend our decisions, but ultimately I felt I handled the rest of the discussion pretty well. I was composed and accepting of the situation. After, we were asked to leave the room for the panelists to deliberate.

While waiting outside, Pya burst into tears. I didn't notice Minky's reaction because I was basically trying to control my own. I was pretty controlled at that time so holding back the tears wasn't that much of a challenge. What tipped my balanced scale was Sir Mike. He left the conference room for the panelists to deliberate on their own and he began his speech again. I couldn't remember everything he said but it went something like this: You may not win this time but its because something bigger is waiting for you out there. Tignan niyo ako, noong ginawa ko yung Dinig Sana Kita (the movie he made during Cinemalaya - an independent film festival) kumakaway kaway pa ako sa stage pero ang  napalanunan ko lang audience choice. Tinatapon tapon lang yung award na yun. Pero sino ba pumuntang Toronto? He went on and on about his own failures and successes after those failures but what brought me to tears (almost) was when he mentioned again that we should just hope that we would graduate since the world is already waiting for us. I held back the tears again just as one of the panelists called for us to come back in.

I was pretty down at this point so I was just hoping for a passing grade. When I heard my grade, I actually couldn't believe it at first. When Pya heard hers, she burst into tears and started thanking everyone. I was in state of shock at that time so I'm pretty happy that I was able to mouth the words thank you to the panelists before I totally froze. My heart and brain was so confused at this point that the tears in my eyes didn't know where to go already - back in or out.

When we got out of the conference room, we had our buddy group prepare our surprise for Sir Mike already. We asked them to make a banner for Sir Mike and buy pizza and drinks, too. When i got out, i handed Sir Mike the gift we got him and he grabbed each of us, his advisees for a hug. He left the room for a while and when he got back, he joined us for pizza and cassava cake. I felt like crying again because at last, the worst part is over. Btu again, I held the emotions back. i swallowed my pizza and cassava cake and drowned it in Coke. After that, I headed off to Events class.

I had to suck in whatever (because at this point I'm really not sure what to call it anymore) I was feeling since I was in class. I held it for 2 hours or more but I was very uneasy. When i got home, I locked my room and cried real hard. I wasn't even sure why, I just did. I thought it was the only way to let everything out since i kept holding everything in the entire day. I felt better. A lot better. Goes to show cooping emotions really can hurt you and that saying where the oldies say "iiyak mo lang lahat yan" really does help.

I'm extremely grateful for this day. I was disappointed at first because I did expect kinder words but getting an A- for something done far quicker than what was allotted for the task is already a miracle. From feeling like graduating was far from reach to actually getting an above average score is truly an amazing gift. I passed by the chapel the moment I got to school this morning and prayed as i have been doing the past days. And God did hear my prayer and its sad that I haven't gone back to Him to say thanks. I have said thank you already but going to the chapel is still something else, its the least i could do for what He has given me. I can't explain how grateful I am that I can say I passed defense and I will not be left behind because of thesis.

I am not fond of rollercoasters (literally) and the figurative ones like the rollercoaster of emotions I went through today is just the same banana to me--- I hate 'em! Hahaha. I do not like being unsure of what I feel and this day gave me just that. I'm just really glad that I got through the ride and got off it in one piece. Now, I'm recovering from the dizziness and getting back on my feet. I'll be working on the revisions of our thesis this week and hopefully get it done, FINALLY by the end of this week. Christmas break, here I FINALLY, FINALLY come! :)

1 comment:

Mary Henderson said...

At least in the end you and your group mates finally finish working with your thesis project. Thesis journey can really be a roller coaster ride, but it shouldn’t be a reason to stop people from finishing the thesis project, especially when it is near the end of it. Anyway, I do hope everything went well with your journey.