Probably one of my greatest struggles is decision making. I hate having to choose what to have for dinner, what movie to go see, what modules to take and, mostly, what topic I should choose for projects and essays. It just seems like a big decision. Make the wrong choice and you end up having to write 4,000 words and spend who knows how many hours, reading, researching and writing about something you aren’t actually interested in, or feel is unimportant or insignificant. At the same time, make the safe choice, choosing a general topic area previously studied, because maybe knowing some background which will help and make it easier, is rarely truly interesting, inspiring or rewarding. Personally, I often fall back on British Imperial History. It’s something I have previously studies through school and sub-honours and feels safe, but, while there is a place for further study there, I’m not sure its mine. So again, we return to the question – what topic?

            Maybe something with that can teach us about our society? Maybe we should choose our questions based on what is happening in our world now and why that is happening? Maybe something that can teach us lessons that we can apply now? Something to do with global connections and communications? Maybe associated with political and cultural division? Why are we divided? Why are so many peoples oppressed or excluded from society? Is there an ideal societal make up? Are we getting closer to it? Or further away? What can history, historical events and phenomena, show or teach us about the human condition? As far as I can tell we are all as messed up as each other. No, maybe the big questions are not quite the starting place I need.

            So maybe something with a personal connection? But I must be honest, there’s not a lot I feel a personal connection with that I am yet that interested in studying. So there goes that option.

            What I am interested in is connections. Connections, networks and infrastructures. There’s a running joke among my friends that I am going to write my dissertation on trains. While I’m not sure this will happen in its entirety, I will try work a reference to my first network love in there somewhere. Ok, anecdote over – trains did spark in me an interest in networks and connections and the influences of these on how societies have grown and events that have taken place. So here is a starting point perhaps? But I still feel no closer to a topic or question for study specifically.

            So, what now? Well, now I’m going to ask someone’s advice. No point going around in circles. After meeting with Bernhard, I have now been reading and looking at the Esperanto movement, especially the Scottish connections and participations. While I admit I was a little sceptical at first, I was told that sometimes you just have to go for it – and now I’m glad I did. This is something I had honestly barely heard of before, but now I realise this movement brings some many different cultures, regions and people together. It provides an extensive network, examples of connections, and a need and examples of the use of infrastructures (so I can look at trains, even if I don’t directly mention them…).

            The point is, after all that faffing with what topic to choose I was never going to get anywhere until someone told me to go for it and run with it. To just take the leap. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with finding the big or important question, or simply completing the task, that we miss the opportunity to immerse ourselves and really enjoy history. I’m not sure yet where this project will take me, but I can already see so many options, and whether I answer the big questions or complete the task, I’m sure I will find something interesting and enjoyable along the way. In addition, I’ve realised the importance of taking the leap: next step – do it without being pushed! So, now it’s your turn – Take the Leap. and reall

Take the Leap

One thought on “Take the Leap

  • March 9, 2020 at 10:18 am

    I definitely relate to the points you make about indecision – definitely felt it with finding a topic for my project (and still feeling it with my dissertation proposal!) I’ve always found the process of finding and defining the questions just as challenging as answering them.

    I think the point in your post that most resonates with me was your suggestion that sometimes the pursuit of the ‘big question’ can be all-consuming and instead we should choose a topic that we can immerse ourselves in and enjoy, because ultimately us enjoying and being interested in what we are writing is so important. I definitely find that if I’m writing about a topic I’m interested in, then the essay becomes much easier and happens much faster, and I definitely think that this is likely to be reflected in our writing; a marker can almost definitely tell when we are interested in what we are writing.

    With regards to this project, I guess that I was lucky in that I was able to discover some transnational activity in a topic I was personally interested in. However, it’s really interesting to read about how other people formulate their ideas and the methods they try in order to get to that final idea, from starting small, like taking a concept (like connections) as a starting point, to thinking about the ‘big questions’ or the personal connections to seeking advice from others. I think what your experience tells me is that there are so many possibilities out there, and, going forward in future decisions, I should trust the process of finding a topic, considering all of these angles on history, utilising all of the resources we have access to and be open to any ideas or inspirations, wherever they come from. However, I would want to do all of this while staying committed to doing something because I want to, rather than because I feel that I should.

    Definitely going to try and take the leap in the future!

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