Two out of Three Ain’t Bad

“Coz two out of three ain’t bad”

    – Meatloaf

While this may be one of the most depressing of Meatloaf’s depressing romantic (1) songs, two out of three can be pretty good. This post has been muttering away under its breath for a few weeks, so More Stuff has actually happened since I hit my ‘two out of three’.

 One: the thing I stuffed up  – 3 Minute Thesis heat

It’s become common to reframe negative experiences or failures as ‘learning opportunities’. While I find this a bit odious most of the time, dismissive and minimising of genuine feelings of sadness or upset, I have acquired a bit of perspective on what I did with my 3 Minute Thesis entry this year and it sits quite comfortably as a learning opportunity. I learned that I can deliver a presentation really well and get positive comments even though it was completely not fit for purpose. I also learned what mistakes I’d made in the drafting process that meant my piece was not how I needed to express my research topic. In moments when I cut myself a bit of slack from the intensive self-scrutiny, I can also acknowledge that I was starting to come down with a virus. This does not account for my misstep in initial composition, but perhaps does for not recognising that I needed to rewrite before the event. Realising this afterwards is good but it does not win competitions. Good thing I am not super competitive.

One good thing to come out of it was being able to step off the pedestal. There are a lot of things I can do well. I had set the bar high at my first presentation to the department postgrad research student seminar. Since then I’ve been getting increasingly uncomfortable with comments from others about the 3MT heat, expecting ‘great things’ from me. Cringe.

I’m much happier being human and managing moderate expectations from others. I have enough built-in unrealistic perfectionism that does not need any external reinforcement.

Two: WIN! Research design modifications.

In the same week I had news from the ethics committee that my research design modifications were approved. This was a double barrelled WIN, because it involved some fairly hefty design changes. The first part of the win was that they agreed to consider them as modifications to the existing proposal. Not having to do an entire new application? Definite win. Confirming the approval means that I can get on with contacting contacts to start my recruiting process. This lead to,

Three: also WIN! Being kindly remembered and others getting excited about my research topic.

Once I’d secured the ethics approval, I had an idea of where I wanted to start putting out my feelers for potential locations for generating data. One of my supervisors also suggested it could be good to discuss my ideas with someone closer to the ‘chalk face’ even before the ethics approval had been confirmed. This involved making contact with a resource teacher I used to work with in my Previous Life. It may not be news to people who know me that people who I’ve worked with remember me kindly. It is to me at times. It was delightful to chat with this person again – ever a wonderful conversationalist – and getting a superlatively positive response to carefully phrased request from me about maybe getting some assistance with introductions to schools that may be willing and interested to collaborate with me on this project.

I have had to wait until the beginning of the next school term (nothing happens during school holidays), but that just means additional thinking and planning time!

Bonus WIN! Submitting an abstract for possible conference presentation.

But wait, there’s three good things! I’ve just submitted my first abstract for a conference CFP. It’s a modified version of the kick-ass presentation I did in March. I wanted to include some methods and data in it, because by that stage I will have some. Obviously I couldn’t put that in the abstract because I don’t have any yet. The conference itself is in December, but I will know by the end of August whether it’s been accepted. Thanks to The Thesis Whisperer, whose workshop “How to write that journal article in 7 days” had me writing the guts of the abstract as one of the exercises. (and apologies for creating disturbance with rather loud nose blowing. Damn sinus infection.) It was rather exciting to polish it up into a draft, get positive noises from the supervisors, do further revisions based on feedback, and then hit ‘send’ on the email. Even the automated reply didn’t take the shine offa that one.

So that’s actually three out of four, and a few badges worth in the PhD game, plus a mess of XP along the way.

  • First Failed Presentation Survival Badge
  • Ethics Approval Bonus Badge – Design Modifications Approved (extra bonus for substantial modifications)
  • First Abstract for Conference Presentation Submitted Award



(1) It’s hard to call the songs in this category ‘love’ songs, because the general theme is how much the singer doesn’t actually love the person to whom it is being sung.

“I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that”

“I want you, I need you, but there’s no way I’m ever gonna love you. So don’t be sad, coz two out of three ain’t bad”

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2 Responses to Two out of Three Ain’t Bad

  1. justblade says:

    Definitely need more appropriate names for badges. I think I’d go further with that first one and call it “The F Bomb – First Failed Presentation Survival Badge”. Having playful names is part of the fun of gamification, after all.

  2. Pingback: Enter the Dragon – Transition from Year One to Year Two | Just words …

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