Chapter Eighteen: MAST30022 Decision Making (~jinghan)

I get my MAST30022 Decisions Making assignment back (surprisingly within the week: this lecturer is on the ball!): full marks! It was a very short simple one that doesn’t count for too many marks but still a good sign! Except… I find it highly ironic that I am doing well in a subject call Decision Making when I am really struggling at the first really big non-obvious decision of my life: what to do after I graduate. Man, I wish there was a subject (preferably a maths one) that taught me how to do this decision making thing…

Remember that time when you were in your first year of school? The people of the world could be neatly categorised into five types:

  • Clumsy Little Ones
  • Children (including you)
  • Big People
  • Very Big People
  • Adults

And as far as you were concerned these were more or less difference species of people. You would never really ever become a Big People despite what people told you (probably in jest) would happen later on in time. The idea that you would one day become a Very Big People was more or less inconceivable. And the idea that you would become an Adult was laughable. Just think about the obvious: you played at being Adults in the same way you played at being puppy dogs or dragons and adults laugh and tell you it can’t happen if you ever confess that you want to be a puppy dog when you grow up – if that ain’t sound evidence what is? You are at school now which means you know everything.

And despite all the wisdom of my six year old self, I somehow ended up being a Very Big Person. But somehow being Adult is still a strange inconceivable matter. My parents: they cook, clean, file for tax returns, know about insurance policies, keep track of money, keep their daughter alive, look after their parents,keep their head on when crazy stuff happens, make decisions about life, heck they don’t spend time questioning their identity or the meaning of life (?!) – how do you get like that? Be Adult?


Ah!!!!! What am I going to do with my life?

Student Advice Apointments

Ah brilliant! Thank you student center, you will tell me what to do with my life and solve all my problems!

“It’s your course and your time at University and you should be making the important decisions about your studies. Student Advisers or academics will not tell you which major or breadth studies you should do. They can discuss options with you, but you need to take responsibility for making the final decision on your subject choices and the direction of your study. “


So it’s Saturday evening and I’ve got close to a million tabs open on my browser, trying to work out what subjects I want to do in Masters and whether they can fit in and trying to make a list of questions to ask the advisor that is not composed of the single question: “What do I do with my life?”

But the more I spend time looking at the subjects the more it feels like I’ve done all the wrong subjects for my undergraduate: why didn’t I do more statistics, why didn’t I do some physics, why did I major in pure maths when I don’t want to do it at masters level…

Also weighing me down was: what the heck do I want to do my research component of my masters on. I’m trolling through the list of possible supervisors in the maths department – man I don’t know any stochastic modelling which cuts down my options in the area I want to do stuff in, actually I don’t even know what these topics mean…

And if I hadn’t gone on exchange I would be in much closer contact with more members of the department and be more willing to ask them questions about research…

What if I get into a research project but lose motivation for it and it becomes a slog… My former teacher did say “don’t do a masters for the sake of doing a masters.” Am I cut out for research??? It seems so dry and uninteresting from just trolling through the maths department website, but maybe I’ve not given it the chance it deserves?

It feels like I’ve made all the wrong decisions!

Like a six year old overwhelmed by the fact that I have to become a Big Person I go to my Dad in tears.

It seems he is annoyed at my immaturity. (Yeah… fair enough…) Why are you being emotional Jinghan? You’re going to see the academic advisor to ask about your options given you’re current situation! Stop acting like you’re trapped in this decisions, you’re just exploring your options. When is the deadline anyway? November! Why are you worrying now? You don’t want to worry about what has already happened, Okay? Focus on the options you have right now! (But Dad! I don’t know what I want to do with my life!) Stop being emotional. That’s not helping. The point is not to know just now. Go to the advisor and say “this is what I want to do. What are my options?” (But I don’t know what I want to do!!) And then you have options one two three four, and maybe they’re not like you’re ideal, but you pick the best out of the ones you have. Or if they’re all bad you still have the option of doing the Masters of Teaching. (Sniff… sniff… Okay…)

And so the cycle of doubt begins again. But, Dad was kind of right, I was acting like I was trapped in my decision when I wasn’t. And he’s also right about the not dwelling on possible regrets and just working with what I have.

Also once I had gotten over the I’ve-spent-several-hours-trolling-the-handbook-and-I-am-emotionally-and-mentally-exhausted emotional outburst. I realised that if I spend a bit more time talking to professors and current masters students to nut out what Masters is really about. And to the best of my current reasoning powers decide whether I’m up for doing Masters in maths then even if it doesn’t turn out in my favour at least I can’t regret having not thought it through thoroughly in the first place.

It feels like it’s a bit late to be doing this- but wait! I’m not supposed to dwell possible regrets. Don’t dwell. Don’t dwell. Don’t dwell… but if only I had- No. Don’t Dwell.

Adults? A species of people for helping you make big decisions about your life that you’re otherwise overwhelmed and totally run over by.