Yesterday I was asked a very difficult question:
“Why are you doing your MA?”
It caught me off guard…I tried to answer it as best I could, explained that I didn’t really have a clear thesis idea going into the MA program, and that I lucked out by having the migration research project opportunity placed in my lap. The question was then asked to another PhD student sitting beside me, and I then felt incredibly awkward. Not only did I not have an answer, but what I had given certainly didn’t include ‘wanting to help change the world’. Granted, I’m not studying contamination of soil, but still, it raises the question of goodwill. Must every decision that we make have a particular purpose or agenda? Should it always be building towards something greater than ourselves , in a selfless way? Who decides what holds merit and what doesn’t?
The question that I was asked can be reworded to be more general:
“Why are you doing this?”
Being completely frazzled by the original question for some time, this new question that I ask myself is far more unsettling. I realized that as a researcher (and a musician, as it applies to anything), I lack vision for my work outside of my immediate idea of doing it because it has to be done (assigning it the value of a task, not something I feel passionate about). Don’t get me wrong, I feel extremely passionate about the album and the migration study; however, what is the greater purpose for my work? Now, I’m not saying that what I am creating now at age 22 must change “sociology/music as we know it”, but should I not be trying to make dents at least?
This question made me feel like I was at Canadian Music Week all over again, being told that having a purpose for my music is paramount. However, this was my first encounter having this discussion about academic topics; with my motivations for higher education questioned, I realized that there is plenty of introspection needed.
By being asked this question, I am not only learning to question various aspects of myself, but I am certainly humbled by the wealth of knowledge that the question-askers possess, and can only wait until enough time passes and I gain similar amounts of experience so that I too may answer that question that is now on my desktop.
Question yourself on a daily basis too:
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More news on Nunavut to come.