The Problem with Problems

Dear Reader, 

Have you ever been stuck on a problem so challenging that you don’t even know where to begin? Well, I am. I am currently trying to write a research proposal for graduate school applications and it feels like everyone already took all the interesting research ideas. Where to start? Everytime I stumble upon an interesting question, it turns out that the idea is in fact too broad, too narrow, too convoluted, or not at all relevant for some reason. I have calculated that today I have spent around 9 hours on this problem, yet feel like I could wake up tomorrow and still scrap all of it.

They say that when you are stuck on a problem, sometimes it is good to clear your mind and engage in other activities. Although I was hesitant to lose my train of thought (even though I am not certain that this train was even on the right track to begin with), I decided to get up and take a walk around Cambridge. The Head of the Charles Regatta is this weekend, which made walking much more interesting than usual. The Head of the Charles Regatta is a rowing competition event held on the Charles River. Vendors sell food and clothing and people stand across bridges and along the banks of the Charles to view the sport. Everyone just seemed so carefree and in-the-moment today. College kids are dressed in sweaters, carrying fried treats and chatting by the river. Families are milling about and purchasing official Head of the Charles merchandise. The sun was shining on everyone (expect me lol) on this lovely day.

They say that falling in love happens when you are not looking for it. I am not confident that the answers to my problems will come from not dwelling on them, but I’m sure it must be healthy to take a mental break every once and awhile to stop and smell the corn dogs. 

Head of the Charles Regatta, Cambridge, MA, fall 2019

After this nice reprieve, I pushed myself to return to the office to rethink my research questions. While I did not stumble upon my “ah-ha” moment today, I’m glad that I took this little midday break as I am sure it was a small but very necessary part of this research journey. The problem with problems is that there will always be problems. So I hope, Dear Reader, that you will take some time to do something nice for yourself today because we could all use something nice.



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