… the thing that i’m trying to convince you of is threefold:
(i) in terms of ability and work ethic, you have everything you need to be successful doing theory research (or any other kind of research) — I’m happy to hear that
(ii) if you want to be successful doing theory work, you’re going to have to modify somewhat the standard that you set for yourself, when you judge whether you know something or not … you have to be willing not just to know about things, but to put in the effort to understand them down to the core … to demand complete clarity of yourself … a good test is whether you can teach the material, say to your labmates.
(iii) if you set that standard for yourself, and follow up on it, the progress that you make will be extremely rapid (probably much faster than you think) — the reason for this is that when you learn one thing thoroughly, you also learn about how to learn — you’ll eventually be able to pick up new ideas and understand them thoroughly much more quickly.
Thanks to John for your encouragement!