I am 22 years old, about to graduate (delayed by one semester because I failed in two courses) with a dual major (one of which is an integrated Master's degree in a Physics, and the other a Bachelor's degree in stem) by the end of next year with very poor grades (between 5 and 6 on a 10 point scale, certainly below average at my uni, and very bad overall.)
I have no research projects, no LoRs, and quite frankly, I am not skilled enough in the subject I would like to pursue research in. I don't even have a concrete idea of what I want to do research in at this point. I came in to university with a fondness for Physics and a dream to conduct research and get into academia (though I was equally excited about being a lecturer, or doing a mix of research and teaching). Then 2020 happened, and I did not/could not study well, and my mental health worsened. Unfortunately, this still rings true as 2023 is about to end. My mental health was bad before 2020 as well, but things just got worse. I wasn't able to study well, I wasn't able to meet deadlines, and professors who took me under their wing for research projects end up leaving me because I was not working and ghosting them. Eventually I ended up essentially not studying Physics at all, even though I wanted to. (Mental illness, etc). I am terrible at the subject, and have no skills as such.
Today, I have two semesters before I graduate. For the next semester, a professor (senior prof. with administrative posts too, not an active researcher, but a kind human nonetheless.) at my university has agreed to supervise my master's thesis. I will have additional mentorship from one of his grad students working on the same topic. I hope to do good work in the thesis, so that I may get a good LoR from the prof. and also to confirm my interest in the subject and my wish to continue with research (which I assume is still there, it does feel like that). Maybe also publish and in general build a good work relationship for once at university. In the next year, I will also have to prepare for and give PhD/Master's entrance and fellowship exams (some are in Febuary itself), that are in essence like GRE but way more important for PhD admissions in India. I will also be giving the GRE and TOEFL, etc for grad school applications abroad. And prepare some more industry relevant skills for the very likely outcome of me not getting a PhD or second Master's offer anywhere. That is a lot to do, but I hopeful about doing it.
I have never e-mailed any professor outside asking for work or research projects before, and I have essentially no contacts in academia now (like work contacts), no publications and a very precarious situation.
Is my hope of getting into a good PhD or (second) Master's program, in say the next one-two years, justified ? Or am I being irrational about this. I often fear that I am way too behind for it to be possible, but I don't know.
In general, what can someone do to make themselves a competitive grad school candidate if they had a very poor undergraduate education ?