Monday, 2 January 2017

The Diary of a PhD Student: New year, same PhD.

Do you remember when these blog posts were all about emotional breakdowns and panic attacks? Don’t worry; I’m sure there are more to come. But, over the Christmas period, I seem to have had something that feels akin to an epiphany when it comes to my PhD – or more specifically, these final months of it. Three years ago I had all the time in the world to finish this degree; now I have around six months. That’s a self-imposed deadline, negotiated, somewhat optimistically perhaps, between my supervisor and myself – I can take more time if I really need it – but I also know that now I have June in mind for my submission, June is the cut off. And so somehow, my three years equals a lifetime theory has gone out of the window entirely, with those three years having been whittled down to just six months.

In my last post I reported back a little conversation I had with my second supervisor during our pre-Christmas catch-up, where she told me how important it is to enjoy the next few months. And this handy little piece of advice has led to a lot of outpourings over the Christmas period.

‘I should have enjoyed it more.’

‘I should have treated it less like work.’

‘I should have moaned about it less.’

‘I should have just been grateful that I was lucky enough to be doing the only thing in the world that I actually want to do. How many people are lucky enough to have that?’

And my favourite wobble of them all:

‘It’s all going to be over soon and I’ll wake up at some point in June and someone will ask what I am, or what I do, and I won’t be able to tell them I’m a student. And what happens then?’

This last one has been recited to a fair few listeners over the last four weeks or so – apologies friends, family, total strangers.

The truth is that maybe I could have enjoyed it more and treated it less like work. But another truth is that if I had treated it less like work then I might not be in the position I’m in, work-wise, that I am now – and, by all accounts, it’s a pretty good position to be in (assuming my supervisors can be believed; which, of course, they can – they are, after all, Gods).

So the point of this bite-size blog then – given that I’m not panicking or moaning at you – is to promise myself one or two things for the final six month run of this degree:

I will enjoy my PhD. Even when I’m panicking – which I will definitely still do, and that’s okay.

I will enjoy my research, even on days like this:

And I will remind myself, as often as I need to, that there is nothing else I’d rather be doing, and I won’t get the chance to do this PhD again – so I need to make it count.

Yes, I will panic and procrastinate and moan and grumble and yes, there will probably be ungrateful, tantrum-packed days where I tell myself I wish I’d never done this. But underneath all that rubbish and self-indulgent trite, there is still nothing else I would rather be doing in 2017 that trying – desperately, frantically, optimistically trying – to finish my PhD.

Happy new year, you lovely and patient reader, and thank you for checking in with me. 

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