(You know what is not funny? The results of the 2016 US elections. Had to be said. Now that we got that out of the way, back to the post.)
A PhD is a full-time job, especially if you have to finish it in three years like me. Some days, like today, I really do not see that happening. It’s tricky, there is a ton of reading and thinking and processing and writing. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading and thinking and processing and writing, I just don’t like to HAVE to do it EVERYDAY.
The competition is fierce. You gots to publish articles, you gots to write 8,000-word papers to attend conferences, you gots to write your 100,000-word thesis, you gots to keep healthy and exercise, you gots to enjoy the last of your 20s, ’cause they’re going, fast. Etc etc etc. And you can’t stop comparing yourself, your progress and your life to others. I mean, can you, really?
It’s stressful; there are supervisory meetings, deadlines, reviews, assessments, trainings, seminars, funding proposals, and so much more, if you’re not in academia, you can only imagine. Take my word for it though, succumbing to self-doubt is my menu of the day.
I refuse to buy that you-gotta-REALLY-like-academia bullshit to do a PhD. Actually I rarely like it, but I know it will lead me to greater/better things in the future. I like my research topic, at least the practical implications of it, and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to develop it, but that doesn’t make it any easier. There is so much content published already and new stuff getting published on a daily basis, going through all of it is humanly impossible. There are choices to be made, details that will inevitably be missed, arguments that could be further developed… For a perfectionist this is extremely hard to handle, you want to read ALL the things and cover ALL the topics. Not gonna happen.
So we gots to chill! But how, HOW?
Come up with a plan (or plans), why not? Create a timetable and a back-up timetable for the duration of your PhD, maybe you’ll stick to it, maybe you won’t. Write down to-do lists, several a day. Skip the gym because fuck it, you already went three times this week and it’s raining and you don’t really feel like going. Watch the first episode of the new season of The Walking Dead telling yourself that it will motivate you to write afterwards (that absolutely will not happen, but you tried). Go get a beer (or ten) with those goofy friends on a friday night instead of overthinking about how your annual progress meeting is coming up even though you JUST had the 6-month review (?!).
Ok, so I realise that last paragraph sounded a bit like a think piece from Thought Catalog or a Tumblr-worthy inspirational quote, but still. We gots to enjoy this process, after all, when will we get the chance to make our own schedule again? Or take holidays (almost) whenever we want? Or choose to live in Spain (which is not where you’re from, btw) while attending a UK University (which is not where you’re from either!)? Ah, #academiaisfunny.
Disclaimer: I got really into the ‘gots’ thing in this post, sorry. I know that’s wrong, but it felt right.