After my last post, a had a few friends check in with me, worried that I was struggling a bit under the pressures of PhD life (thanks guys!).
One of these friends is a PhD student himself, and so I was a bit confused by his line of inquiry in particular. I mean, aren’t we all struggling under the pressures of PhD life? Don’t we all consider quitting at some point? Isn’t that just…normal?!
Apparently not. “Of course I don’t think about giving up,” my stunned friend reassured me, “I just love learning!”. (What a dick, right?)
To quote Carry Bradshaw; This got me to thinking…
I don’t love learning. I love KNOWING what the hell I’m doing. Maybe that’s why this whole process is particularly difficult for me. When your full time job is studying, you don’t spend much time in your comfort zone.
I, personally (not sure about you guys) don’t spend much time patting myself on the back once I have the hang of something, because quite often that one thing I suddenly understand or am capable of is just a brick in the wall of PhD-dom. Maybe not even a whole sodding brick. So, really, I spend all my time trying to do things, and not much time wallowing in the awesomeness of the fact that sometimes (sometimes.) I succeed.
Also, because of my anxious nature, that whole time that I’m trying to do or understand something, it’s very hard for me to believe that I will ever even get there. Despite the number of times I have got over molehills before, who’s to tell me that this particular one is actually a mountain and I’ll NEVER get over it? What if I forget my hiking equipment? What if I brought too much to carry? What if my legs will fall off?! And so on.
It’s thoroughly unpleasant, the whole learning experience, really.
I know that the only way to make things easier for myself is to accept that learning takes time. Sometimes all this shit does drive me to consider giving up on my PhD. But I think I’ve got to the point now where I realise that these fears and anxieties aren’t restricted to academia. If I want to be a happy, healthy human IN GENERAL, I need to learn to BE NICE TO MYSELF.
And also to stop worrying about my legs falling off.