Regardless of how cheerful and optimistic my usual posts happen to be, I do have my “low” moments. And for as much as I would like this blog to contain happy experiences, a PhD is not just that. Of course, you do it because you love it. But there are times when, for some time, I just doubt my entire existence.
One of those happened very very recently and has sent me into some soul-searching after almost a year. It all just happened within one week – at the beginning of it I felt my confidence growing when I had the chance to reflect on how much I’ve learned, at the end of the same week I just didn’t know who I am anymore. I had to sit down and tell myself: “You know, you are allowed to have an occasional meltdown.” Once I accepted that, I took my phone and texted my dear PhD friend, asking whether she had an hour of her time to spare. Thankfully she did, and I’m guessing she also felt the reason of me asking to meet out of nowhere. I badly needed a hug, and an “all is going well, it’s not just you, I’m in the same boat too” talk. I can’t emphasise enough how good it felt to talk to somebody who completely understands.
Today I opened my agenda looking for an address of another friend. I could not remember where in the agenda it was, so I started from the cover page. I ended up not finding that address in it anyway, but there was something else that I needed to find there, that maybe the destiny was bringing me to. On the cover page there was some inspirational internet wisdom that struck me probably when I was feeling similarly low sometime earlier. It struck me enough to write it there for future inspiration and now, when I have forgotten about it, it struck me again.
“A PhD is an exhausting emotional struggle. You are forced to confront all of your fears, insecurities and doubts you have about yourself and somehow overcome them. It’s terrifying. A lot of bravery is required, which often goes unrecognised and unrewarded.
Facing your own personalised set of fears is where the feeling of isolation comes from – the fact that they are YOUR fears.
Be brave. You know what you have to do – you know the right thing to do. Good luck.”
These words could not be more accurate and, actually, they are among the reasons why I wanted to do a PhD. It is when you are confronted with all of it that it becomes incredibly hard to get over yourself. I needed to be reminded of this today.