Tuesday 02/06/2015

Urghhh… I really don’t want to write today’s post because I feel horribly negative about my PhD and I don’t really want my blog to be adding to all the PhD negativity already available to you on the internet, however today it really can’t be avoided. It’s been a strange day, I feel like I have nothing to show but actually when I think about it I did some important things… but the feeling of not being able to do it is firmly hanging around.. what gives??

At 10am this morning I had my lab meeting to give. Now this isn’t the source of my stress, I’m actually at a point now where lab meetings don’t really bother me. I remember the first one I gave, I prepared for ages, went through it with my supervisor, felt very stressed… but now I’m used to them, they really do get easier with time. As I mentioned yesterday my slides weren’t quite finished so sorting them out was my first job for the day and filled my time between 8am and 10am. 

So far the day seems fine right? Lab meeting done without any real stress – time to get on with my day. Well actually this is where it started to go wrong, I don’t know if I gave off a negative air in my lab meeting (maybe just my grumpy resting face?) but after the lab meeting well meaning people felt the need to dissect aspects with me, I’m all for constructive criticism and helpful discussion, I accept it as a necessary part of academia and the PhD process. However what they wanted to dissect was a side aspect of my work, this project is simply a means to an end rather than an end in itself. To be told to “stop obsessing” (I am a PhD student!) about what I hope to be a chapter of my thesis, and focus on this instead, just rattled me a little and kind of threw me off kilter for the rest of the day. I know no harm was meant but I just haven’t been able to shake the mood all day.

Anyway by the end of the “dissection” it was about 11:30am and I really was not in the mood for lab work (nightmare situation when you have a ton to do!) so I ended up floundering for a bit but then to do something productive I decided to work on my abstract for the SGM Young Microbiologist competition. My supervisor got his official invite today which is what brought it to the front of my mind. Interestingly remembering that I’m up for this award did nothing to make me feel better about my abilities as a researcher (Impostor syndrome at its finest I think you’ll agree…).

Break for a late lunch – 2-2:30pm. 

By this point I still haven’t shaken off the bad mood but I did manage to tell myself to get it together and go and do some lab work, I knew I’d feel better if I could at least knock a few things off my to do list. So for 30mins I sat down and did a little planning (it helps ease my stress) and then spent 3-5:45pm in the lab getting some jobs done that have dragged on from last week. I left at 6pm in a moderately better mood.

I spent my evening doing a little bit of online soul searching, and found this post from The Thesis Whisperer. It made me feel better :).

Tomorrow is another day and I will make it count for something, starting with a new motivational desktop background and a much more upbeat attitude … until then…

Image from PInterest (no copyright infringement intended)
Image from PInterest (no copyright infringement intended)

10 thoughts on “Tuesday 02/06/2015

  1. I think a blog about the day-to-day aspects of a PhD with no any negative posts would not be a fair reflection of what a PhD is like at all! For me at least, graduate studies can be demoralising, stressful and downright depressing at times and I think you definitely did the right thing by writing up your day in the way you did.

    Keep up the blog I really like the idea!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sam, thank you! It’s really nice to get positive feedback 🙂
      I think I was reluctant because I was actually feeling a little angry rather than just demoralised but you’re completely right, it would be highly unrealistic to write this blog without the negative side (I set out to be honest!). Today is a new day and I’ve already decided it will be much more positive 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Sam. I’m currently an MA student, so I’ve the joys of a PhD yet (hopefully!) to come, but I don’t see you as adding to the negativity that is out there at all. Rather I see you discussing usefully what got you down and finding a way through it, and posting better the following day. You’re reflecting the reality of PhD life, which is that there are ups and downs to overcome, and why this blog is so useful to someone like me.
    I’m very familiar with imposter syndrome, struggling with it badly myself. I find what’s really useful is asking friends for strong, positive comments about yourself, adding things you’ve done that you’re proud of, a few inspirational quotes that really do help, and positive comments from feedback from work that you’ve done and creating a sort of mashup poster/wall/scrapbook – whatever works for you – and keeping it somewhere where it will help keep you motivated. For me, that’s the wall above my computer. Some of my quotes are discipline related so not useful for you (I’m humanities) but one might be good. Try this: “Don’t let others, whose opinions often are not worth much, be the deciding factor in your self-assessment. Listen to critics, but in the end, find your value from inside yourself.” (that’ was by Robert J Sternberg, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 26, 2015 – http://chronicle.com/article/Career-Advice-From-an-Oldish/230335/).
    On the subject of others…. you don’t say who these people are who were discussing your work that got you so down, but just remember, not everyone is going to criticise you with good motives – some may be jealous of your capabilities and be working to try to undermine you (sad as it is to say). Just bear that in mind when listening to criticism.

    Thank you for this blog – its a great idea and I’m seriously thinking of doing something similar, as it’ll be a really good thing to help chart my journey and progress through the next few years.


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