The big C

18 Feb

Today I had one of those moments that (from trawling the internet) appears to have happened to many phd students: hating academia utterly and completely. It seems like most people go through it – wondering how they got to the point of deciding to start the phd, let alone reaching a point where they feel able to complete it.

I am well aware that my main problem is confidence. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve always thought I’d be found out as some kind of fraud and that I had made it where I was because of a lot of luck and other people equating enthusiasm with ability. Even when I passed additional qualifications or got letters and cards that should have given me faith in myself I wouldn’t ever believe what was said. I love writing, love my topic, and I really love where the research is going. BUT (of course there is a but!) I have started to hate academia already, particularly the feeling of inadequacy that follows me everywhere as soon as I step away from my desk and have to interact on any academic level with anyone and they’ll find me out.

And so, I hope this post becomes the realisation that I have found the battleground of my PhD: self-confidence. I don’t know how to change it, but I hope that recognising it is the first step to ensuring I don’t quit…

Now I know this is all self-pitying twoddle, but apparently it’s normal to feel like this… A more amusing stance on the issue is evident in this list of acronyms for PhD (taken from http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~taneja/phd.html):

Patiently hoping for a Degree
Piled higher and Deeper
Professorship? hah! Dream on!
Please hire. Desperate.
Pour him a Drink
Philosophically Disturbed
Probably headed for Divorce
Probably heavily in Debt
Patiently headed Downhill…
Permanent head Damage
Potential heavy Drinker
Professional hamburger Dispenser… “Would you like fries with that?”
Post hole Digger
Professional hair Dresser
Piano hauling Done
Pizza hut Driver
Pretty heavily Depressed
Prozac handouts Desired
Pretty heavy Diploma
Pretty horrible dissertation
…and the funniest of them all – Philosophiae doctor

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3 Responses to “The big C”

  1. stitchscience February 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Confidence issues and imposter syndrome are rife in academia. I felt the same way about my PhD for a long time. It’s not pleasant but it can be gotten through.

    • Lil' old young me. February 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks… I’m sure everyone who completes ends up stronger at the end but it seems like the bumpy road is full of a few more potholes than I was expecting at this stage! Thanks for the encouragement and all the best with yours.

      • stitchscience February 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

        That can be the way. I still have periods were it is a desperate struggle and I hate it with a passion but thats happening a bit less since I owned up to it. Hope the study goes well. 🙂

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