Closing chapters imperfectly written

I am close to finish my PhD, and it’s nice to look back at those years. It has been an incredible experience, full of both rewarding and disappointing moments. Close to the end of this chapter of my life, I can say I am very happy I did it, and going back in time, I would do many things again. Many, but not all. But let me explain.

Yes, PhD being stressful is an old cliché. Some of us have bad supervisors; some have bad working environments; some might suffer the distance from friends or family; others can’t find satisfaction in what they perceive as a useless research, maybe too difficult or even too easy. We worry about our future, wondering whether academia will have a place for us, or if we appeal industry enough. But it wasn’t my case. I did an industrial PhD in Engineering, so I had good chance of employment. And my academic supervisors are amazing and never doubt my capacities. Yet, being a PhD involved for me incredibly stressing moments, in many of which, I thought I would have quit. It is only now I realise the reasons for such discomfort were not to be found in supervisors, colleagues or the topic I study. It was all in my head.

Mental health in PhD students is now a PhD topic. Awareness on the subject is rising, but the problem is far to be solved. Personally, I looked back at what it might have helped me. I needed to know I was not alone in feeling like this. I needed to know that, in science, it is normal that many things don’t go as planned. And that bad results are things I must deal with every day, and above all, they did not define me as a failure. That’s why I opened this blog. To tell young PhDs what I needed to be told.

So here we are. I will write about a specific topic every now and then – as a PhD student, procrastination is what defines me! I will cover issues I am realising now, approaching the end of my studies; or things I discovered back then, but never had the chance to tell the big world. I hope this blog will help somebody out there, trying to cope with low self-esteem, imposter syndrome and many things I’ll discuss in the next weeks.

In addition, if you need support, you can contact me at zerirandom@gmail.com. You can also suggest topics you would like me to talk! Or maybe tell me experiences you would like to share anonymously. You might be surprised to learn how many people feel like you do!

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