Some of the things I have learnt from doing a PhD include:
- That we are all stronger than we think, and have reserves of strength we didn’t even know about. There is no PhD thesis so terrible that it will defeat me.
- That seemingly useless things, and experiences, may one day come in handy in surprising ways – they may bring with them job opportunities, travel possibilities, friendships, new recipes, ideas that you would not otherwise have got.
- That you should always be nice to yourself, tell yourself kind things, forgive yourself for your weaknesses (hell, even try to love your weaknesses if you can), and do something fun for yourself every day, because it turns out your life is happening right now; don’t put off living.
- That the person with the really clean house is not necessarily a ‘clean’ person. Take a step back before you jump to conclusions. Maybe he or she is actually procrastinating on something else, and cleans the house to avoid something. Maybe he or she is a PhD student.
- That you should never fixate too much on ‘hating your PhD’, but instead treat it with compassion; because chances are, had you made a different life choice you would perhaps have found a way of hating that in exactly the same way, too. Because maybe it’s not the PhD, but the dormant qualities it awakens in you (perfectionism, dislike of criticism, tendency towards self-pity, fear of ‘failure’.) I say this with love, because I’ve been there too.
- That the minute you are free from the PhD, you may well find yourself procrastinating on something else if you’re not careful. Even if it’s something you’ve spent your entire PhD life fantasizing about. The Procrastination Bible is for life, not just for Christmas (and for PhD). The tomato technique, likewise, is forever. You may think you won’t need them anymore, but you may do well to keep them in mind for the next stage of your journey. They are your friends.
Right. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try and fulfil that lifelong career dream that I’ve been procrastinating on for the last six months. (Maybe if I start with just one tomato today, and take it from there…)