Honesty

Here is where I’m at.

I’ve launched a new website, and am in the process of launching a new blog. As well, I am working towards getting a subscription going, with free and paid offers. And, you know, also working my self-employed day job. That doesn’t leave a lot of time.

I’ve been considering, over the last month, how to keep this blog going. Most of what I wanted to write has been written, and although I could expand on issues presented in these posts, I think there’s enough here to be helpful to people starting, doing, or finishing a PhD. And there are no lack of other resources on the Internet. I’m not sure how much more help I can be.

That’s not to say I’m deleting this. It will remain, at least for the foreseeable future. And I will continue to respond to comments, so if you have anything you’d like to ask, please feel free. And if you’d like to share the resource with others, please feel free.

But I know myself, and I know attempting to keep this going will result in something getting ignored (either this blog, or something else more vital to a paycheque). That’s being honest with myself. And being honest with yourself is an important skill. We always know we *want* to do better, but we can’t always do so. We can’t always get everything done. That’s okay. That’s human. But trying, missing, and then feeling bad about it is a vicious cycle. It is better to make time for what you know is important and what you know you can accomplish, than to try to overwhelm yourself.

So this is me, not overwhelming myself, and being honest. I’ve really enjoyed working on this resource for other PhD students. It’s helped me a lot, and I hope it’s helped some of you! Take care of yourselves, don’t feel too much guilt, and good luck.

 

Post-Graduation

This strange and bizarre reality happens after you graduate. You’re done. DONE. It’s all over. They can’t take it away from you now (I tell myself this because the alternative is unthinkable). You are a PhD and you have a piece of paper and a hat (if you bought it) to prove it.

You are not, absolutely not, a student anymore. And herein lies the crux of the matter. Because no matter how bad it got during my PhD and no matter how many times I thought ‘the real world must be better than this’ I knew otherwise. I knew I had it good. And I miss it. And not with rose-tinted glasses either; I just plain miss all of it, and that includes the stress. At least I had something concrete to be stressed about.

Now I just stress about life in general.

But it’s a strange place to be, post-graduation. You are done. Many of your colleagues are probably finished too. You have other friends still doing it and now you are cheering them on from the ‘I finished – so can you!’ perspective. And you are either a) unemployed or b) lucky. If you are B, congrats, I’m exceedingly happy for you. If you’re A, you are probably also thinking ‘Maybe my PhD wasn’t so bad…’

Let me tell you, it wasn’t. Oh, trust me, I had months it was the Worst Thing I Have Ever Decided to Do and I regretted all my life choices. But now, on the flip side, and definitely in the A category, being a miserable PhD student is still better than being an unemployed PhD. Because at least I have something concrete to focus on: finish the PhD. Now my concrete has become the mythical: get a job. Because when people ask you ‘what do you do?’ you get to answer ‘I’m a PhD student!’ and they get excited. Now I answer ‘I’m working on a variety of things’ by which I mean job searching and making no money off trying to freelance. Generally, people get the message and stop asking. Some don’t. Then I come up with really impressive words for what I kind-of-sort-of-don’t-really-do. And they lose interest.

But hey, I have a PhD. A a LOT of people in the last months have said some version of ‘congratulations, that’s amazing’. And yes, that feels nice. For about .5 milliseconds until your brain reminds you that ‘yes, PhD: UNEMPLOYED’. But it’s weird, this post-graduation thing, because everyone around you who has not done a PhD thinks you have done the most amazing thing ever [WHICH YOU HAVE. Let me be clear, YOU HAVE.] And in your head, if you are the A person, all you hear is ‘if you can do that, why can’t you find a job?’ Because that’s what you ask yourself every single day.

If I did my PhD, and I have a shiny piece of paper to prove it, why am I still struggling with everything else in life?

Because. I promise you, others who have not done PhDs are struggling with life, and they don’t have a PhD on their wall to slightly console themselves with. But yes, most days, looking at that piece of paper fills me with no emotion whatsoever, except failure. Because yes, a PhD is a massive accomplishment, but if that’s all I do with the entire rest of my life….I’m going to have a problem.

So, things are changing. And this post is the first public step in that change. If academia is out (it is), and if no museum in this country wants to employ a PhD (or so it seems), then that leaves only one place to go.

I have always found it best to be my own boss. Hello consulting*, how are you?

*posts galore on this step-by-step process to come. And if you haven’t check out From PhD to Life yet, head right here.┬áBecause that’s been my biggest inspiration these last weeks, and if so many other people can do it, so can I.