PhD positivity: Turning it around

So, the last blog I wrote was a tad erm negative, but I am glad to say that I have turned it around and the plates are once again safely spinning! While I find it really cathartic to blog about the negative aspects of PhD life and use this platform as an emotional outlet, I also think it is beneficial for me to blog about the positive things that are happing in my life to celebrate and give hope to those of you who are deep in the valley of shit (See https://thesiswhisperer.com/2012/05/08/the-valley-of-shit/ for a fantastic and totally relatable blog).

What changed?

While I was trudging through the valley of shit I somehow managed to publish the first paper from my PhD research and finished transcribing my first round of interviews *Cue round of applause*. I also presented at a fantastic conference (PsyPAG 2018) and have almost finished editing a section of the PsyPAG Guide to Postgraduate Study. During this time, I have really put effort into my physical health and social life. I’ve made a lot of new friends at a time when I felt like everyone was leaving me and I am a lot happier because of this.

This rollercoaster of emotions made me realise that this is exactly what a PhD is – a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs, but the ups make it all worth it. It’s important to remember why you wanted to do a PhD in the first place and hold onto that thought when everything seems to be going wrong.

Surround yourself with supportive people

I am incredibly lucky that I have a fantastic support network of fellow PhD students. These people have been there to laugh and cry with, and most importantly rant to. One of my closest friends and I have recently created and committed to a weekly meetup, otherwise known as ‘wine and whine night’. At wine and whine night we drink wine and whine about whatever is going on in our lives and it is brilliant!! I now look forward to this meeting every week and always feel a lot better because of it (I’m still not sure if this is because of the wine or the whining?).

Celebrate the small things

I was recently advised to make sure I celebrate each achievement in academia and this is possibly one of the best PhD-related piece of advice I have received. Academia can be shitty sometimes. Like really shitty. So it’s important to celebrate each achievement, whether this is publishing a paper, receiving ethical approval, receiving a grant, or finishing a thesis chapter. No one else is going to celebrate it for you. I celebrated my recently published paper by hijacking wine and whine night, turning it into an evening of celebration and secco. So take some time to be a bit self-indulgent and recognise how awesome you are!

 

 

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