As the cooler months come upon us, I’m prompted to reflect. The rollercoaster ride that is the first months of PhD student life has been both disorienting and clarifying. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the first semester of PGR study is humbling. I’m constantly reminded of how much I don’t know, how much I want to know, and how much I will never know. Still, I wander off the path I’m meant to be making – the one I’ve mapped out with my supervisor and dedicated myself to – to find little curiosities. It’s quite an adventure.
Focusing my attention on my research goals has been a challenge at times, as I’m pulled in all directions by these curiosities. I’m studying mystics and monstrosity, but what if I approached it from x angle, or what about y? X and Y are both so fascinating. It’s hard to push them aside and remember what I’m here to do. So, I indulge. Sometimes too much and other times just enough. These periods of indulgence work their way into my writing, and I find I’ve produced paragraphs about something I’m not really meant to be doing. I’ve saved hundreds of words, put them aside, for a fantasy of ‘future work’ I’m not likely to revisit. I’m building a graveyard of my tangential ramblings and I enjoy strolling through it far too much. Still, I’m happy to build it. It’s part of my journey.
I’m still struggling to find a work/life balance. My work feels like my life, but then life gets in the way. Medical problems, personal struggles, mental health, fitness, family, etc. At times I lose my sense of humanity and forget that I’m allowed to struggle and have bad days. Forgetting this leads to more bad days until I finally snap out of it. I’m comforted by the knowledge that I’m surrounded by incredible people: my friends, my supervisors, and my (distant, but always present) family. I’m not alone. I can see from the journey my fellow PGRs have taken that this is part of the growing process. We’re meant to explore and struggle. When I speak to them about my struggles, I see them reflect and respond with memories of their own early days. There’s a sort of bonding in this. At the end of the day, we are where we want to be.
All of these thoughts are a bit haphazard. I wish I had something more polished to post. Still, I want to share. I hope you won’t judge me too harshly.