Friday, 20 April 2012

Thinking Evolution

First of all, apologies for the long delay in my return to blogging. As I said in my last post, there have been a lot of family things going on. Things have improved a lot since then and I have returned to life 'as normal' as a PhD student.

Over the last few weeks, postgraduate seminars held at the School have had a much more job-oriented focus. We've heard about a few of the post-docs' job seeking experiences and learned how to write academic CVs and cover letters. These sorts of things are obviously invaluable to know about if you want a career in academia - as I do - but I've noticed that alongside these events, I've had some real shifts in my thinking.

Up until recently, I'd almost been embarrassed to tell people I was a PhD student. I felt they'd think I was boasting and to be honest felt like since I didn't really know what I was doing, I couldn't really call myself that. But yet, talking to undergraduates over the last month about my experiences and starting to think about the future as an academic seems to have evolved how I think about myself as a PhD student.

Instead of the "I'm new and don't know what I'm doing!" sort of feeling, I've begun to settle into the everday life of a PhD student. I am less worried about days where I don't get so much done, because in my head I can feel an understanding of my topic developing. I find myself plotting out the 'story' of my current experiment with the literature that I know, identifying gaps and almost writing myself little memos in my head as reminders to look for specific papers or findings. And this tends to happen while I'm walking to uni, at the gym or when I'm just relaxing at home. (Of course, sod's law dictates this should never happen while I'm in my office).

I'm not saying I think everything's grand these days. I still worry about whether I'm keeping up, about how well my research is going and always "I need to be doing more". But, there is a big difference in thinking about things in this new way. I feel a bit more centred and a bit more in control too. That end goal is still a long way off, but I'm able to think about it now and plan what I want to do between now and then.

I'm also sure that this wont be the last change in attitude I experience before I finish my PhD, but this one at least means I feel a little more at home when I'm steeped in 'work'. Have your attitudes about yourself and/or your PhD changed over the time of your study? What gave you that I-can-do-this feeling?

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