If you've read this blog at all recently, you'll have heard about my PhD Apocalypse. Now that I can officially be classed as a 'survivor', I thought I should maybe invest some time into thinking how I could manage the situation if it were to ever arise again. (PhD, if you're listening, don't you dare...)
One of the things I did was to create a list of reasons not to give up my PhD. Currently, I have no desire to do so, but in the darkest days of apocalypse, it was sometimes all I could think about. I wrestled with myself. I really didn't want to go on, I couldn't face it, I couldn't bear it. And yet, I didn't really want to give up either.
I persevered, but I felt I needed to revisit this desire to quit. It was so strong, that I felt I needed a contingency plan. A reminder of why quitting would be a bad idea. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my reasons not to quit:
Now first off, you might have noticed I coloured it in. And I'm going to take a teeny weeny tangent to say that yes, yes I did. Colouring in is therapeutic. It makes you focus. There's a reason classrooms full of primary school children sit and do it. It can also make a scary thing less scary. (Crayola FTW!)
It's also true that most of these reasons are trivial. For example, "So that we'll be called 'Mr and Dr' and it will sound funny..." but to be completely honest, sometimes I think it's the little things that get you through. Telling myself on a daily basis that I need to keep going because this is how I'm planning on providing for my family and future children kind of adds on the pressure, if you know what I'm saying. The thought of going abroad with my work or graduating as Dr Katy Inglis (or Dr Katy Mitchell, if we get married first), are more tangible and exciting rather than scary.
Making this list started out as a joke. It was a kind of funny way to deal with a bad situation. But now I have my list on my wall, I wouldn't be without it. In fact, I'm trying to come up with reasons for a second one. Because when all you can think about is quitting and you look up and see a brightly coloured list full of reasons not to, you feel better.
So, fellow PhDers, future PhDers, academics and people in general everywhere, I put it to you, what would be on your list? I'm advocating that you all make one. I want to see pictures of reasons not to give up from universities all over the world!
Ok so maybe that's getting a bit crazy, but really, make one. Because I can guarantee you that when you're feeling like you can't make it through one more single day of your PhD, this will help. And if it doesn't, come speak to me and I'll try to help :)