PhD Lesson 1: Humility is a Virtue. Or: Reality Check.

I had my first meeting with my supervisor today, and let’s just say it wasn’t a rousing success. Apparently I’m not nearly as prepared as I should be, and my proposal – the one that earned me both places I applied for – is not workable…!

It left me wondering if this is really what I want to do. And maybe that was her intention. Just to double-check… 

Is this really what I want to do?

Imagining all the money and all the time I plan to spend on this – is this the best thing I can imagine doing with it all? Yes or no?

Am I doing this because it’s a safe compromise of wanting to write and learn and wanting to have a job in the end? Wanting to move on from where I am? Wanting to make sure I’ll not ever have to depend on my family again? What is it? Yes, I love research. But do I love it enough to face it year after year, day after day?

Did I just prove to myself that I could have this if I wanted it – and I can stop there, because that’s all I needed to know? 

Am I just looking for something to do, and this is a possibility?

Is this worth three to five years of my time and energy and sanity?

Just asking. 

‘Cause now is the time to decide.

Let’s have a yes or no on this one first.

If yes, go ahead and fight for it. And pay whatever the costs, in every way.

If no, we’ll then ask what other dreams those kind of resources could make come true. 

(If I do want to go back to uni, why not do that Creative Writing course I’ve always wanted to do…? And if writing is what I want, do I need a degree to do it…?)

And my answer very much has to be my own. Telling everyone I’m not doing this after all would still be better than to spend so much of my resources on something I don’t really want. 

But for now, I will get some sleep. The woman scared me off, and I’m not going to make decisions based on fear of failure, fear of feeling as stupid in front of her again as I felt today. If I want it, I want it. If I don’t really, I don’t, and I won’t.

Thank God I’ll have time this week to clear my head on this.

She’s thrown the ‘what if’s wide open again. And I have to choose what to do. Maybe it’s a lucky escape, a chance to change my mind, or the opportunity to fight for something great.

So, is it?

Is it great?

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4 Responses to PhD Lesson 1: Humility is a Virtue. Or: Reality Check.

  1. debiriley says:

    it is a big commitment. But, one would think…. imo… The Woman would be more positive and encouraging towards others – who Want To Learn and Grow. So, maybe ? it was more her than you. I don’t know, just thinking out loud. I don’t know if one person’s attitude or opinion, ought to unduly influence a driving passion you have. (I’m a bit annoyed that she scared you off!) trust yourself 🙂

    • anyushka says:

      thank you :)! that’s a much needed reminder…
      I think she really intended to be as blunt as she could possibly be – she’s supervising some other PhD projects at the moment that aren’t going that well, it seems, mostly because the students underestimated the amount of time and effort needed to push through this. So I’m reaping her frustration instead of them!
      With all the academic papers I’ve read so far, at university and since then, I never had the impression that any of this is really beyond my capabilities. But now I do wonder. Especially if she’s supervising me – I can do fine academically but I’m not sure I can deal for a few years with the level of self-doubt she instills in me! Thanks for being a bit annoyed on my behalf ;)…

  2. Bill Britton says:

    I found the Ph.D. environment very intimidating and non-nurturing after coming from an evangelical seminar. I wasn’t really as prepared academically as I should have been either. In the end, I didn’t stay. (I think they think they have to scare you at first, just so what they do doesn’t seem common or easy.) Tough decision. May God give you peace on which way to go.

    • anyushka says:

      Thanks Bill. I’ll have myself a quiet week away from both work and PhD to clear my mind and pray about what I really want to do. Is this the battle I want to pick? (Do I have to pick a battle at all…?)
      And I agree – I already got an impression in that first meeting about how intimidating and non-nurturing the place seems. My memories of being at university as a MA student are not like that. Maybe it’s also harder in the UK than it is in Germany. Even though I pay thousands here for the opportunity, so one would think there’s space for support somewhere…
      So I ask myself, is there something else I could/would love to do with this amount of time, money and effort? Something I would enjoy more, something that satisfies me on more than just an intellectual level? I’m not interested in the PhD because I want a career. I’m in it for the learning, understanding, searching, writing. Possibly I can do all of those things in ways more life-giving than this.
      Prayers will be appreciated :)…

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