Getting started: funding and feelings…

Selfie of Hazel smiling with purple hair.

It has been a long time since I last sat down to write a blog of my own. There was a long period where maybe I didn’t have as much to say, or maybe I was doing so much that there just wasn’t time to write it down (full-time work, part-time masters, volunteering, running with EFR, all the things). Anyway, back in September I undertook a huge endeavour and decided to return to full-time education by way of starting a PhD.

Scary. Biscuits.

It was about then that I started thinking about re-starting writing and it has taken me until now to clear off my old posts and re-set up with a new blog on a new topic.

Pile of academic books.

 

When I arrived at university to do my undergraduate degree I had no idea what a PhD even was, but by the time I finished my masters I wanted to do more research and it seemed like a useful next step. At the time I was really passionate about the inclusion of LGBT+ students in universities (if you’re interested in that work, I have published on it here!) and applied for different pots of money to fund a PhD extending that work. But as these things tend to happen, whilst I was waiting to hear back on those a project was emailed around a mailing list and I was like,

‘I want that to be my PhD!’

The project was looking at how offline and online communities influence young LGBT+ people’s mental health and wellbeing. It was such a long shot! I heard about it the day before the deadline queue very rushed proposal (although fortunately it was extended), it was in public health and I had no background in public health, and I literally had no academic experience on the topic (although I did have practical experience, we’ll come back to this). To cut a long story short, I interviewed, was awarded the funding, and accepted it before I heard back about any other funding, and I was delighted.

Now I am not going to lie, doing the PhD so far has been weird. Weird because genuinely I didn’t think as many things could go wrong in such a short space of time outside of my work (at one point the ceiling in my flat literally fell in around me; a story for another time), and weird because it’s a weird way of working – completely different to any job I have had before. At 9 months in now I finally feel like maybe I have gained some rhythm and am working out (vaguely) what I should be doing and how I would like to approach my work. Part of realising that however, has been realising that I have a lot of feeling.

No I mean it: a lot of feelings.

The problem is a PhD in public health does not have room for all my feelings. In fact potentially no one and nothing has enough room for all my feelings. But the fact is I want somewhere to put them, and so here it is! Writing about my feelings really helps me to think through things, process them, and develop my ideas, and yet it is one of the first things that I cannot manage to do when my mental health is struggling. But I am going to give it a try.

Photo of Hazel on first day at university.

My first day at uni!

My intention isn’t to blog solely about my PhD (please believe that my many feelings spread out into every experience I have), but I hope that it will be helpful to my PhD so I will probably write quite a lot about my PhD feels; mostly so my friends and family do not have to listen to all of my boring chat. Now whilst I know that this might not the most interesting for folks to read, I do hope that I might connect with some other folks who find my PhD topic interesting (it has morphed from my first proposal), people who share my passion for having all the feelings, and I hope also some folks who are also enjoying the weirdness that is learning to PhD. But for now this blog is just for me, although I hope that if you’ve stumbled upon it, you might enjoy it too.

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