So as I mentioned before last week I had my annual progress review and I passed (woop woop!)! One of the comment-questions that I got as part of the review related to my self-care during the project, and although I have got some plans for self-care it’s got me thinking about how effective these plans are, and ultimately how I could make them more meaningful.
So this week has been one that I’ve been building up to for a long time – the annual progress review. Some people have described it as an ‘upgrade’ it’s basically the review meeting where your university decides that you can a) continue seemlessly into your second year, b) be fired, or c) somewhere in between.
Fortunately (??) I had booked a bit of holiday and two conferences just before it. This meant that I couldn’t overly focus on my own sense of impending doom because I needed to enjoy the holiday I had booked, attend a wedding with my partner and their family without convincing everyone in the surrounding area that I was about to be imminently fired, and network at conferences without coming across like an emotional wreck.
I channeled an old colleague and took a ‘fake it til you make it approach’ with the emotional stability, and actually had a lovely holiday and learned a lot at the conferences. When D(oom) Day came around I arrived in my review room with all my neatly written revision notes (I only know how to prepare for things like they’re an exam apparently), and it actually was far less painful than expected. The review was not without administrative glitch, but once we got to the academic part I could mostly answer the questions or else they were issues I was already considering and had a good reason for not yet having a conclusive answer (such as I haven’t read enough yet). There was one particular point which is really interesting and I’ll write about in another post because it’d be handy to get some minds together on it, but for now, the point is I passed!
Walking into my department on the day of my annual progress review I texted my partner with my sudden realisation that if things didn’t go well it could be the last time I walked into the department as a student. But it went as well as could be imagined for a pretty stressful life event, and I passed, and I am super grateful that my reviewers had some faith in me. Having the review behind me has been both settling and energising: I had felt somewhat like it was hanging over me, and getting it out of the way has meant that now I feel able to move forwards with my work and that I am trying to go back to doing some extra-curriculars – exercising, going for coffee with pals, ocassionally being still without the feeling that there is revision to be done and I am so excited for the next phase of my work.
Watch this space!
Guilty is a feeling I feel a lot of the time. Sometimes guilty for specific things (like getting a funded PhD when there are lots of people out there who are cleverer and better placed to do it, or hopelessly killing plants with wild abandon because I forget to water them) and sometimes as a more generalised feeling that I am not doing all the things that I should be doing.
One of the hardest things for me about a PhD is the lack of concrete achievements. In work there were always things I had to get to someone by a deadline that were either good enough, or they were substandard and needed redone, but shortly after needing to be redone they had to be done. Done done. Similarly with previous studies there were essays and exams, there were things that were final, and there were grades that told me how I was doing. PhDs are different to that.
Sometimes, when I am writing about my topic, I want to be polemic.
I spend most of my days reading about LGBT+ youth suicide. Some days it’s about the prevalence of it, some days it about risk and protective factors, some days it’s about the theories that try to explain it. I am really lucky because I love my project and I really believe that it has the potential to contribute new understanding to a topic super close to my own heart, and so I am really, really committed to it. But, sometimes, I just want to write in capital letters across the page:
This research is important because it is not good enough that LGBT+ young people face disproportionately high rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviours when compared to cishet youths – I am concerned, I want this to improve, and you should too!
But I don’t because that would be unprofessional, and as someone told me the other day ‘you always write for your external examiner’, and I don’t think Prof External Examiner would be very impressed. That is why I have this blog! Continue reading
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.