Ever since April one year ago, when I last published anything on this blog I have been pondering one question in various forms:
“Will I be able to finish this PhD?”
That same question has also been asked by others. I’ve had a very caring person ask me to consider how much of myself I should be sacrificing for a PhD. But my motivation has also been questioned in a very harsh way, causing a lot of stress and anxiety.
Since I started my PhD in the fall of 2013 my family has gone through a lot, ranging from deaths to serious health issues to the births of 3 children, with more on the way. I have had a lot on my plate, to say the least. In the end it’s not a surprise that I’ve felt guilty of being distracted from my research. Our PhDs has a way of becoming the major thing in our lives. It’s even the only thing in some candidates life. But the truth is that the question isn’t if you have what it takes to complete your PhD or any other goal. It isn’t about why you can’t catch a break and focus all your attention on your work. In fact there is no question.
It’s just life.
Your life dosen’t enter a pause mode when you start your PhD. It keeps on going, sometimes at high speed and there is no getting off. You need to deal with the good and the bad as best you can. And you need to take responsibility for your own health and force the surroundings to realize that you are a person, and with that comes a life that has to be lived. Old-schoolers like to say that the PhD was the best time of their lives with freedom to do whatever excited them the most.
“You will never be as free as you are now”.
But even if that holds true for your research life it’s hardly ever the case for any other aspect of life.
I’m fantastically lucky to have two mentors that I can honestly discuss my PhD-life with. Recently they both told me: it’s YOUR PhD and YOUR life.
Take charge and make it work for you.
Now I’m here, looking back at my PhD and my life since the fall of 2013 and yeah, I’m proud. I didn’t deal well with everything that happened but I didn’t give up. And despite it all, I got a bunch of science done.