You always here all sorts of stories about the mental health of PhD students, I don’t personally believe we’re all the jibbering wrecks we’re made out to be in newspaper articles but that doesn’t mean that a little perspective isn’t useful to us all sometimes. We are, after all, in the process of dedicating ourselves to one very small area of knowledge that, while hugely significant to us, in the grand scheme of life is just one very small area of knowledge. In order to help any boarder line jibbering wrecks out there I thought I would send you in the direction of this article and highlight a few of the points that might directly apply to current or future PhD students…
#2 – Contributing something new to your field is always going to give you problems, the sooner you tackle them the sooner you move forward (to the next problem of course).
#4 – In this one replace loving someone too much with working too much on your PhD. Remember you’re a person and it’s ok to have weekends and to go home at a reasonable hour sometimes.
#7 – Mistakes might led to new discoveries, or to having to repeat something, but at least you aren’t going to make that mistake again.
#12 – Falls closely in with #7 and particularly applies to those times when you need to write things up or present work. Of course you can always gather that little bit more data but at some point you need tell the world what your doing and that can be scary.
#15 – This is a biggie, everyone’s PhD is unique so there is no way to compare yourself against others, even those in a similar field, instead measure yourself against you.
#17 – Personally I think it’s ok to have a moan (in labs at least) when something that should work doesn’t, provided you’re also trying to work out why. Finding out the why might lead to new research opportunities you didn’t expect.
#20 – Despite what this article says, you do need to explain your work to others when in research. Especially your PhD supervisor and thesis committee, if you’re capable of justifying your work you’ll be fine.
#21 – Again I emphasise it’s ok to have a weekend!
#23 – “The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done” if you don’t get things done you won’t be able to write a thesis.
#24 – You’re already doing or thinking about a PhD, so I don’t think this one applies. None of us have taken the easy way out.
#25 – In research everything won’t always been fine and it will be tough, but can I recommend keeping your tears for your other half or your mum rather than your supervisor.
#30 – There are many other people who might want be to be where you are, you had the skills and seized opportunities to get here, remember that.
Sanity restored? Good 🙂