I have no idea where the months go, I really don’t. I keep waking up to find it’s a new month. However, since this one is March I am quite happy. Winter is blessedly over and as I’m not freezing to death all the time now, I am feeling much better about this whole PhD thing.
I managed to have an entire conversation with a just-finished-their-viva fellow MS student today without one moment of anxiety about what is coming! I feel that’s a remarkable improvement. I’m not really very stressed about any of the PhD right now, which I am quite certain will change by June, when my annual review comes due and I have to justify what I’ve spent the last year doing to people other than my supervisor. It’s like the APG, except worse, because you have more to justify!
I think I have managed to cure myself of the PhD anxiety, however, by doing something even more terrifying. It puts life in perspective. In…gosh! 55 days I leave for southern France and very promptly (the next day) I will be walking across the Pyrenees to Spain to begin the 800km of the Camino Frances. Yes, the plane tickets are booked. There’s no turning back now. This terrifies me, so naturally, the PhD isn’t worrying me at all. If I’d known it was this easy I would have done something like this last year. Like skydiving or some such…
Anxiety levels are always high in a PhD programme. And everyone feeds into everyone else. The first years are nervous about being here and their upcoming APGs. The second years are all panicking about their field work and how well they don’t think it’s going. The third years are very stressed about writing up and the fourth years are having panic attacks about finishing the darn thing sometime before they grow old. All of that forms one big massive anxiety soup! Yes, we often talk to each other and help ourselves calm down, but that rarely lasts for long. It’s a high stress job and don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s more stressful if you think about the big things, but I try not to for that very reason.
No: finances, future job prospects, current employment reality, word counts, viva, submission dates or, in fact, anything that happens more than 6 months from today.
However I have a yes to: my duties in the department, the conference upcoming, my field work, my upcoming field work, my summer field work (noticing a pattern here?), the Camino and ALL OF RESEARCH WEEK. That’s quite enough to be getting on with.
Today however? I just basked in our new viva-ed PhD celebratory ora. It was quite nice!