I want to know why, when I am most of the way through my PhD studies, when I have more than 60000 (very poorly articulated but at least they are on paper) words towards my final draft, do I feel so angry?
My husband and I are heading overseas to a conference in March, in which we are writing together about the parallels and paradoxes of one-to-one teaching and PhD supervision. He has been through the PhD slog and now supervises candidates; I teach singing, am a PhD Candidate and am investigating one-to-one singing lessons. This blog is a great chance for me to think about my journey as a PhD student, and reflect on the ways it differs from my singing teaching. I am in a very difficult place right at the moment, because I feel discouraged and disheartened by the road not yet travelled, that road of synthesizing and editing and defending one’s work. I’m not sure I really want to defend my work. But that is today’s grumpy thought. I have trouble with Vivas because I’m, frankly, not too good in a combative situation. My mind goes to mush and I start to shake. Weird, huh, because I can get on stage and sing my little heart out and not be afraid at all. Different skill set, I suspect.
Among the many things I am angry about is the fact that I am angry at all. I’m not sure why I’m shitty. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that this journey is SO isolating, that I see my supervisor perhaps four times a year, and that I have not been given any teaching work at UQ, despite my obvious capacity and competence for the task. My supervisor is also the Head of School, which compounds the problem. I want to feel useful and helpful, and I’m sure that my supervisor is only acting in my best interest, because she wants me to finish the darn thing, but I am just CROSS that I’ve not even been given the chance to prove my worth.
I also feel angry with my brain, that it is not quick enough and smart enough to make obvious connections and to do things quickly. I can really feel the edges of my intelligence closing in on me. Annoying.
I feel angry with my procrastination, that saw me play 2 hours of Sims3 ON MY PHONE this morning rather than get started on writing. And that every single day is the same boring struggle to do the same thing. (This is at the end of a day when I’ve actually written 2000 words…)
I feel angry that I feel like a fraud, as apparently we all do – it’s a well documented feeling in academia, when I KNOW I know stuff, and sometimes I can even tell someone exactly where the information is from and why it’s important. At this point in my PhD studies, though, I don’t want to have to go over and do it all again. I feel so stupid at times!
So, there you are, emotion 101: Anger. Not sure where it comes on the PhD schedule of unhappy emotions, but it’s there!
Checking on a few PhD sites, here’s one that might be helpful to some, although it doesn’t really do the emotional journey justice: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~htk/thesis.htm
Here’s a funny poster on the emotional stages of a PhD: http://mmu.academia.edu/CarolHaigh/Teaching/26680/The_Stages_of_PhD
Here’s a sad PDF about dropouts of doctoral studies: ijds.org/Volume1/IJDSv1p021-033Ali13.pdf
And here’s some advice from a writer about writing: http://getalifephd.blogspot.com/2011/11/five-stages-of-writing-from-ideas-to.html
So, I kind of know where I’m at: anger – perhaps a bit of fear – a LOT of fear! And that grumpiness that comes from not getting enough exercise…