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22 Responses

  1. Tolu
    Tolu at | | Reply

    Great Piece, Like Micheal Jackson said; “You are not alone ;-]”

  2. Nikki
    Nikki at | | Reply

    This is like reading about my life! Thanks so much for sharing, just what I needed to read tonight. I am coming up the final stages of my PhD with what feels like so far to go. I’m not alone in my guilt, rubbish tv and panic…….! X

  3. Mia
    Mia at | | Reply

    I completely agree with your writing! This is both hilarious and accurate. Every point you made fit me to the tee, except for the dream about promotion. My dream, when finished is to celebrate with the Asian hot air balloons, all lit up flying high. So I guess the dream of the end may differ but the result is the same. A ceremony for completing some journey that effects you in ways you could never imagine. I feel you self-induced pain. And I am also in the social sciences. Good luck, humor helps.

  4. Shakeel
    Shakeel at | | Reply

    just like others even I could relate myself with your story. very well written.

  5. Wendy
    Wendy at | | Reply

    This was a fabulously timed article and extremely appropriate! Trust and believe you are NOT alone!

  6. susanne
    susanne at | | Reply

    You can be happy that you are not working in the field of natural sciences or mathematics where everything you wrote applies too, but where there also is the pressure to publicate something important in a very short time. Also if you are a girl your male colleages won’t be eager to help you just that they could say they knew you won’t make it.

  7. Z
    Z at | | Reply

    I love your article! :) You are not alone! I am a phd student in Australia and I share all your struggles. right down to loving grey’s anatomy! I am in my final stages of thesis writing and I’m glad to have found someone who is still not jaded by the process.

  8. DP McManus
    DP McManus at | | Reply

    I’ve had a doctorate for a while. I once believed that I could prove myself somehow through getting it. But I still have that “imposter syndrome.” I think, “how can someone like me have gotten a doctorate?” But all that aside, I have a doctorate, and I teach at a community college and am a free-lance writer/editor. It’s not high-powered Ivy League stuff, but it works for me. And now, my focus is less what someone will think of me than how I can help students who are struggling.

    Yet I sometimes think I don’t belong, don’t know as much, don’t speak as well as others, don’t have as good ideas–and those times, it’s an effort of will to go forward anyway, do the best I can with what I have–I have to keep reminding myself, it’s not about how perfect or bright or well-spoken I am–but how can I help students who might need whatever I have to offer. Sometimes that feels like very little, but even then I need enough confidence and faith in myself and my abilities to trust that what I offer has value, much more so than if I withdraw into myself and beat myself up for not being better.

    In academic life, we meet others who, like us, are driven, bright, have succeeded in some fashion before entering grad school, and so it’s easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves and feeling we come up short. But we wouldn’t be where we are if some committee didn’t see our potential and accepted our application. To use an analogy of professional sports, the college basketball star who moves into the NBA is then competing with the best in the game. Similarly as we move up, we’re in more elite company, and that can be both exciting and scary.

    I won’t say I’m any kind of star, not by any means, but I know now I have to keep things in perspective, do the work before me each day as well as I can, and then not worry or over-think things. Not easy some days.

  9. Ann
    Ann at | | Reply

    I am also a PhD student, in the course work phase, but also trying to finalize my research topic these days. It really becomes very frustrating a lot of times to see that the world of academia is totally different from what we perceived it to be. The supervisors and all the people on the graduate supervison committees are not there to help you or provide you actual guidance and correct advice. You just have to do everything from scratch yourself. It is a vicious cycle indeed. The supervisors and co supervisors are there just to increase their list of publications and get promotions in their career.

  10. Laura
    Laura at | | Reply

    This was EXACTLY what I needed to read right now :) I’m struggling, procrastinating, loving it, hating it, worrying constantly about it. But you’re right – it will be worth it!

  11. Milene Matos
    Milene Matos at | | Reply

    Dear Leonie, trust me: you are not alone! I finished my PhD in Biology, 3 years ago. Reading your article was like time-traveling, Actually, those perks you mentioned got me in a post-doc… Why?! :)

  12. Dinis Geraldes
    Dinis Geraldes at | | Reply

    just came across this…

    why, oh why do we do this!?!?
    you’re right, it has perks… but most of the time it’s just pure masochism…

    i so wish i was somewhere else now…

    still have half of it to go…

  13. AD
    AD at | | Reply

    Just wow….I am a PhD student starting my third year and I really felt you are speaking my thought thanks a lot I feel better knowing that am not alone.

  14. Ndjogui Thomas
    Ndjogui Thomas at | | Reply

    Dear Leonie,
    Thanks a lot for this confessions! I think they describe the conditions of many Phd students. Personnally, I am happy to know that we are many and then I am more confident and hopeful!.

  15. SSW
    SSW at | | Reply

    I feel like I could have written an eerily similar piece about my current experience. Thanks for sharing. I needed to hear that I’m not alone!

  16. Ed W
    Ed W at | | Reply

    6 months in and bugger all done it seems. Typed “PHD struggling” into google to stave off the monotony and here I am. And I feel a whole heap better after reading your article, thanks! Now, where is that DVD I shouldn’t watch…?

  17. Liz
    Liz at | | Reply

    Thank goodness for people like you who are brave enough to write what we’re all thinking. It’s not just you. In fact, I’m not sure I’d get on with any postgrad I met who already thought they were the perfect package of expert and researcher.

  18. rookie.chika
    rookie.chika at | | Reply

    Thank you very much for this! Finally someone with whom I can correlate my PhD experience with…. My confession: I started following my first Kardashian sister days ago while ‘reviewing’ some papers for my first chapter… thanks for letting me know I am not the only one !!!

  19. Lelka
    Lelka at | | Reply

    Did you fulfill your dream? Are you a PhD now? Is it normal that I can totally relate to this article one week into phd. I look at all these people around me and understand that I lack their enthusiasm. ..

  20. San
    San at | | Reply

    This was a much needed article. I am doing a PhD in Chemistry. My challenges are slightly different but the emotions are the same. It is comforting to know that I am not alone. I really like that part about the celebrations, I’m going to use that as motivation.

  21. pooja
    pooja at | | Reply

    You are not alone! NOT AT ALL! Same pinch :P :D

  22. Juhi
    Juhi at | | Reply

    I happen to be in the middle of the coursework phase, and ALL of this rings true, ALL OF IT. It’s like you got into my head and wrote this D: I still wonder how I’m doing a PhD. I had the most terrible grades in school and still think of myself as quite an idiot. Thank you for this! It’s good to know this feeling is normal.

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