Monday, 29 June 2015

On Balance (or off it)

This week will be the first week since the start of June that I've been able to divide my time equally between my PhD and all the other commitments I've racked up. And to be frank, the lack of balance has been throwing me off recently.

This isn't really a complaint: I've done amazing things since the start of June that I never would have thought would be achievable in the next three years, let alone within four weeks. (If you're wondering how the Aspire conference went - it was amazing. I've actually not blogged about it yet because I want to do it justice.) But the lack of balance has been worrying me: suddenly my PhD seemed a remote idea; something quaint and loose and not pressing; something removed from my everyday life.

As a part-time PhD student and sufferer of imposter syndrome (you too? Wow! Great! We should talk.) this had been really worrying me over the last two weeks. If I can go a month doing barely any PhD work and not really minding, does that mean I care enough? Should I even be doing this? Who was I kidding, I'm not made for PhDing - I love public speaking and coaching and innovation...maybe this is a sign. Maybe I'm wasting my time!

And so on.

But, I also know that I need to be forgiving. I need to make the same allowances of myself that I do of everyone else. And I need to remember that having other elements to your identity, to your life, doesn't invalidate your identity as a researcher. (Even if the consistent noise on twitter about wordcounts and editing progress make me think every other PhD student doesn't sleep.) This isn't because I'm a special snowflake: even the most dedicated stay-in-the-lab-till-midnight PhD student is more than just that.

I suppose that for a part-timer, you have to prioritise all those other bits at the very least because otherwise you don't have money for food. But the last few weeks have done more than that: rather than seeing my enthusiasm for other times as a weakness, I'm trying to remind myself that I LOVE enthusiasm. I love it in others, and I love it in myself. And having more of that, for more things, surely can't be bad?

And speaking of enthusiasm, guess what?

I can't WAIT to get back to research later this week. 

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