The third year of my PhD process was quite the experience. I had accomplished so much (and then some,) for a second I thought how could there be more.
SPOILER ALERT: There’s always more. Lol.
I had heard of that “grad school rut,” the “darkest hour” and didn’t fully know what it was until I experienced it. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand. It’s that time after you have completed all your degree requirements with the only thing left to do is defend your research and graduate. Sounds simple right? Nope.
This is the grueling part. The part of the marathon where you’re too far in to turn around and not in far enough to see the finish line. The part where you’ve gained enough knowledge and experience to know what’s required to complete your degree, but you can’t see how you have the physical and mental ability to get there.
THIS part is the best part to kick it up a notch.
Yep, I said it. KICK IT UP A NOTCH. Keep in mind the goal (getting that piece of paper), just keep it in the back of your mind for now. As I started to feel myself stalling, I revved up the engine. I started enhancing and filling gaps in other aspects of my life. I started reading books for pleasure, got into meditation, donated stuff, made new friends, built stronger connections with people I care about, bought a house, co- chaired a conference, became BGSA president, and traveled among other things. I realized as I was building myself in other areas of life, it was helping me through the “PhD rut.” Most of the skills and virtues I have gained along the way are transferable to moving my research forward.
ALERT: You will reach a point, in which you are completely out of wheelhouse and THAT IS OK. This part is exponential growth.
Lean into other areas and aspects of yourself and your life, while allowing your work to run in the background. I’ve found that using a consistent routine or basic schedule specific to my research is the best way to ensure I am still making progress in my work while not having to put all my attention to it.
You know yourself better than anyone else (and if not, that’s a topic of discussion for another post), get out there and do what you were born to do.
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