>phd_year(4) = 2

It’s Sunday night, and I’m looking off my balcony, at the city below. I can actually see campus from here, it’s pretty easy to spot on account of what looks like a flashing cigarette standing tall above the nuclear reactor. It really does look close from way up here. Hard to believe it still takes almost thirty minutes by bus to get there in the morning. Speaking of, I should check that all my alarms are set again. I should probably give myself an hour or so to get to campus just in case…

On long timescales, I can confidently say that I am not an anxious person. I’ve never really been concerned with my future job prospects, and I certainly didn’t expect to make it to Doctor. I’ve kind of just gone with the flow and followed my interests. Let’s call this “being fluid”. On the other hand, I am writing this as I wait for a guest for my radio show to arrive at the studio. I decided it would be a good idea for me to be here at least an hour early. He should be arriving in the next 45 minutes.

I suppose I’m more like Silly Putty.

I’d rather not describe this sort of behavior as “high strung”, but rather, “proactively anxious”. Proactive because I’m productive in these idle times. Instead of getting distracted and anxious about missing an appointment, I’ve adapted by becoming flexible about where and when I work. You are very unlikely to find me without a notebook.

Always be prepared!

I’m not delusional, I’m aware that this is me playing into and enabling a bad habit. But while I exist in my specific bubble of academia, it works. But here’s the thing; the bubble is about to pop. I’ve never been too concerned about my future, but this short timescale anxiety is blossoming into something bigger, and here it is:

Will I be able to find a career that lets me entertain and give so much power to my anxious habits? Unlikely. 

I’m anxious about having to learn to manage my anxieties. 

I guess I’m also concerned that I won’t be able to have afternoon naps at my own discretion, but that’s a different issue altogether.

I need to accomplish tangible goals to graduate like writing a thesis, but I am considering the goal of getting some of my personal anxieties in order a graduation requirement as well. My plan of attack for this particular issue is two-pronged. 

  1. I will set a top-down, brute-force rule of being no more than 10 minutes early for any appointment unless explicitly required to. 
  2. I will try bottom-up retraining via mindfulness. 

I don’t have a solid idea of how I will do 2) yet, but the point is to work this problem from both sides – treating the symptom (1) while addressing the underlying problem (2). 

Maybe I’ll even try being late to some things, to prove to myself the world won’t end. 


>phd_year(4) is my attempt to openly and honestly record my final year as a Ph.D student. I am in a position that I believe many near-grads go through – transitioning to life outside academia. However, my experiences are my own. I acknowledge that my story exists within the context of my privilege, and will do my best to not overstep the format of personal narrative.

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