Waiting, anxiety and impatience

Happy new year one and all! It is January, and Christmas and New Year are over, and 2014 is beginning. It has been almost exactly a month since my thesis was submitted. Thank goodness for Christmas and New Year and a small holiday away to distract me from wondering about my examiners and whether they have read my thesis yet, and if they liked it or hated it and what corrections they have for me and how much more work I am going to have to do when the reports come in and if they will withhold their identities or declare them and how much of the reports I will therefore get to read and if they have worked out yet that I might be a fake. You may be able to tell that I am (a bit) anxious and uncomfortable with this concept of waiting. I am not, by nature, a patient person. And I have not been as distracted as I hoped to be.

The last thing that I mentioned in that long, anxiety-filled list is the thing that makes me most uncomfortable. That I may be found out as a fake, an imposter, someone who should not be called ‘Dr’ anything. I am sure I am not the first PhD student that, either before, during or after PhD study, has felt like someone is going to leap out at a conference or from the pages of an examiner’s report and out me as an imposter doing a very good impersonation of a competent researcher. All the same, the idea that I am not alone in this doesn’t offer much comfort. I am the one, for now at least, in the midst of all this waiting and impatience and anxiety feeling like all the other PhD students and post-Docs all have it licked and I am the weirdo who is wondering when the other shoe will drop.

Perhaps this is normal. A normal part of this thing called ‘the PhD journey’ that we all have to go through. I am sure my second conference presentation will go better than the first (which was a disaster – perhaps for another post). I am sure I will get less freaked out when people ask me what my work is about and I have to tell them in short, comprehensible soundbites. I am sure I will get less defensive about my research around my colleagues, many of whom don’t fully agree with some of my findings and conclusions. I am sure the idea of writing papers out of my thesis and submitting them to journals will (hopefully very soon) become less than absolutely terrifying. But right now I am freaked out and defensive and terrified, and feel like, in spite of just have written over 83000 words on the subject of my research, I really have no idea what I am talking about. So, this is not a great part of the journey for me. But, I shall try to embrace the waiting, anxiety and impatience and endure this part of the journey with as much grace as I can, and try to keep the neurotic panic to a minimum. I will probably fail at this at least once, but I will claim that as part of the journey too!

PS: the posts between now and when the reports come in won’t all be like this. Just in case you were starting to worry :-). Next week: some thoughts on the relationship between your data and your theoretical framework.

One comment

  1. This is enlightening to read. I feel like I have a better understanding of what my husband is going through after reading this. So many similarities. I’ve heard him say the same things, he feels like a fraud sometimes, too! These types of statements have confused the heck out of me but after reading this I feel a sigh of relief! Thank you! 🙂

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