An end in sight
Well I had an awkward conversation with my main-PI yesterday about some of the progress I had made and while he seemed generally supportive, it unfortunately wasn’t particularly helpful. All that work I had hoped to finish over the weekend? Still going, but there’s other things going on too so we’re counting down to the end of the term now and there’s an end to a lot of this, but it’s going to be (as always) a race to finish.
You know what’s funny. Had I not started the 365 days of academia project — my goal to blog daily about my PhD progress, we’re in year two of the project and year three of my PhD, not too bad! — I probably would’ve never noticed the theme that’s been ongoing. A deadline is fast approaching and it’s always a struggle to hit it, always. In some ways it’s helped me deal with that stress since I can demonstrably see that this has happened often and I’ve always somehow survived it. On the other hand I feel a bit shell shocked from it all and while I’ve survived the other occurrences, I can’t shake the feeling that the next one will be the one I fail.
Reading over some of the other times this has happened I realize how much of the same feelings I have over and over. For instance, this time I have several deadlines and even more on my plate. The deadlines are all grouped together, I have a talk I was awarded, my statistics class project AND homework (I hate the workload in that class), and I took on another project from my Co-PI because I have a problem.
Hi, I’m Alex and I’m a knowledge addict. It’s been two days since I took on a new project because I was excited about learning.
I have too much to do, not enough time to do it in, and nothing seems to be working. There’s been lack of sleep, there’s been yelling at the computer, which turned into gently complementing the computer, to now begging the computer. Hey, don’t judge my workflow, if the computer gods can forgive my code then maybe I can get something done. But seriously, there’s a lot. That’s the thing about doing a PhD though, there’s always something going on and some deadline that is just right around the corner. Some earthshattering event that could happen at any given moment because you cannot complete the tasks you were given.
The difference between me and a lot of other PhD’ers out there is that I have a little log of all these events. Deadlines always seem to come in groups, they are always sooner than you want them, and they are never easy to hit. There’s a pattern here and looking back I can see why a lot of people get burnt out and give up, it’s stressful and there are days when I just want to curl into a ball and hold myself because if I don’t I’ll dissolve into a pile of mush. Basically, the system is awful, but I have notes of all this and it helps to know it’s not just in my head.
With the term winding down I’m excited to get some of this stuff done. Stressed out, but excited. Like I said, a lot of competing deadlines all coming up, but hey what else is new? The nice thing is that because this is the last class I need to worry about, I will now be able to focus on getting the most out of my research. Of course, that will mean even more things to write about, hopefully with a little less rushing to deadlines (yeah, I know that’s not going to happen, but let a guy dream).
The point of today? Just that I’m in a familiar place; lots of work and not a lot of time. I have a good idea that this will end up like all the other times and everything will work out for the best, but you never know. As long as I make it to the end of the next few weeks, I’ll have hit another milestone to my PhD. So really the point of today isn’t so much that I’m in a familiar place, but more that I’ve come a long way.
It never hurts to remind myself that I’ve made forward progress, heck maybe you should remind yourself of that too.