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Wandering Thoughts

Because sometimes hiding behind a pen and paper is the only way we can express our true thoughts and feelings

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An Introduction – The PhD Journey

IMG_20180828_135803   Since starting my PhD two years ago, I’ve often had people ask me, “so are you in school or are you working?” and I often find it hard to answer.
So, today I hope to give you a glimpse into my experience as a PhD candidate so far. But first, a little background.
I graduated with a B.Sc in Pharmaceutical and Industrial Chemistry in 2016. To be honest, a PhD had never been the goal. I just wanted to graduate, get a masters and get a job afterwards. But life doesn’t always go as planned!
THINGS NOT TO ASK
Fast-forward to the October after my graduation. I started my PhD at my host University. Like anyone starting anything new, I was excited! I thought I would be making a groundbreaking discovery in two years and graduating in three and a half. I had everything planned out. It’s funny looking back now because I am in the third year of my PhD and I haven’t made any groundbreaking discoveries, in fact, half the time I’m asking myself “What am I doing here??”.PHD MEME.jpg

The thing about a PhD is, there is no quick formula for getting things done. You go into it thinking “I’m smart, I’ll be fine”. But what you don’t realise is that being smart isn’t the most important quality required to get a PhD. I often say it’s not your smartness that gets you through a PhD. It’s your resilience. Your stubbornness and your ability to push yourself even when you can’t see a reason to do so.

    A PhD is a full-time job. It’s no way similar to doing an undergraduate degree even though you’re still technically a student. You’re more or less allowed to do your own thing, however, 70% of the time, it won’t work. It’s also a job that doesn’t leave you. I often have dreams of my work at night or find myself awake at 01:00 a.m. thinking about my experiments. And if you’re not proactive about it, your PhD can take over your life. You can find yourself working and exhausted all the time with not that much to show for it.frabz-PhD-Student-What-students-think-I-do-What-my-supervisor-thinks-I-90c562
There’s so much I could say about the internal struggles you face, disappointments, imposter syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, etc. but I will save those for another post. I will say though, that in my opinion, a PhD is more mentally and emotionally taxing than it is physically taxing. However, most don’t know this going into it, making it that much harder to cope.

Okay, so I feel like I have succeeded in painting a grim picture, but here is the thing. Even though it’s quite challenging, there’s much joy derived from doing it. The small things like having an experiment work, or the accomplishments like getting your paper accepted in a relevant journal. Or just the knowledge that you are making a difference in one way or another. You’re investigating a problem and potentially looking for a solution.

It’s the freedom in knowing you can have an idea and run with it. It’s the creative space you have to identify and solve problems.

I’ll say it takes a certain kind of person to do a PhD, but it’s always worth it one way or the other. It’s hard work but it’s also rewarding. If I could go back in time would I still do it? Yup, I would. The PhD life is one of intense emotions and ups and downs. It isn’t for everyone and that’s okay, but it is definitely an interesting path to walk.

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Something Old but New

 A month after obtaining my B.Sc, I went back to school to start working on my Ph.D. Before I went back, I had a list of things I wanted to do outside of my research. I didn’t want to be one of those people who became so consumed with their research that they forgot how to live life. LOL. I laugh now because the thing I feared was what happened to me. A year into my Ph.D. I found myself struggling to find a balance. story for another post.palm face

I began to measure myself and my growth and progress with what those around me (and by around me, I mostly mean the people I knew back in Nigeria) were doing.

To my eyes, they were living the life, achieving their dreams and I was the struggling researcher living the work-home, work-home life 6 days a week. LOL what a silly comparison to make.

For a long time, I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t measuring up. Feeling like I was left behind,  and not progressing. But recently it struck me that yo I am doing a Ph.D.! I tend to throw the word around because I am surrounded by other Ph.D. students, but the truth is,  it’s in no way a walk in the park and the people I am constantly measuring my life with are not doing a Ph.D. and they are not me! well duh

Everyone’s journey is different and the truth is, we don’t all have the same end goal and we won’t all get to our end goals at the same time. Some people will get there at 20 others at 25 others at 30 and others at 50. Yes, we all want to achieve greatness, and we also want to be successful and happy, but the truth is, success and happiness vary for every individual. Our lives are different and the factors that surround us are different. We can’t expect to achieve everything at the same speed and in the same manner as others because we are not the same people! obv

So here are my two cents on the matter. In this social media age where everyone’s life is on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat it’s easy to feel discouraged when your mates/people you know seem to be doing so much more than you are, or seem to be having much more fun , but the truth is, most people only put up the good times. They don’t post about their struggles, their stress, their hurt, nada, so you measuring your entire life against their happy moments is not ideal and doesn’t help you in any way. It’s like measuring your physical growth against a newborn baby. I mean, you won’t get an accurate representation because you are both at two different stages of life.

measuring your entire life against their happy moments is not ideal

Moral of the story, everyone is running a different race. Your race is unique to you and as long as you are running it to the best of your ability that’s all that matters. Keep running and achieving, cut yourself some slack and celebrate your small victories!celebrate

I say this all the time because it is super important! Celebrate your victories because life can be tough at times and people can be hard to please, so when you can, celebrate those victories! They make the bigger victories that much sweeter.

 

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Relationship Bants 2

I know ya’ll have been waiting for Relationship Bants 2, well, your wait is now over!Hurray-GIF But before I go into it, can I just say that if you haven’t listened to the cover album on my last post, you really, really need to give it a listen. It is absolutely refreshing and amazing! You can find it here

Alright, so let’s jump into it, shall we?

Today I’m going to be quite brief because I don’t think I have the authority to tell you certain things, such as when you are ready to be in a relationship.

I say this because everyone is different. For example, when I was younger, I was told relationships were not for teenagers in secondary school, however, I know people who started dating in secondary school and 6-7 years later are still going strong. I also know people who waited until they were in college and ended things 3 months later. It’s pretty obvious that that specific grading curve for an individual’s readiness is not accurate. In the same way, everything I say today may or may not be applicable to you, but they are things I would personally consider before I hop into a relationship.

Before I start chatting rubbish, let me try to get my points across. We are all different people with different temperaments, which means we all have different strengths and weaknesses. How we deal with our strengths and weaknesses play a huge role in how ready we are to be in relationships (in my opinion). just

One of the major things, I think, is commitment. Remember that hurt bae video that was trending earlier this year??? The girl asked her boyfriend why he cheated on her, and the man straight up said he wasn’t ready for commitment!

That video struck a chord in me, cause often people say if you love someone you won’t cheat on the person, but fam, I don’t agree with that. I think if you are not ready, or if you don’t want to commit to someone, it becomes easy to do things to hurt the person, not because you are a bad person, but because you are not ready to be in a relationship!

hurt_bae

To me, its really simple, commitment is what keeps you together when things get bumpy or rough. Without it, things easily fall apart. So for me, it’s a big one. If you are not ready to commit then you are definitely not ready to be in a relationship.

Another thing is emotional maturity. This is sometimes hard to gauge, but there are clear markers that I would be on the lookout for. For example, someone who is emotionally abusive,  should not be in a relationship. It’s a big no no, and by emotionally abusive, I mean, if a person regularly makes you feel stupid or not good enough, or if a person is constantly making you feel like you are always wrong and they are always right, or they always play the victim I hate this one so much! or they lack empathy. Those are signs of emotional abuse and show a lack of emotional maturity. For example, Christian Grey from “50 Shades of Grey” lacked emotional maturity and in real life had no business being in a relationship! To be fair to him, he wasn’t really into that stuff until Anastasia, but that’s a story for another day! Anyways, long and short is, if you are not emotionally mature, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship.

This actually ties in with my next point, which is, if you cannot accept the fact that you are not always right, then fam, again, you have no business being in a relationship. There is no place for pride or self-righteousness in a relationship. You must be able to say you are wrong and you must be able to see reason. sorryI mean, some people (both male and female) like to think they are always right. The can never be wrong. Ah, who died and made you God -_-. You can’t always be right, so sit down and learn to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong”.

The last thing I’ll touch on is communication. This probably seems like an unnecessary addition to the list, but think about it for a minute and you’ll see how necessary it is. I mean, how do you expect to build something meaningful if you can’t talk?  If you can’t communicate how you feel, or what you want, or your hopes and fears,  how do you expect to build and grow?

If you can’t/won’t/don’t want to have honest conversations with your significant other, then  I don’t think you are ready to be in a relationship.

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Trust me, its very hurtful to be in a relationship where one person is unable to communicate, worse when both people cant!

At the end of the day, it’s hard for any one person such as myself to tell you when you are ready to be in a relationship because everyone is different. But relationships require a level of selflessness, levelheadedness and patience (plus all the things I listed above and more). If you don’t posses those things, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship at all. There is nothing wrong in being single until you are ready. It saves the world a whole lot of heartache and pain.

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