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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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PhD life

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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I’m Back!


IMG-20180908-WA0032So it has been a while since I last wrote. I want to say I took time off to create more content and reorganise my life, but that would be a lie. The truth is the last few months have been challenging, and I couldn’t keep up with work/school/blogging, so I had to take a step back.
Having said all that, I am back (for the most part)! And I have a few things lined up. The one I am most excited about is a series I will be kicking off titled, “Letters to Sophia”. As the name implies, it is a series of posts written to Sophia! Who is Sophia you ask? Lol, watch this space to find out!

Another thing I will be doing in the coming months is introducing you to my life as a PhD researcher/candidate. I realise that a lot of people do not understand what a PhD journey looks like, and so I would like to share mine with you.

Finally, I will be featuring guest authors on the blog, so if you are interested in being featured, drop me a message at shaybolanta@gmail.com or send me a DM on Twitter/Instagram @shayrunn lets hook up!

In reality, this is mostly a “hey I’m still here” post, but I can’t leave without saying a little something, so here we go!
I started my blog as an escape. It was how I got stuff off my chest. It was how I shared my then unpopular opinions. However, as I have gotten older, I have learnt that my so-called unpopular opinions aren’t that unpopular and a lot of people resonate with the things I have to say. Now, this has made me quite happy, because it means I can speak my mind without judgement (sometimes) and even when I get judged, I don’t mind, because I know I am not alone in my way of thinking.
Okay, so where is the lesson here? I said thatWell, the problem is I don’t always say what I think. I hate confrontations, and I get very passionate about things, so sometimes I “un-look” to avoid unnecessary drama. And while “un-looking” is sometimes necessary to maintain peace of mind, there are times when we need to look and speak.

I have said this before, but it’s only right that my first post after months of silence is on speaking up. The older I have gotten, the more I have come to realise that the women I look up to, are women just like me. The only difference between us is that they speak up when necessary. Does this mean they get dragged on Twitter all day long? Yes!

But it also means they get to educate and inspire people all the time!happy dance

Sometimes it takes just one good connection, from one honest, down to earth conversation with a random person to push you in the right direction.

And here’s another thing. Speaking up is not always about educating and inspiring, it’s about connecting with likeminded people and I for one, am all for it! Sometimes it takes just one good connection, from one honest, down to earth conversation with a random person to push you in the right direction.
So moral of the story, you have a voice, thoughts, and opinions for many reasons. Use them, they are tools and assets, and when used wisely they can change your life in ways you never thought or dreamed!

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The “Bad Guy” Theory

For most of my life, I have had an interesting relationship with being the “bad guy” in people’s stories.
On the one hand, I genuinely don’t enjoy hurting people, and so I often allow myself to be painted as the “bad guy” (i.e. taking all the blame) when I have issues/disputes/misunderstandings with people. On the other hand, I don’t really enjoy “debating” with people (especially opinionated people who always have to be right). just noWhich means most times, when I discuss controversial or potentially controversial issues, I keep my opinion to myself. Partly because I don’t have the patience for stubborn people (lol) but mostly because I don’t want to be on the receiving end of anyone’s disapproval.
However, over the last couple of weeks, I have been toying with the idea of being the “bad guy” in the story, and I have come to a few realisations.
Realisation number one. In some situations being the “bad guy” doesn’t make you a “bad person”. For example, recently, I have read a lot of articles and posts about sexual abuse and gender equality. Surprisingly, a lot of those posts have received a large number of negative criticism even though the issues raised in the posts have been valid. Now, to a lot of people, the writers of these posts are the “bad guys” however, in reality, they aren’t the “bad guys”. In reality, they are a voice for those who are on the receiving end of gender inequality and sexual abuse which are important issues.
So what does this have to do with the “bad guy” image?excelent question Well, we live in a world with ever-increasing problems, and we often shy away from speaking up on important issues because we don’t want to be the “bad guy”. Or we do not want people to view us as the “bad guy”. However, the truth is, we cannot change the wrong things around us if we remain silent. And most times, speaking up will temporarily make you the “bad guy” because people do not like to be challenged or told they are wrong.
Another realisation is this. The “bad guy” is something fear tells you to keep you from stepping out of your comfort zone and to make you doubt your self-worth. It is probably hard to swallow this “idea” but think about it for a minute. When you don’t understand that your thoughts and opinions are valid, you shy away from voicing them. Which in turn leads to my first point. You shy away from sharing those thoughts because you are scared of the response, you might receive.

You shy away from sharing those thoughts because you are scared of the response, you might receive.

In the past, I often played the “bad guy” role because I felt if someone was upset with me, then my feelings weren’t valid. Even when the person’s emotions were misplaced, I still felt I had to be the “bad guy” so the other person would not be hurt and would feel better. I have now realised that it is not my place to prevent people from getting hurt by their actions. That is something they need to deal with themselves.
I guess at the end of the day, what I am trying to say is, it’s okay if people see you as the “bad guy” if you are doing it in the right way and for the right reason. Everybody who has made a difference in this world was a “bad guy” at one point or the other. Finally, your thoughts, feelings and opinions are valid. You don’t have to bury them or accept undeserved blame because you think you deserve it or because you are avoiding a confrontation. speak up
So speak up, your voice matters.

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You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shayrunn

What are You Thankful for?

A few weeks ago, I was talking with someone and she asked me what I was thankful for. I replied with “I’m thankful for my family.” In my mind, my family was a good thing to be thankful for, but lol, she wasn’t impressed.

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She said, “Well, it’s good to be thankful for your family, but they are not here with you. So what are you thankful for that happened today? Because it’s important to be able to be thankful or happy about things that happen in your everyday life.”

This got me thinking, and I realised that, although generally, I am thankful for many things in my life, I find it hard to see and acknowledge good things in my day-to-day life/activities.

I’ve come to learn that in life, it’s important to find joy in the small things. It is important that you don’t let situations you go through steal your peace and happiness. Life happens in stages and seasons. Sometimes you have a lot of sunshine, and on those days, it’s easy to say “Oh wow, God is good.” However, what happens when the clouds cover the sun and the winds roar? How do you deal and overcome those situations?idk

All my life, people have told me the usual “give thanks in all situations,” but I never understood it. To me, it felt like people were living in denial (in some cases they were tbh, but that’s for another day!). However, I am starting to look at it differently. The idea of giving thanks in all situations isn’t about pretending that x, y, and z aren’t happening. Rather, it’s about acknowledging the fact that although those things are happening, there is still something good in your life.

Deciding to be thankful shifts your focus from all the bad around you to the good. It isn’t always easy to do, but it’s necessary. Why? Well, sometimes the things that aren’t going right might be overwhelming. They might make it seem like there is no hope. If you keep focusing on these situations and their accompanying thoughts, you might end up in a dark place. However, when you are able to look at all the darkness and find a beautiful lone star, that star might be enough to get you going.

It’s easy to say “well nothing good happened today”, but the truth is, the things you are thankful for don’t have to be massive things. You don’t have to win the lotto or get a raise before being thankful. It can be over something as small as what you had for dinner, jollof-rice

 

or an enlightening conversation you had.

Personally, I think choosing to be thankful daily, causes you to analyse your day and find the good in it. Take my day for example. I got to work this morning and everything that could go wrong went wrong. By lunchtime, I was ready to go home and cry. Ordinarily, I would have said, I really don’t have anything to be thankful for. However, as I write this, I’m looking out the window by my desk (it’s a beautiful view) and counting all I have to be thankful for. I somehow got inspiration for this piece, (I was really stressed about what I would write about) I had a nice salad for lunch (I like good food) and to top it off, I found something I had been looking for to complete my experimental setup. So yea, maybe my day didn’t start out great and maybe nothing happened the way I wanted it to, but I can, and I have chosen to look back and be thankful.change

Moral of the story, choosing to be thankful is honestly the only way to keep going on at times. Some call it looking at the bright side, but irrespective of what it’s called, it’s a powerful tool for dealing with trying times.

Finally, lol, coming to this realisation prompted me to join a friend on twitter in finding something to be thankful for, every day. I have found it quite helpful (and challenging tbh) and today, I am inviting you to join me.  Use the hashtag #Iamthankful to post something you are thankful for every day. You can do it for a week, a month the rest of the year; it’s entirely up to you! But give it a try!

Thank you for reading today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it! You can follow me on Twitter @shayrunn

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Beautiful Storms

I was listening to a message on Sunday, and a question popped into my mind. “What if we channelled some of the energy from our frustrations, into finding joy from within?” I know this does not sound easy (trust me, I really do) but think about it for a second.
Often times, life comes at us with potholes, speed bumps and blind spots. This happens at almost every turn in life, and usually when we least expect it. It can seem worse when this happens with something you love or feel passionately about and everything around you appears to be working against you.banging head
At times like this, it is easy to get discouraged and frustrated. It is easy to forget why you started and lose focus on what it is you are doing. When this happens, we tend to get so caught up in trying to solve the problems, in what is not working and in the many things we are yet to achieve, that everywhere we look we only see grey. We focus so much on the negative, that we lose sight of what we are doing, the progress we have made and why we started in the first place. This shift in focus makes it harder to keep going, to push forward and to keep fighting.

Sometimes all we need to do is go back to what really matters, the reasons we started, the foundations of our dreams.

In my line of work, it is easy to get lost in the tiny details. This means it is also easy to get discouraged. When this happens to me, I go back and read my initial proposal. It reminds me of the reasons I started and the goal I am trying to achieve.
The same goes for relationships (any and all relationships). So often we are caught up in the idea of how or what we think a relationship should be. So much so that we get lost, trying to achieve that, instead of enjoying the person’s presence and lose out on enjoying the relationship in front of us.dancing beyonce
Moral of the story, sometimes you just need to sit back and remember why you started. Remembering why you started may not pay your rent, or get you clients, but sometimes it’s enough to give you hope. It is enough to get you to try again.
When our eyes and hearts focus on the storms of life, seeing and enjoying anything becomes almost impossible.
So maybe our minds should not focus solely on what we are trying to achieve or what is not working. Maybe we should focus on the people in our lives and find joy in the now, so we do not get lost in the process of “getting there”.

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Adventures and Borrowed Troubles

 

As a person, I generally tend to get anxious and stressed a lot. Like it’s a normal part of my everyday life. I generally overthink things which in turn means I get anxious, which means I get stressed.

For example, last week Wednesday I had to go to the Nigerian Embassy to apply for a new passport. Would you believe it if I told you I started getting stressed from Sunday? Three days before the actual event? And would you believe it if I told you the night before I barely got any sleep because I was stressed about it? mortified  smh, and why was I stressed? Well, it’s the Nigerian Embassy and I don’t know how to hustle or bribe or do all those things people do to get ahead, so I was there thinking and worrying about how they would not attend to me because I didn’t know anyone or because I couldn’t hustle or do “my brother/my sister” type of talk.

LOL, long story short, it actually was not as bad as I thought it would be and not for the reasons I anticipated.

Or, another example, this Sunday I had to drive into town, now just to bring you up to speed, myself and driving smh, let’s just say we aren’t friendsnot friends. Thankfully, I only knew I would be driving to town from the day before (Saturday) so I had less time to stress and be worried, however, on the day, LOL I was quite stressed, I even told the people who were meant to ride with me to enter at their own risk!

Lmao, las las sha, the whole driving in and out of town was actually fun and, one of the occupants of my car actually ended up inspiring this post. We were talking about something, and she said she looks at life like an adventure.

I laughed at it when she said it, but it’s actually something that I think we, (myself included) can benefit from.

Life in itself is full of many unknowns, many up’s and downs. The way you look at life and the things you go through in life determines how you respond to your situations. If you get stressed over everything you’re going to do, you’ll spend the majority of your life stressed, frustrated and tired. However, if you look at life as an adventure, then you look at each day and each experience as something new and something that could either be fun or challenging. You see the good in the experiences and find ways to have fun even in the most unlikely situations.no way

LOL, now, I know a lot of people (like myself) this probably sounds crazy and maybe even impossible, but it isn’t. Your perception situations will genuinely change the way you experience them.

An example of this is exercise. The way you view exercise will determine whether or not you do it and whether or not you enjoy it. Yes, it’s usually hard work and you might be sore afterwards, but if you view it as something that’s fun and helps relieve your stress, you actually look forward to doing it.

Long and short of the story is this. Life is like a roller coaster, but that doesn’t mean it cant be fun, and it doesn’t mean it cant be an adventure.happy dance

Face each activity and each day with the mindset that “this will actually be fun” you may not know what will happen, but instead of thinking of all the bad possibilities, think of the good. And instead of stressing when things go wrong, find a reason to laugh, smile or be thankful for everything that went right!

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p.s If you would like to be featured on my blog, drop me a line at shaybolanta@gmail.com

 

Lessons from Lupita and the Black Panther Cast…

 

So I’m not really a Marvel fan type of person. However, Black Panther was all shades of amazing and lol, if you haven’t seen it, you really should!

Okay, so, unfortunately, this isn’t a review. This post is actually about the amazing cast of Black Panther kinda and life lessons I learnt from watching interviews and basically stalking the cast. LOL

Lupita and Shuri

Let’s start with Lupita, a few years ago, someone told me I reminded them of Lupita Nyong’o. Lol, at the time, I didn’t even know who she was, but from then on I slowly started to fall in love with her.

I’ve been watching a lot of interviews of Lupita since the release of black panther, and today while scrolling through her IG, I saw a post where someone commented and said something along the lines of “Lupita living the life/always having fun” and you know what, I actually agreed with them for a second. Until I saw a post where Lupita was celebrating her birthday with the cast. The picture caused me to think about all the sacrifices actors make to create awesome movies. I mean, it takes months of practice, hours of learning scripts, study, dedication, sacrifices.

FAM, it often looks like they are living the life on opening night, but when you think about it, it actually took them a lot to get there. A lot of hard work and time too. Nothing in life is just a walk in the park. Hard work always comes into play at one point or the other. It is what makes great people great.gold star

Another thing is, when watching video interviews or reading interviews of the cast, I realised that, in spite of everything they had to learn to become their characters, Nakia, T’Challa, W’Kabi, Okoye, M’Baku, Shuri, Erik etc, they still had fun.  They had fun working, they had fun becoming their characters and they had fun creating magic. Yes, I’m pretty sure there were challenging times and yes, they probably worked long hours (I actually know nothing about filmmaking) but they still found joy in those times.

A lot of people are always waiting, they are waiting to “arrive” before they find their joy. They are waiting to get to the end of the road before they have fun and they end up forgetting to enjoy the things that are happening around them. They forget to laugh at the funny times and enjoy themselves.  Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER Global Junket Press Conference

 

Life is full of many stages. You go through different things at different times. It’s important to take as much good from every stage of your life as you possibly can. Because the truth is, there will be times of fun and enjoyment and relaxation, but there will also be times of challenges, growth and hard work. If you don’t remember to find fun and more importantly joy in every stage of life, well, life will pretty much pass you by and all you’ll have will be moments of “I wish I had” instead of fun-filled memories.

 

So in closing, Black Panther is amazing and the cast is full of amazing, good looking (wink) people. If you haven’t seen it, stop dulling! LOL

But more than the amazing cast, there are lessons we can learn from them as individuals. Their dedication, hard work, open-mindedness, unity, loyalty, and humility are things we should emulate in every area of our lives.Skill is not enough to achieve greatness. You need to be willing to put in the hard work.

just

 

As an aside, Letitia Wright is a Christian, unashamed and very open about her faith. When you get a voice, when you go from being a nobody to being a somebody, even if you are only a somebody to a handful of people, don’t be quiet. Don’t be ashamed. Speak out for what you believe in, for what you hope for. This is something that the cast of Black Panther has done repeatedly. They have advocated for women and for Africa and so much more.

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It is something we should all do. Don’t let your voice be wasted on things that don’t add value or don’t move the world or your world in the right direction.

Speak up for more! Together, little by little, we can have that more!

Thank you for reading today’s post!

Please feel free to comment, like and share!

And please, go see Black Panther!

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s post!

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