Paralysis. Thesis Diaries part 2?

This’ll be short.  But on Friday (11th Sep), I went to a Postgraduate Researcher Development seminar about ‘defeating self sabotage’.  Admittedly, I was one of few who were in the early stages of their project–at one month to one and a half months old, I was surprisingly not the freshest PhD student in the room.  There were a couple of two monthers, and there was a guy who was only two weeks in!  This surprised the speaker at the front of the room, because she had expected a lot of six monthers or older students.  But to me, I have barely even started and yet I can definitely fear everything they spoke about on Friday.  It’s not hard.  I wasn’t extremely confident when I did my Honours, and right before I finished my third year, I was already shaky, constantly thinking, what the hell am I doing?  Can I really do this?  Who’s going to think I’m capable?  My work is absolutely shit.

Yeah.  Not hard at all for me to think any and nearly all of these things.  Of course when it comes to writing academically, I got through a myriad of issues–Perfectionism, Procrastination, Imposter Syndrome…you name it, and I’ve probably experienced it already!  And that’s mostly because I myself am someone who has a lot of positivity, but sometimes not enough confidence.  Confidence fluctuates.  It will no matter how confident you are as a person, if enough bad things happen, or not enough good things happen, then it’s easy to feel lacking in confidence (I almost used the word ‘unconfident’ which I don’t think it’s a real word, yet I’m sure it’s been used and as a linguist, I am disinclined to think that it would be wrong for me to say that it’s not a real word.)

And indeed, it hits when you least expect it.  After the big confidence boost I got on Friday (I have a supervisor meeting with both my supervisors, and then the seminar in the afternoon, which while interesting, I actually zoned out at some point by accident–lack of sleep, so bad of me!) yesterday, I did nothing.  I had actually intended to further develop the ideas from the supervisory meeting on Friday, however, when I woke up, I had no desire to get up, and stayed in bed for an hour longer than usual.  Then I did get up, but had no intention of really doing anything work related because for three weeks straight, I had been working non-stop and never really feeling I was going anywhere.  So instead, I planned to go out.  With my mum.  So much fun (slightly sarcastic tone since I’m highly aware of how tedious shopping can become with my mum, since it tends to take longer than planned, and then it usually never goes the way I want it to!) which, at the end of the day, didn’t turn out so bad.  In planning such, I didn’t really expect to be lumped with a whole bunch of spring cleaning chores.  And for the these last few days to have been full of absolutely beautiful weather, sure didn’t dissuade my mother from assigning me to the washing and then after that–cleaning up the yard.

I surprisingly managed to take it all with ease, and not mind at all.  Then again, yesterday I was half asleep and it didn’t help that I wasn’t in much of a mood to argue.  I just wanted to go out, and subconsciously, I was probably also thinking I don’t want to do my thesis stuff.  I’m pretty motivated for my project.  I really want to do it, and have invested a lot of my feelings.  But, it’s also kind of really scary.  I can see my deadlines ahead of me.  I’m really aware of the fact that in just under 11 months I’ll have reached the first year of my phd and be required to do a presentation for the confirmation about where I’m up to.  And then, after that, I have another twelve months.  And then the home stretch in 2017-2018.  Three years seems like such a long time, but right now, it seems like it’s also not enough time.  Particularly, and it kind of makes me glad I decided to write something RIGHT NOW about thesis stuff, I didn’t realise that the Confirmation stage is in about 11 months and not 6 months.

You see, this morning, I woke up, got up almost immediately (around 8.30am because hey today’s a beautiful day and I couldn’t resist the vision of sunlight pouring through the curtain slits), showered, then spent over an hour preparing breakfast (wouldn’t let anyone else help me, plus their breakfast was on me for once), and only a while ago sat down.  It was when I sat down did I feel it.  Paralysis.  A mental paralysis.  Just yesterday and Friday I had motivation and an inkling of an idea of what I wanted to do next.  But the moment I sat down, I realised, a wave of panic came over me, and I didn’t know what I should be doing.  I just had this sudden mental blank.  And it abhors me to know that I could suddenly think ‘what am I supposed to be looking at?’  It makes me wonder if this is happening now, why? And then, what about when it happens next?

I think what terrified me most when I sat down, was the fact that on Friday, I went through so much with my supervisors, and this morning, I was thinking about how long until Confirmation.  And I think, for those of us who are so fresh to the course, to the exciting possibility of being someone great in three years time (well not mindblowingly great, but yet, in three years, you’ll have a title, and also, a field of expertise which one will further build on in the future), and if you’re like me, who tends to freak out excessively at the introduction of new things before calming down for the duration, before freaking out at the end again, then it would still be pretty overwhelming.   Maybe for me right now, I’m still overwhelmed by the future, by my project, and that, in order to feel less overwhelmed, I overwork and research and try to fill the hole even though it’s only been one and a half months into the PhD program.  I think, what I really need is to sit back, take a deep breath and remember, I am not alone, I am only just beginning, and I can do this.  I also think, that I am trying too hard to think that ‘I am not good enough’ right now and trying to accommodate that by working ahead, but for this course, I don’t think there’s such things as being able to work ahead.  Research is constantly evolving and developing, and at best, I can only keep up.  What I shouldn’t do right now though, is lose focus.   If I concentrate on my topic, read about more literature and take deep breaths (aka, also known as taking a break), then the next three years will be both the most stressful thing in my life, but also, most likely, and hopefully, three years in which I can say I was really proud of myself.  And hopefully, remembering these things will help me defeat my temporary mental paralysis (which I’m hoping was only a one of thing, because even for me, I’ve never really had such a mental blank/fear before–exams, while always scary and tense, were things I was always prepared for.)

On another note, here’s the beautiful book I bought when I went out shopping yesterday:

I finally got my hands on the new Throne of Glass novel and I’m excited! Can’t wait to get the chance to read it!!!  (But it’s big, bigger than Heir of Fire, though not by much.)  Whoops, not exactly the best picture, but love the cover!

Whooops this wasn’t as short as I planned.  And also, next time I’ll add some more pictures! >.< so it isn’t a whole chunk of writing.

14 thoughts on “Paralysis. Thesis Diaries part 2?

  1. I just graduated in December. I hear you – keep pushing forward. Paralysis almost tied me up to the point that I was willing to give it up…luckily I had someone whack me upside the head (mentally) and get me moving again. One day slips into many very easily…15 min a day.

    • Congratulations for graduating! I need to find someone/make sure someone does that for me! It’s a little terrifying knowing that time can pass by really quickly even though, there’s still so much time to go!

      • Anytime! What is your program?

        I’ve now progressed to an official professor, so I’m learning that new page of my life. I took a break on Mims for a year to do it – not just the work and writing and being busy, but I think afraid to document the changes lol. 🙂

        Drop by anytime you need to – I’ll always put on my kicking boots. Or pass out advice.

        Good luck!

        • Thank you! 😀
          I’m in the linguistics and applied linguistics program at my uni. And wow, that’s awesome–being a professor, congrats!
          I will probably be venting out my frustrations every so often on my blog, for myself, and also to share the experience. Unfortunately, it also means I procrastinate a little (something I will definitely have to manage better in the future!)

    • *happy tears and hugs* Your virtual shoulder is very comfortable! There may be some long essay-like rants in the future lol about how much some things just suck!

        • YES you can come rant/vent at me too if you need to! Because you’re going to need heaps of shoulders and so am I! I’m here virtually and I always have time for venting ^^

            • Cookies. Don’t talk to me about cookies. I have no cookies T.T — choc chip, crap now I’m wanting them. But yes totally! I foresee a lot of painful tears of frustrations and book boyfriends. Ice cream for summer. Hot chocolate for winter. And coffee to stay awake!

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