This time will DEFINITELY be short!
I have really only one thing to say. Being around 3 months into my PhD, I have learnt (though I already knew, seeing as I can’t help but think about things in the long term) that when it comes to your Doctor of Philosophy, and to all the years you’ll spend doing it, the most important thing is this: Passion. You have to love what you want to do, have to want to study it immensely, have to have the desire to make a change about something (even if it’s really small, that’s fine! Just don’t think about a Nobel Prize just yet–you’re not ready, or that might be too big a goal if you’re just starting out), and most of all, you absolutely cannot think ‘This sucks. This is boring. It’s so bloody dry. I hate this.’
There are a lot of pressures of life, I’m beginning to notice that will make one think about the ‘job opportunities’ that lay at the other end of the continuum–things like financial situation, peer and parental pressure, reality. Those sorts of things. But while, I can’t really say so myself, not really, since I haven’t yet passed all my lifetime milestones, I do want to say this. I want to be able to say next year, or the year after, or the year after that, that I love what I’m doing. I want to be able to light up, have sparkles in my eyes, and good hair, when I say ‘I have no regrets’ with the choice I made–one that, in the beginning, may not have been very practical at all. Yet it’s the fact that there was Passion that makes me light up like that.
Even though it’s hard, and sometimes inconceivable, I want to be able to make choices in the future that aren’t half-heartedly, that are full of careful thought and reckless yet passionate choices. It’ll be hard. But before I even began my PhD, I never wanted to not do it. Even if I faltered half a dozen times and had to endure a long and agonising wait for my application to be processed.
In the end though–particularly today as I sat with my Supervisors in our almost monthly meetings, I could feel it in the air. I just couldn’t shut up about what I felt and thought even though my brain kept telling my mouth ‘you’re boring people!’ It just kept flowing out of me, what I loved and what I found so far. And I knew in that moment, I didn’t want to be studying any other topic. This topic is mine. I thought it up. I picked the area. And though it might seem like an English Literature research, I will definitely make it Linguistics. This topic is mine. And I will make it significant in the future, even though I am soooooooo daunted right now, I’m a bit scared I might wet my pants, and I have never done that ever.
So. (And crap, because bloody hell, this was longer than I had planned!) Passion. Find a topic you’re really passionate about when it comes to postgraduate studies, don’t just pick from a list–unless you’re someone who grows into the topic and becomes passionate later on–it’ll just kill you over the two (masters/depends on the masters course) or three (or four or more depending on the PhD course). Pick something you’ll love–it’ll define you later. And you don’t want to hate it, right?