PhD Self-Care Project: Valuing Support

‘A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, because someone else thought they could.’

I’ve heard it said before that a PhD degree is less about how smart you are and more about how stubborn and persevering you are. One moment you’re celebrating the successes of a well-delivered conference presentation, and the next minute you’re hurting from another rejection you’ve received from a journal editor. The PhD rollercoaster ride is real! At many points in time, you feel like you’re the only one on the ride. The fact is, you’re not.

I had a really encouraging talk with my supervisor recently. In addition to the usual PhD challenges and life’s unexpected curveballs, I reached out to her about the changing circumstances in my personal life. Instead of judgment or questioning, my news to her was met with amazing encouragement. What’s more is that she expressed how she went on the same little detour during her Honours and her PhD. She shared with me a bit about her story and how she succeeded despite the many challenges along the way. It was very comforting to hear that it can be done, and be done well. I didn’t feel so alone and terrified after that. Undoubtedly it would be very difficult, but it was certainly not a reason to lose sight of the goal, a goal which is very attainable.

There are many hurdles along the PhD journey, which is why it is important to remain connected with your peers and other support people. Supervisors mostly are there to guide you with your academic work. It is the special rare ones who are also able to offer you that same guiding hand when all you need is someone to believe in you.

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