I’ve been feeling a bit… well, meh lately. D keeps insisting I haven’t properly taken any days off since handing in the thesis (he’s right, of course, but I don’t just want to stay home and watch TV. If I’m going to have a break, I want a proper break – a go lay on the beach and read a book break. And September in Dunedin just isn’t quite warm enough for that). I’m trying my best to catch up with the world again (socially and otherwise) but sadly, ultimately, I actually feel more isolated now than I ever did working on my thesis… I’m afraid I might be feeling the post PhD letdown. Yes, this is actually a thing.
Every PhD student denies that they will ever feel sad when it’s over but you really can’t help it. Doing a PhD is incredibly isolating. You spend hours alone at your desk or in a lab, late at night, every weekend. All the time. Especially at the end, when you can no longer attend social events, keep in contact with friends or family, which is compounded if you are studying overseas – which many PhD candidates are. I’m not alone in feeling this anxiety. Once you submit your thesis, you are suddenly in no man’s land. You’re no longer enrolled so you’re not technically even a student. You’re just waiting around for your results to come back. You’re probably nearly broke (thank goodness Otago gives most students a publishing bursary! But still, that only gets me through October. If I haven’t gotten a job lined up by then, I will really start to become worried). You’re probably unemployed. You’re trying to find some sort of job (better yet, career) and the not knowing what your future holds is terribly frustrating as you can’t really make plans (being the planner that I am… you can imagine how well this is going for me).
I feel like this:
Ah! What is this big wide world? Why have I left my cozy isolated shell? What’s going on? [I’m loving this analogy because in terms of academia, a PhD is only the beginning. You really are just a little fledgling researcher].
It’s just one of those things about research that no one tells you, and you have to experience first hand. So I’m going to distract myself from the fact that I have no idea what is going on in any of my friends or families lives apart from what is posted on facebook by trying to remember how to sew, and cleaning out my closet (note that I’m avoiding cleaning my desk which is still covered in towers of papers and drafts and books and coffee mugs). Or at least, I’m trying to convince myself to remember how to sew. It can’t be that hard, can it?