So I’ve neglected this blog site something terrible, given that I initially aimed for weekly updates, but today I return for a bit of a rant/reflection on where I am right now.
So Year One of my PhD studies is complete but what does this really mean? Lots of reading, lots of talking, panicking, resolving, not so much writing…
It’s only now that I am realising the full extent of the naivety I had prior to commencing a full time research degree. Having completed undergraduate, postgraduate and masters education; at each stage concurrently doing a million and one things, placements, full time work, leading a large organisation, volunteering with many others, jet setting across Europe while always meeting deadlines, excelling in certain areas and overall coming out with great results, I thought this PhD malarkey would be a breeze. It hasn’t been.
I have had to completely transform myself, from a person of doing, under pressure, excitement, short deadlines, impassioned debate, balancing work-life-everything else. Into a full time researcher. Someone whose main job day-to-day is to read, think, critique, analyse and hopefully write some of that down in the end. I thought this would be an easy transition, that I would breeze through these three years, after all if I could do what I have done in the past with so many commitments, writing one hundred thousand words over THREE years, with a fraction of the commitments should be a walk in the park. It hasn’t been.
The transition is happening, but certainly hasn’t happened fully. Most days I awake with an extreme feeling of guilt, of pressure, of uncertainty. Have I made the right choice? Am I an imposter? I am a great nurse, isn’t this enough?
Today I put a meme of Dory onto my Facebook feed ‘Just keep swimming’, I now realise how ridiculous that choice was. I can’t swim! My fleeting moment of vulnerability on Facebook however did attract a stream of comments from friends and family reassuring me, that I can in fact do this (not the swimming, the researching).
I came into this programme with one aim, to make a difference, however small, to do something which will in some way make a difference (that and the academic robes at graduation). I am an activist, in all that I do. Whether it be walking into an ICU cubicle to nurse a critically ill person, helping to empower young people to self realise and change society, shout from the highest platform I can to ensure my rights are realised and that others have the opportunity realise their own rights, I see this as activism and I am an activist. Academia offers me an opportunity for a new type of activism, I was reminded of this when I revisited my research and found this quote today:
‘it’s not that they’re (clinic staff) homophobic, I can deal with homophobia, I’ve done it all my life. It’s that when I talk about being gay I feel weird, even if I just say I don’t have a girlfriend I have a boyfriend, they don’t know how to react. They fuss, they look confused, the apologise, I don’t fit into their flow chart. That’s what pisses me off’
I am doing a PhD to join with the (few) other academics and activists who are trying to challenge a healthcare system where Queer people feel left out, excluded, unequal, weird.
I am so privileged to have this opportunity. My University invests in me, pays me (though perhaps a little more would help) to challenge this system. I am privileged to have the support I have, a wonderful supervisor who encourages me at every step, keeps me on track and reminds me where I am going. A wonderful partner, the most intelligent person I know, who tells me every day that he believes in me, literally hundreds of friends and family, again encouraging me to be the best I can be.
I’m not there yet but I will make this transition. I am not an imposter. I am meant to be here, doing this, right now, making a difference!
Now back to reading….