As I browse through my past blog posts, one sentence strikes me as particularly amusing (from the post ‘1 year doing a PhD – things are starting to happen!‘ )
“I’m close to submitting the 3rd…milestone…– it’s time for the pace to pick up!”
Well here I am 8 months later and it certainly doesn’t feel like any pace has picked up!
The Phd roller coaster ride
I like to think that the point at which I wrote that post I was teetering on the highest point of the roller coaster tracks, having trudged up the hill, slowly and laboriously, almost to the point of completing my research proposal. The view was amazing – data collection, research findings, publications and presentations were all on the horizon.
Then I submitted!
The thrill of throttling through the air down the track, celebrating my achievement was fantastic.
Of course, this isn’t a ride with just one drop, loop or turn. The view I had focused on was further in the distance than I realised – there were a few more twists, turns and a big hill to climb before I reached that bit of the track!
So, here you find me, chugging up to the next summit, waiting for the thrill of receiving ethical approval and starting my data collection. Don’t worry, I’m not deceiving myself, I’m a long way from the end and no worthwhile roller coaster provides a smooth ride for long!
The twists and loops
Before I put anyone off the idea of doing a PhD… the last 8 months haven’t just been one long climb.
The ethics process has, for me, involved more than one set of approvals. Every submission and amendment is like chugging up a section, hurtling along the track, suddenly being jerked round a corner, thrown into a twist, or tipped upside down! One moment there is elation at a submission or an approval, but the next brings challenges; amendments are required or, most frustrating of all, you have to sit and wait, with no control over what comes next.
During these times, there are, at least, smaller summits and dips to keep the ride fun!
I was excited to have a poster in the exhibition of the UK Dementia Congress at the beginning of November; at the moment I’m back to literature reviewing, in view of publishing a paper; I am involved in teaching on the MSc in Fundamentals of Complex Care for Older People at University of Southampton.
So don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad!
The end of the line… and some advice
So far in the PhD roller coaster ride almost every turn has been unknown, I’ve been thrown around, and sometimes it feels like I’m going to fall out – but I’m still here, and loving the ride (most of the time anyway!)
Here’s a bit of advice – as much for myself as anyone else on this journey (or considering embarking!):
Don’t let go!
Through all of the twists and turns, hold tight, and keep the end goal in mind. Don’t give up!
Make the most of the summits
Enjoy the excitement of every descent! Be sure to celebrate every small achievement!
Enjoy the view
When chugging up those hills, and teetering at the top, keep your eyes on what’s ahead, the next bit will be great – even if it’s scary!
It may seem long but we all know rides end way too soon…
…and what do we do when it’s over?
We go straight in the queue to start the next ride!