This week, I am mostly struggling. There, I said it. I’m having a difficult week. Work is going badly, I feel like I’m drowning, and I’d quite like a little tiny break.
Now, I expect this is normal in the PhD process, particularly in the final year bit of it. I’m trying to make a happy and beautiful conclusion to what I’ve spent the past two and a half years doing, and it’s as complex as I always suspected it might be. But I wouldn’t feel like this, I don’t think, if I only had endless days in which to think and write.
But this particular PhD life has too many other things to fill the thinking space – this week, I’m marking for the first time ever, I’m preparing for a seminar in which I’m teaching on a subject of which I have NO KNOWLEDGE, I’m seeing friends who have need of a shoulder on which to cry, and I’m trying to keep all my children’s activities under control despite my worsening memory. Add to this the fact that my husband’s away for three days from Friday, so my weekend will be spent running round most of Nottinghamshire after said children, and the result is a BIG BAG OF STRESS!
So what am I doing to help myself out of this mess? Well, firstly, I’m giving myself small tasks every day in the hope that it will stop me from fretting about the MASSIVE job of writing a thesis. Today, for example, I’m planning to mark some essays and write something about interdisciplinary research – well, I was, until it took me three hours to get to university. A little bit more stress, there, on the blessed A46.
The main thing I’m doing, though, is I’m trying to make sure my soul gets fed, as this is the key to my sense of creativity and calm. I have a new album to listen to, by a band I love, and I’m finishing a blanket for Arthurina the small elephant (not mine, my daughter’s!) in the evenings. But the biggest thing I’ve done involves taking myself away from the chaos and finding a few days to spend in my spiritual home, Northumberland.
Yes, I’ve finally done it. I booked a five-day stay in Alnmouth at the end of March, when I will have only myself and some words to worry about. Can you guess, I’m counting the days? No, the hours, actually. Not that I don’t generally love my life, but just at the moment IT’S WAY TOO BUSY!! So I’m hoping that a few days of feeding my soul will propel me optimistically into the final stage of this process, and will help me get life back into proportion.
This post was originally published on the PhD Life blog in 2012.
Photo Credit: Michael Stern/Creative Commons