It’s easy to think about the best moments in your PhD, the joyful occasions. It’s so much fun to be a scientist when experiments show positive results. But what about those bad days?
PhDs are hard. Anyone saying their job in academia isn’t that hard is either lying, cheating or has forgotten and removed unpleasant days, much like what happens with the hormones that trick you into forgetting how painful giving birth is.
PhDs are meant to test you in all kinds of ways, put you out of your comfort zone, make you doubt yourself, challenge your intelligence and your convictions; a PhD should prepare you to face a fiercely competitive world where you’re going to be on your own. It’s a line of work that sustains itself on passion mostly -you don’t go into academia for glory or money, to my knowledge.
Research will require you to repeat some actions, experiments, studies and concepts several times. So many times, that it may get boring, difficult, exasperating, frustrating, annoying or stressing depending on your approach to life. In the long term particularly, this can bring out the worst in each one of us, make us tired and intolerant.
And in an environment where competition is inevitable sooner or later, it is often tempting to give in and be less.
You wake up each morning to be a researcher, a supervisor, both or something else entirely. You want to give your best each day: excel at your job, show determination, skills, work hard. But as you wish to be the accomplishing machine that will get you closer to advancing human knowledge, don’t forget! You’re also human.
So when it gets hard, when you’re frustrated and tired. When you think that you deserve a break from the hardships, and that you’re entitled to feel a little selfish. Remember, that’s the moment that you need the most to be human. To be the best version of yourself, to show kindness and openness to your colleagues, students, humans and animals working with you for a common goal – advancing science.