The other day, I had a sudden vision. It was a glimpse into a possible future, a post-PhD future. It wasn’t anything spiritual or profound, it was simply this: What if, one day, I could use my laptop for GAMES *sharp intakes of breath* or SHOPPING *hands clap over mouths* or even for PLANNING A HOLIDAY *loud tutting*?
Of course, I do some of these things now (a holiday ain’t happening for a while), but not without feeling a crushing amount of guilt. If I’m on my computer, I SHOULD BE WORKING ON MY THESIS. How dare I use it for leisure activities?
[This ties in nicely with the misconception that all PhD students should be working 24/7. It’s *not* doable. We shouldn’t be pressured into feeling this, but we all are. This is a rant for another time.]
In my shimmering, Heavenly vision, I was sitting at my desk in my study at home, where I frequently work these days. I was playing games on my laptop. I was happy and guilt-free. Perhaps I’d just come in from a long day at work and was just unwinding. I might even play a bit longer than I’d intended to, and not worry that I’d used up my self-allocated 10 minute break and had to get back to work.
I’ve had similar thoughts about spiders. Now my data collection is over, I no longer get excited when I see spiders living it up in my bath or dashing across the grass in front of me. Their presence just reminds me that I have a bloody long document to write about them. Maybe, one day, I’ll be able to see a little spider crawl innocently across the wall and squeeeeee! in delight like I used to, without feeling intense guilt.
And maybe, one day, I’ll come home from work, not even go into the study. I’ll just sit down in front of the telly. And I won’t feel bad about it.
So this is a call out to my fellow PhD students. Stay strong. For one day, this crazy, impossible dream, this unreachable vision, may actually become your reality.