A long time coming

Crikey, it’s somehow been 8 months since my last post on There’s A Spider. So much for making it a regular blog… whoops!

Since I handed in my thesis at the end of October last year, a lot has gone on. I got a full-time (non-academic) job, I had my viva, and I’m still wading through my thesis amends because, frankly, it’s really hard doing it alongside a full-time job.

I also now run a new blog, Clutter, with ErrantScience. It’s about science and scientists and the stories we have to tell. I post there every month, and we also have guest posts once a month. So a lot of my ranting has been happening over there since we started up in March of this year.

I guess the biggest thing PhD-wise was my viva. I wrote about my viva there for my first post. I’m still not sure I’m over it. I know that my viva was not the worst there’s ever been, but I found it really tough. The fact that I’d got a job pretty much straight after handing in meant I wasn’t immersed in the subject every day, and viva prep is inherently quite tricky – it’s difficult to judge what your examiners will pick up on, no matter how much research you do on them.

It was 4ish hours long, I got asked some stuff I could respond to sensibly, and some stuff completely threw me. In short, it did absolutely nothing to help my crippling imposter syndrome, and the congratulations that lovely people sent my way once I announced that somehow I hadn’t failed only exacerbated that feeling. People still call me Doctor now – I have to correct them every time, that I won’t be a Doctor until my amends are handed in and approved, and saying that feels both honest and shameful at the same time – surely I should have succeeded by now?

My thesis amends, a big bunch of to-dos.

Mostly the last few months have been spent adjusting to a ‘normal’ life with job with normal working hours and doing normal life things like seeing friends and going on holiday (which I have spectacularly failed at this year), and fitting the work on my thesis around that, and also failing somewhat at doing that effectively. And then just as I had a lot of time set aside for thesis work, Life of course rears its ugly head in the form of a close relative getting seriously ill, meaning lots of travel to my hometown and generally not being in the mood to care or read or write about spiders (sorry, spiders).

And last weekend, with a free weekend to myself for the first time in months, with all the intention of finally spending a good chunk of time on my thesis, what happens but a mild head cold appears. Not serious, nothing more than a minor annoyance, but with it taking away all desire other than to slob on the sofa. This post (and all the housework I did) is my way of trying to lift the ever-present guilt of not working on my thesis.

Working through that guilt and the constant low-level anxiety is something I hope to describe and explore here over the coming months until this weighty thesis is gone from my life. I can’t promise regular posts, but I can promise honesty in describing this process, and I only hope that those in a similar PhD-Doctor-Limbo situation might find some comfort.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing what I, and some of my fellow scientists have been ranting about, go read some of the posts on Clutter. Oh – and there’s lots of spider cartoons from the wonderful @MCeeP. Enjoy.



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