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Mindset of working with a boss/supervisor

Hi anne_with_an_e
Congratulations on submitting, and best of luck for your award decision! This is extra specially impressive by the sounds of your supervisory situation, and given that you were volunteering in a harsh work environment at the same time, so I think you should be very proud to have overcome that to complete a whole PhD. 2/2 bad relationships with managers really sucks, but bear in mind it's only 2! Try to remember that, in addition to leadership positions being somewhat enriched for narcissists and sociopaths, academia and charity are 2 somewhat unorthodox sectors where bad leadership can often go unpunished because of the extra prestige politics. It's easy to over-analyse your own possible role in a bad relationship, especially as a courteous and thoughtful person, but remember that the rest of your volunteer team thought your boss was a nightmare too! I would recommend working on your boundaries: I have a difficult supervisory relationship (though not abusive), and my dad's advice was always to ask myself "what's in it for me?" Moving forwards in work remember that not only are you providing something for a company as an employee, but the job is supposed to enrich your life also (even just financially). It sounds like you try to be reasonable with superiors, so be clear with yourself what you're willing to give, in that sense, and what treatment you expect in return. If you feel you need professional support to rebuild confidence then don't hesitate to seek it out, but otherwise just allow the people in your life (even fellow forum users!) to remind you that you are about to get a doctorate against some steep odds, and for that and probably many other reasons you deserve respect from yourself and your bosses! Have faith!

Imposter syndrome or am I just...not cut out for this?

Hi BrightonBound
I'm not in the humanities, but to be honest it sounds like you're just the type for a PhD! It seems like yoy have genuine drive and interest in a specific area, which are the only "mandatory requirements" for such a project. Any other demands placed upon you are likely to be particular to your supervisor, so I would advise you to be as candid as possible during applications and interviews (don't say or promise things because you think they want to hear it). Be honest about your condition and how it affects your work, and be ready to collaborate with your supervisory team on adjusting things for you, but this is definitely something a good supervisor should be willing to help you with. Academic writing comes in waves, even for neurotypicals, so if it isnt coming easy at the moment dont panic! Give yourself some credit for how far you've come, and push for restarting your coping mechanisms. You can do this!

Another form of imposter syndrome?

Hi all, thanks for stopping by.

I just started the 3rd year of my PhD and have found myself googling "how obsessed should I be with my PhD?" and not at all reassured by the swathes of "try not to overwork yourself!" advice because I feel I have the opposite problem: a pretty deep apathy for my project and situation in general. I make the mistake of comparing myself to my partner (who just graduated from an absolute home-run of a PhD) and my flatmate (who has a slave-driver of a supervisor and is a hopeless workaholic), but I am really unsure about when my behaviour/attitude crosses the line into problem territory.

I’ve passed 2 annual reviews and my committee feel I'm making adequate progress, even though I’m antsy about the amount of data I've gathered to date. I haven't published anything and am not close to it. I feel a huge amount of anxiety owning up to this publicly, but I don't spend 40 hours a week on my PhD and I have developed multiple time-consuming hobbies on the side in addition to maintaining a long-distance relationship. This feels very wrong, and I don't know of anyone else who is underworked in their PhD.

When I started I was totally prepared to invest myself wholly into this project, but the attitude in the group really threw me. My research topic is unique in the group and outside of the favourite topic area of my primary supervisor, and no-one around me knows or cares to learn about what I'm doing and can't help when I ask. Most of the directive advice I've been given is to do less, reign in my expectations, narrow my plans. My secondary supervisor is very knowledgeable but a bit of a doormat and fears "stepping on toes". During the first lockdown in the UK I asked my primary supervisor for more things to do and was essentially given busywork that probably won't make it into my thesis. I have no interim goals besides annual reviews (no lit reviews, no publications, no conferences). When I take plans into my own hands and ask questions like "who would be able to help me with this?" my primary has (on more than one occasion) actively not directed me to other people who would be useful. I get the feeling this is either a personality clash or they are actively trying to keep me from moving outside their sphere of influence. To top it all off they recently took a new job in Europe and have left my University, so they supervise me remotely while setting up their fancy new lab.

I feel totally under-utilised and stifled, and no-one is excited about my project including me. I'm afraid that if I tell my supervisor that that it will reflect badly on me. Am I a slacker unworthy of my funding? Is my primary a tyrant trying to make me fail? Am I just being impatient with a totally normal situation? Any advice appreciated!