I am new here and am six weeks into beginning my PhD studies here at a uni in Brisbane. I am feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. I am meeting with my supervisors every fortnight up until confirmation and when I had my last meeting with them, I got told that I need to contribute ideas to our discussions and I need to be recommending books/journal articles to them to read already....I thought this is something that you should be able to do towards the end of your PhD when you are the 'expert' in your field? I am honestly worried about my next meeting with them, which is this week. I sat in my car and just cried after the last meeting. I just feel so dumb and feel like I shouldn't be here. I am so exhausted, nothing I am doing at the moment seems to be right and imposter syndrome is hitting me big time. I also suffer from depression and anxiety and these are both flaring up big time at the moment.
I am so sorry about the ranting, but I just feel really alone at the moment and need to know whether what I am experiencing is 'normal' and any advice/suggestions from other PhD students who are further along.
Don't panic. I had a similar experience at the beginning of my PhD - one of my SPs said that I need to be more independent and "take a more active" role in discussions.
I assume you are reading at the moment to figure out your research question? All they mean (I think) is that if you find something that looks really interesting or relevant then you should send across a short email just saying "i found this interesting because X"....
nothing too complicated, just a sentence :)
I found this really hard at first. I think its just that they want proactive students rather than student students if that makes any sense at all (it's first thing on a Monday morning!), students who take more of a lead in their learning as, after all, it is YOUR PhD :) This should grow as your confidence in dealing with them grows, but I would be very surprised if most PhD students haven't had at least one experience like this.
A big part of it is not really thinking about whether something sounds stupid or not. If you have an idea you think is good, put it to them. The worst they can do is disagree or argue a different point of view. I learned not to worry about appearing to be stupid - getting questions and ideas out in the early part of my PhD was a learning experience as they picked up on quite a few misconceptions, etc.
Here's a brill article that I love that does a much better job of detailing the importance of "stupidity":
I hope some of this made some sense - I haven't even had a cup of tea yet. Just wanted to let you know that you are definitely not the only PhD student to have had this kind of thing happen.
Hi, try not too worry, I think everyone has a tough time to start with. I certainly did and still have days where I feel utterly stupid (I'm 6 months in).
I think there's a few things you can do... Talk about what you've been reading in your meetings and hopefully suggest ways it might help your research. An example from a meeting I had was having read about different qualitative methods I was able to say which ones I thought might be most appropriate for my project. I know when I do this, it really helps with my confidence
Or, maybe it's a simple as saying I've started reading about this, I think it might be useful to consider for my project and I'm going to spend some time finding out a bit more about it. If you're well off, they might steer you away from it, or it might be that at the next meeting you say you looked into it and actually it's not appropriate etc.
Kenzie's suggestion about sending short emails is a good one. Set up some journal alerts and look at the recommendations for your searches, that gives you the chance to spot new papers that may be relevant to your research and forward them onto them. I always like doing this because one of my supervisors is great at it (I just got one!) so I like to try and beat her to it :-)
I don't think they're expecting you to have all the answers at this stage, they just want to know you're thinking about your research question (or potential research questions) and if you need to (like me) looking into the new research methods you'll be using).
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