Hi all,

Although so far I am really enjoying my PhD (9 months into it) and still motivated in the subject, I often feel lonely in my subject and sometimes feel like a bit of a loser. I didn't feel this way whilst I was working for a company, I think maybe because in industry you need to put up more of a front (show confidence), etc where in academia you are more free in that respect. Does anyone have similar feelings during there PhD?

Thanks in advanced



I can totally relate to you on that.

Before I started my PhD I was pretty much super confident. About 6 months in my confidence had fallen away and I felt continuous self doubt. I think it is pretty normal to feel 'different' as a PhD student. You are working on something so individual and working alone most of the time. People who don't do PhD generally don't understand the emotional or practical side of it. So it's no wonder it feels lonely sometimes.

For me, looking at it positively doing the PhD has forced me to think critically about myself and how I do things. At times this has been really painful, but I think it is valuable self development I would not have had in a 'normal' job. Although I still have low days, I can feel my confidence coming back now.

One thing I have found helpful dealing with the lonliness aspect is to socialise with people at least once a week outside of the PhD/uni life. I am in a running club and just going along there and talking about things that are not PhD related and having a good hard work out at the same time really helps.

Posting here is also very helpful to gain perspective and some relief that these feelings are normal!

Best wishes


I felt like a bit of a fraud in my PhD, doubting myself constantly, right up until shortly before I submitted! And that was a very long time because I was a part-time/half-time student, so 6 years of feeling like that. Just keep going. Have faith you'll get there. And good luck!


Hey there

I also think that confidence comes from being in a workplace, knowing the job, knowing you can do it and getting lots of positive reinforcement as well as working with people, hopefully in a good environment. A PhD doesn't have that - we're all starting again, from scratch, we don't know what we're doing, and it's also very isolating. Doing a PhD makes people doubt themselves - I think it's an inevitable part of the process. I don't know it confidence comes back - I'd like to think it does, once we finish, but am not sure. It's all a learning process. Trust that you can do this.

There's also an element of bluff and faking confidence involved, which I do whenever I have to give a conference paper for example. So - also pretend until you do feel confident!


Well at least you're still liking it! I'm nine months in and wondering what the hell I'm doing here! I think one of the problems if you'd had a previous existence (I worked for a long time in a high powered job before coming back to academia) is exactly that you do 'keep up a front' - you have to and you just get on with the job - but academia can be a pretty lonely existence. I don't really like talking to that many colleagues as I have found in the past I ended up as the 'oracle' due to life experience so it's energy-sapping. If any has an answer count me as on the list to hear it!


Hi Everyone, Thank-you very much for your responses, I feel like there are others who understand this and feel similar feelings. Especially those who have had industrial/company experience and come back into academia. Thanks again and all the best everyone.