I'd really like your moral support

Avatar for Eska

Good morning all you beautiful people,

I'm feeling pretty low this morning and have even semi-entertained thoughts of quiting my PhD, the big obstacle in the way of my doing this is that my life would be a billion time worse without it.

I'm just feeling that I'm slogging my guts out and making financial and other sacrifices left right and centre and I'm not getting anywhere. I had a job interview at the uni at which I am doing the PhD (part-time) yesterday and didn't get the job. I also had an appointment with my supervisor at which I brought up the subject of my upgrade and he explained that because part - time PhDs at my uni have to take 6 years to complete and the upgrade happens midway, I won't officially be going forward for mine until May 2011, yes, that's right, May 2011, by which time everyone else on the planet will have published ten books and retired. Although, he did say it would be possible to bring it forward to Novemeber/December 2010, he didn't seem to think I was at that stage yet, and he said things like because you're part - time things take a long time, because you are working etc, etc. But the thing is I work only a few more hours than a full timer I know and she's looking at a three year complete, so I'm feeling really deflated, I thought my work was going well, but, maybe not. My sup also said of the upgrade 'and that's when we'll see and if there are problems we'll...' and didn't finish the sentence. Does ths mean he thinks I'm on my way out? Does he think I can't do this? I dunno, I'm just feeling like I'm strugglig 'up the hill backwards' as Mr. Bowie would say and not getting anywhere. To think I could be going through all this and then come out of it without even an upgrade...

What's really frustrating me is that I know I have it in me, I feel strongly that I am good at this, and that my work has a lot to offer, but I'm loosing confidence in what other, important people think if me, like my supervisor, for example.

The other thing is I want to move cities- either to the one I work at or the one where I study, but I'm worried that my job[s] at the former won't last past next term and I could be left in said city with no purpose for being their come this summer, so I'm a bit all over the place with that too. Plus the family hell.

I thought your feedback and support would probably help me X

Avatar for sneaks

Cheer up Eska! Now I think what's going on here is the Xmas blues - its nearly Xmas, it should all be bridget jones like with snow and shopping but you are stuck away from your family in some dodgy city.

I don't think you should worry about the upgrade - we have been discussing this on my accountability thread - and neither Teek or me have upgraded. I am a full timer in my third year. However, I have never really seen it as an obstacle. I'll probably end up doing it a week before my viva! You can go ahead and publish without the upgrade - and if you do it will essentially gurantee your upgrade anyway.

I think you are feeling a bit down and morphing the memory of your sups words into something they weren't.

Have half a day to 'time out' and then come back with some positive goals about what you want to do - when YOU want to upgrade and how you are going to go about doing that. What kind of outputs does your supervisor want? etc etc.

Avatar for sneaks

Here is an Xmas present from me to cheer you up Eska! (gift)

Avatar for Eska

Thank you Sneaks, that could be very accurate. And, yes, I am sitting on the sofa in my fleecey, patterned pyjamas; however, I am not yet pissed or singing 'all by myself' - maybe later.


Hi Eska,
I hope that you're okay. Don't worry, it's just a crisis of confidence because you've had some frustrating news, and I'm sure your despondency won't last.
I can entirely relate to your concerns that your supervisor doesn't have complete faith in you, as I had a very negative MA supervisor and got obsessed with the fact that he thought I was useless. At the end of the day you know you're capable and that you have a lot to offer, so do not concern yourself with worries that other people might not be so sure. At the end of the day it's you who has to do it, not them, and it's you who has to believe in yourself. Your supervisor's unhelpfulness was probably completely inadvertent and they most likely did not realise that all you needed was a bit of positive reinforcement. Had you got that, you would probably be feeling okay about the other stuff, even though your situation wouldn't be any different. Does that make sense? What I'm saying is that when all these things seem to come at once, it's easy to despair and feel deflated.  There are always going to be ups and downs, points where everything is going brilliantly, and times when it is all shit. Take it all as it comes and you'll feel much better soon. In the mean time, I recommend Mince Pies and Christmas music. M,x


Sorry you're having such a rubbish day Eska, is the world a bit like a pile of mouldy (sprout) 's just now?
(sorry, couldn't resist the new icons)

I agree with sneaks, don't over-analyse what your sup said, half the time these people are just waffling without intent. Is there anyone else who could give you an objective view of your progress? It seems unfair that they should automatically assume you'll need six years (I know plenty of full timers doing half time hours). And as cheesy as it sounds, I really think you should believe in yourself here! My sups really don't know how far along I am or how well I'm doing and I've realised in third year that the only person who can really judge my progress is me. I think we all suffer from fairly crippling self doubt in the phd process, don't let it consume you.

As far as living arrangements go, I take it you can't wait until the job stuff is more certain before moving? Just wondering if you have enough to contend with right now without throwing that into the mix :s

And if all I've written is a pile of useless tosh (entirely likely), know that you have my support and well wishes.

Avatar for Eska

Hi Maria, thank youfor that. Yeah, my supervisor did say early on that the tends to give feedback assuming that most of the positive things go without saying - he sort of warned me about it, and I'm usually ok with that because I know he's trying to squeeze the most out of me in the time we have. He's really pleased with my book chapter proposal, so he can't think I'm that crap. I just seem to be having a funny time at mo, probably the family stuff has much to do with it too. I'd swear a member of the faculty was hinting at an extra - marital liaison with me yesterday (his marital) in way that made me think he does it a lot, and that made me feel a bit crappy and uncomfortable too, bllleeeeeeuuuuurrrrggghhh.

Avatar for Eska

P.s. Thanks for the cabbage Teek; I gave you a star as a reward for your lovely advice. I tried to do the same for Maria and Sneaks, but I've already starred them ages ago. Hopefully they haven't been too tainted by our greedy, ruthless pursuits of them and it still has meaning for you.

I think the 6 year thing has to do with fees, so itworks out the same price to do it full or part - time. I could go FT for the last year or two I suppose. OOOps, I'm in danger of cheering up and being posititve here, that shouldn't happen until this afternoon.

Does anyone remember Marvin, the depressed robot from Hitch Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy? Well that's me this morning - I have 25 minutes left. (turkey) yes, it's all a turkey today...


Ah, thanks Eska (soon I shall enter the vip lounge, soooooooooon).

I'm glad you're feeling a bit better. From everything you wrote in follow-up about the book chapter and your sups general approach, it really does sounds as if you're doing well despite his recent offhand remarks, I think you should have a tree to celebrate! (tree)

Shame about that lecherous member of your dept though, bleurgh indeed!


(gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift)
(tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree)
(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin) BE HAPPY ESKA!!!! AND MERRY XMAS!!! (robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)
(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin) Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! (robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)(robin)
(tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree) (tree)
(gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift) (gift)

There we go, just decorated you thread for you to help cheer you up! Be happy soon Eska! :-)


I am so sorry! It looks like one of those old smelly christmas cards you get from Great Great Aunty Betty! It took me ages to do that too...

Avatar for sneaks

it does look a bit cross stitch. But I'm sure that's coming back in in a kinda retro way 8-)


Aww eska, i hope your mood is still onthe up, its crappy when you get days like this. As others have said, try not to let your supervisor get to you, my main supervisor hardly ever talks to me, even when he does his rounds of the office talking to all his students before he leaves to go somewhere, made me feel really crap until i realised that everyone else seems to stay out of his way and he doesnt come to me cos he's already happy enough with what im doing...other supervisor fills our meeting with allusions to how crap i am and my work is, but after 2 years im learning to ignore him :) just remember that ur fab and if anyone is doesnt see that then they just done know u well enough yet!
As for the to move or not to move situation, dont make any decisions until you are in a better frame of mind, and as for family.....good god but they are a nightmare sometimes. I'm having some family issues today that have thrown me right off track, but lots of deep breathing has saved me from breaking things! good luck for the rest of ur day, just concentrate on one thing at a time...and stick on some christmas music! or watch elf, what a brilliant movie!! (tree)


Hey Eska! It sounds as though it is the conversation with your supervisor that has brought this feeling about. Perhaps you are doing what I like to do....I systematically filter out everything positive that my supervisor has to say (and she usually is very positive) and I dwell on lots of 'negative' things, that in reality probably aren't even that negative. I love to sit down and have a good few days of 'interpreting' all of these things and deciding that I am inadequate in some way. I put a lot of emphasis on what my supervisor says, and if she is any less than praiseworthy about what I have done, I worry that she thinks badly of me and that whatever I have done is rubbish. Usually this turns out not to be the case...like us, supervisors have happy days, miserable days, pissed off days, and days where they just have a little less enthusiasm than normal, without realising that we hang onto every word they say. Normally, for me it helps to ask a bit more specifically about what the problem might be, so that I know where I have gone wrong, or gone not quite right(!), so I can set about doing something better and then move on. My supervisor has picked up on my trait of disregarding all positive feedback now and likes to tease me about only picking up on the bad stuff, so we actually have a bit of a laugh about it. Of course, I don't know that this is where your feelings are stemming from, I am just speculating on the possibilities!

Personally I would email your sup and just ask for some more feedback- what do you need to have done by your upgrade, can he see any problems with your work at the moment etc. Then you can act on these if necessary and this will hopefully boost your confidence a bit! I hope you're feeling a bit better now anyway, go and have a cookie! Cookies cheer me up. Except that now my foot is in plaster and I can't exercise I am likely to be very fat in two months time. I should probably eat fewer cookies :-(


Right, time to be serious with one of my posts now.

Dear Eska,

It's crap when you feel down about your PhD - I've been there and am regularly there. It's harder for you than me because you're part time, which requires far better time management than full time, and you also have to work to support yourself. I'm going to call us even on the crap family side of things, though at least your cousin doesn't watch CSI and Rambo 2 at 5 am in the morning directly below you - those bloody rocket firing helicopters make a racket and Stallone and his slurring doesn't help.
Now, you can't compare yourself to the full timer who's on a three year complete because you're on a part-time PhD programme, so even though you may have only a few hours more employment than her the plan of your PhD is completely different. And I'm sorry, I'm going to say this cos it's true, some people are just damn lucky and end up doing PhDs that are sightly less demanding and time consuming than others, easier in a way - it's the luck of the draw.

"My sup also said of the upgrade 'and that's when we'll see and if there are problems we'll...' and didn't finish the sentence. Does ths mean he thinks I'm on my way out? Does he think I can't do this? I dunno, I'm just feeling like I'm strugglig 'up the hill backwards' as Mr. Bowie would say and not getting anywhere. To think I could be going through all this and then come out of it without even an upgrade..."

Please don't deduce from this that you're going to fail your upgrade - certainly don't feel deflated. Supervisors say things like this all the time (mine does); it has no reflection on the quality of your work. Didn't I read on a previous post of yours that someone notable really liked the quality and content of something you wrote? Ergo, you are undoubtedly good at what you do and write. Remember also why you're doing the PhD - for the passion, challenge and change in career direction. You're supervisor didn't finish the sentence because he thought 'uh oh, I'm chatting pointless, unnerving crap'. I've done my upgrade and they can be horrible (I was mentally abused and beaten black and blue (to the extent that I wanted to physically beat them black and blue), but they were impressed and I passed. I really didn't have much to show them at that point either.
As for moving nearer to the place where you do your PhD? It would certainly have it's advantages if you could get some employment to fit around you PhD and support yourself. You'd be closer to your work, in a weird way, as you'd be closer to the university - if you catch my drift. But, not being aware of you private circumstances and given that you're infinitely wiser than me, I'd say you'd know the right thing to do here. Other than employment that may end, what else holds you be from doing this?
It's a lull, a nadir in your PhD story, where you are unfairly comparing yourself to others, unreasonably expecting even more of yourself academically (which is magnifying your anxiety over every potentially negative word your sup says) and then rightfully worrying about employment to support yourself and where to live. I'm sending you positive vibes via my broadband connection. :-)