I am a fifth year PhD candidate about the enter my sixth and hopefully last year (cringe). I started dating my boyfriend at the start of my PhD and he has been very supportive and involved, helping me with fieldwork on a number of occasions, supporting me with my neglectful supervisor etc though he has commented that it has been hard on our relationship due to my constant stress and unavailability at times. My family does not know how to relate to what I do and are only superficially interested (so when will you be done?). None of my close friends have pursued anything beyond a bachelors and some not even that, during my PhD they all got married, bought homes and are now having kids while I toil away living the student life.
I have found throughout this time, especially in the last year or so, I have begun to be a bit resentful of everyone in my life and have had major fights with my Mom, stemming from her not caring/being involved in my life; have secretly gone back and forth about how I feel about my friends, sometimes thinking that I am not going to be friends with them at all anymore because they don't relate to anything I do, and now finally my partner. Lately I have been wondering if he is the right one for me, I feel like he is self involved and doesn't treat me with the respect I deserve.
Since I noticed a trend in all of these fights and my feelings of the relationships, I am wondering if I am just feeling sorry for myself and if anyone else has experience this during their PhD? Did you turn on everyone in your life? Any thoughts are much appreciated.
Hi, yes I know this feeling. It's been the same for me to be honest. All of my close friends are now married with kids and at a very different stage in their lives to me (I'm in a teaching focused academic position). I don't know what the answer is. I work more and see my friends less. I don't really mind though because I don't particularly want to sit around and talk about babies all day anyway. You may find it changes for you once you finish your PhD.
Ah the joy of the final year.... not... I do remember without fondness how I felt then. The stress of toiling away while no one truly understands you does get to you sometimes. And you envy what others have in their life that you don't.
Don't worry. As TreeofLife says, you will find it changes for you once you finish your PhD.
Fifthyear, yes this story will probably sound very familiar to anyone who does anything special like a PhD where, because of the level you are operating at, very few will understand what you are going through.
The common factor in your problems with others in your life is you. That would suggest the problem is on your side. You talk about what support they are failing to provide for you but I suspect you could turn that around and look at it from their perspective and reach the same conclusion. It could well be you who is withdrawing into yourself and becoming so wrapped up in your own world that it's all becoming about your needs and what you want. You should seriously consider whether this is really what is happening. Are you withdrawing into yourself and then blaming others in your life for not following after you?
The first thing you need to do is consider the above. If I am saying things which ring true then try giving something back to those who have supported you. They may no longer know how to reach you. They may be afraid of you flying off the handle and they might not know what to say to you. Give them an evening now and then where you don't talk about yourself and your PhD. See if that helps.
Secondly, you probably need to stop expecting other people to understand and care about your PhD. This is your particular career and you need to learn that only your view matters. Again turn this around. Are you showing sufficient care and interest in their lives and careers? If not you are in danger of holding others to a standard you are not meeting yourself.
Obviously we don't know each other and I don't know the intricacies of the relationships you are involved in and I may be off the mark with this but I hope there is some useful stuff in the above anyway.
Best of luck.
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