PhD newbie, lonely and anxious already!


Hello all!
So a bit of background I finished my masters mid September and started my PhD at the end of September. I have been so lucky to have secured funding and the whole thing felt like a total dream! When I was doing my masters I worked 23 hours, I had one 12 hour day of lectures and another doing university work, some weeks I did 6 days. Yes, at times I found it hard, especially being a single mother, but I never once felt lonely!! I was so excited to start my PhD, i really like both my supervisors they research in areas I'm interested in and I think they are genuinely great people! But I am struggling with my anxiety, I've met with a variety of people to help conduct my primary research, drafted some ethics and read loads. But I feel like I don't currently have the confidence to share this information, or I feel like I don't I belong, I don't really seem to see any other PhD students, most of my friends have partners and jobs, so I rarely see them. When did my masters I didn't feel like this at all but I wonder if its because I didn't have the time too worry? What's everyone else's experiences?

Avatar for Mark_B


Sorry to hear you're having this experience. Some of it reminds me of the early stages of my own PhD.

It can definitely be tough feeling like you're out of step with your social circle (who all seem to have started 'real life' without you). The best advice I can give for that is simply to remember that you do have a job: your PhD. You applied for that job, you got it and it's yours. So is the salary (well, funding). Be proud of that.

I'd also suggest trying to get together with the other students in your department. Are there any regular reading / discussion groups you could attend? Could you start one, if not? I did this myself 'back in the day' and it was very rewarding - the group still meets now, even though most of them wouldn't know who I was if I walked in ;)

I'm sure others here will have some advice and reassurance to offer. If nothing else, you aren't alone here.


Avatar for rewt

I felt the same way when i started. Which is why I took so long to post, as I am still not sure if I have resolved this issue myself. The main thing I can say is you are not alone and quite a lot of PhD students have similar problems at some point. Impostor syndrome and loneliness are too major issues with postgraduate reserach that only get mentioned after you start feeling them.

My advice is be brave and just put yourself out there. Once you do it once or twice it becomes easier and you rebuild confidence in yourself. It is easy to build a wall around your work as you wait to perfect it but the best way to improve your work is to show it to other people. Generic university conferences or department conferences are great ways to share your work as the questions are not too difficult and rather generic. Also talking with every research student you can find helps in the long term. I know more people in other departments than my own and you can rebuild your friend network. Losing old friends is part of life and the only real solution is make new friends.