I've been going through a difficult situation with my family since November last year and have recently been bereaved, aside from the psychological and emotional effect this has had on me it has undoubtedly afected my Masters. Although I am on a merit at the moment, my grades are not what they were and what I want them to be. This is not upsetting me too much as I think I can pull them up a bit with this semester and my dissertation, what is getting to me more is the general feeling that I am letting myself down, although I have wanted to be there for my family for the last few months this is not what I wanted for my MSc year.
I had a long chat with my dissertation supervisor and personal tutor last week and he asked me about the personal problems I'd been having (I emailed him to briefly tell him what was going on as I thought I should inform him of something that is affecting my work)...I don't usually show my emotions at uni at all but I just burst into tears, I didn't expect to do that and I don't really know what came over me, it was all a bit awkward really I just grabbed a tissue from my bag and sorted myself out. I wasn't actually crying just a bit teary, I apologised and he seemed ok with it, I think we generally have a positive working relationship but I don't want him to think I'm an emotional wreck, or that I'm using him as a counsellor.
I have another meeting next week and hopefully that will be better...hopefully he would have forgotten about by then and it won't affect his opinion of me too much. Has this happened to anyone else? Nxx
In short - yes!! I have also been upset in front of my supervisor when it's all been a bit too much - and it's been fine. Sometimes these things just happen. I've also cried in front of my work bosses on countless occasions over the years (and I'm not really an emotional wreck (!), but like you, have also experienced bereavement, on top of a massive workload). Supervisors and managers take it in their stride, if they're any good. They know that students have other things going on in their lives, and that at times this can be stressful.
Don't worry about it. It's good that your sup know what's going on with you, your relationship will be back to normal before you know it. Take it easy and be kind to yourself, it sounds tough at the moment.
I'm sorry to hear you've had that going on Natassia, it sounds as if you're doing a great job in the circumstances.
Don't worry about what happened, most people have ranted/cried/stressed in front of their supervisors at some point, as Sue says, any decent one will take it in stride. If all you did was get a bit teary and then straighten yourself out he certainly shouldn't view you as inapropriate. And he asked you about the issues so I'm sure you don't come across as using him for counselling.
I once had to go to a meeting after some very bad news and tried to brush off my bright red eyes as "out of season hayfever" - sup 2 clearly knew I was fibbing and sup1 hasn't stopped offering me allergy remedies since! Far better to be in honest I think.
Hope everything calms down at home and you're work hasn't suffered too much.
I wish I could do this with my supervisor. Things would be so much simpler if I could cry to show how stressed I am, instead I end up saying "everythings fine!" and then I end up with no help, whereas my sups other supervisees get lots of special treatment because they cry.
I don't think I've ever cried in public because I am some kind of repressed English person! I am also known for my non-contact with others and I have a special greeting. I put my hand up in a 'hi' type wave - but it basically looks like a 'stop' hand signal, so it lets people know that I am not open for hugging or any physical contact!
Hey Natassia! Yeah, I have cried in front of my supervisor when I wasn't well last year. I was bad with the bipolar and felt like everything was getting on top of me...it was fine in the end. I was really embarrassed but I just couldn't stop crying, and I'm not normally one to cry in front of anyone! Actually, her reaction made me realise that she is human after all, and in a way it was better to get things out in the open and be able to talk honestly about things. Much worse was the time when I cried in front of the departmental statistician because he was tearing my project to pieces and I was so stressed out (he's not a psychologist and didn't understand what I was trying to do). I was mortified but he didn't even react- he just carried on telling me how my project was not going to work. In the end I said I had to go out for 5 minutes to get myself sorted out, then I went back in and he just carried on where he left off, slagging my project off! But afterwards I was so embarrassed and felt so pathetic and even now I remember it every time I see him, although he has been very nice to me since then- I suspect the sup had a word! In short- don't worry about it, I reckon all supervisors are used to this sort of thing! Best, KB
I had a bit of a nasty confrontation with my MA supervisor and it was quite clear I was on the brink of tears. A combination of personal distress, and frustration with him. My voice was shaking and I was definitely welling up. I've never seen a grown man look so uncomfortable in all my life...
In your situation however, when it's clearly about personal issues, your supervisor will understand (unless he's a monster). He won't think any less of you at all. Don't worry about that.
What the heck, this is an anonymous forum. I have. My PhD is much of my life and represents all my hopes and fears for the future. When something takes place in my life outside of the PhD, it affects my PhD. I'm quite a sensitive person, through no fault of my own (it's just who I am), and I don't have particularly thick skin, so I have shown emotion in front of my supervisor. Although I've not actually shed tears, I've expressed anger, disappointment, upset and regret. I'm a person with, for better or for worse, my own personality who happens to be a researcher in training. I do my utmost to the best person I can be, but I'm not a robot and, whether through facial expressions and body language, the candour of my voice or my eyes, I express my emotions.
Natassia, I wouldn't be ashamed of showing emotion to your supervisor. Bereavement is a terrible experience and you're a person experiencing a whole range of feelings and emotions and a whole lot of pressure. And TBH, his opinion of you won't have changed, no way. He'll still recognise you for the passionate, dedicated and hard working individual that you are. (up)
Thanks for the replies, very reassuring and they've made me feel a lot better, now I know that I'm not the only one. I think we were both a bit taken aback to be honest, but it has also cleared the air, he knows how I am feeling now and hopefully he'll understand the effect it has had on my work and be able to help where appropriate. He can be quite pushy but he is certainly not a monster, if I show that I haven't changed I think he'll be fine.
Like you have said, bereavement is terrible, this is the first really close bereavement that I have been through so I don't have any other situation to compare it to; I just have to muddle through as best I can. The funeral has happened now so hopefully I'll start to feel a bit better soon, although at the moment it feels like a permanent state, I have totally worn myself out. Have a presentation to do tomorrow though, so need to perk myself up a bit!
Yip, I've been very close to tears in front of my supervisor twice - it's totally normal, think that nearly every student has! He's a shy man too and I'm a very emotional woman, so think he must of felt a little awkward :p
I've had angry rants in front of him too, tending to be about my secondary supervisor who neither of us like very much!
I have also had a good cry in front of my supervisor, not just a few tears that showed I was stressed, but the big shuddery shoulder heaving crying that leaves you unable to speak... :-) The first time I cried was way at the start, we both had some very different ideas for the topic and I had tried to talk it through with him and he got all mad and started shouting at me so I just sat there crying like a loser. We got it sorted in the end, and he did come and apologise after and it's never been a problem in our working relationship. I think he just respected that I did something about it!
The second time was when I was having trouble wth another colleague who was basically bullying me. I did everything I could to avoid going to my sup but eventually I had to or my project would have suffered. That's the time it was big tears, I must have sat there for about 10 minutes trying to gather myself and even when I could speak it came in big bursts of air! But he was great about it, took his phone off the hook, switched his mobile off (he's ALWAYS busy) and let me sit there as long as it took. He helped me sort out the problem with the colleague and even phoned me the next time I was working with the guy to make sure it was all going ok.
So, you never know, a good cry might be just the thing to get you through! Really, don't worry about it.
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