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Thursday, 16 April 2020 at 3:21pm
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Thread: 1st year anxiety around progress

16-Apr-20, 15:42
edited about 29 seconds later
by rasx
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posted about 1 month ago
I am 7 months into my PhD, it's a collaborative interdisciplinary PhD in indigenous studies, library studies and digital humanities. I honestly feel like I have achieved nothing in 7 months and I have never experienced anxiety at this level. So far, I have written a really bad literature review and hopped between different avenues of research without fully immersing myself in anything because I constantly think I am doing something wrong and I am aware of everything I haven't done. Above all, I have extremely vague research questions and no method or plan for how to answer them. I am currently spending my time trying to go back and read in-depth the literature but this anxiety and sense of aimlessness makes everything difficult. I know that many people experience similar levels of anxiety/ concern but sometimes it is hard to tell what level is 'normal'- every day there is a period of time where I feel overcome with panic and sometimes I think that I should just quit.

Also, I know that my anxiety stems from feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. While I know everyone progresses differently and it's hard (and you shouldn't) compare, is it normal to spend the first year feeling like this, mainly searching and feeling like you have no focused plan? I keep telling myself that if I can secure research questions and a plan to answer it by the end first year and the 12 month review, then this will be a good place to be and I can spend the second year more focused. Again, I find it really difficult as the answer I always get from my supervisors is 'everyone progresses differently', but when you have no yardsticks and feel like every goal you set yourself is wrong it can be hard to have any sense as to where you are. I guess I just feel like I must be behind as I don't even know what I'm trying to answer at this stage.

Thanks for any help
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