Final stages... lost all motivation, crippled with failure feelings.

posted
18-Aug-13, 14:33
Avatar for starsgoblue
posted about 7 years ago
Hi, all. Long-time lurker on this board and really at my wits end right now so thought I'd post.

I'm just coming up to the end of my three-year funded phd, in English Literature, in the UK. So far, I've coped pretty well with everything in the past 3 years - have been optimistic, driven etc. Have already got two peer-reviewed pubs, a forthcoming book chapter, have organised (and won funding for) two conferences, done lots of presentations both at home and abroad...

However, had a meeting with my supervisor and while I had aimed to submit the finished thesis before Xmas, she thinks it could be as late as April-time before I am realistically ready to submit. Pragmatically, I know that she is right. In my mind I know a lot of the reasons for late submission spans back from my original supervisor being on sick leave for the first semester of my phd and then leaving mid-way through my 2nd year. Really it has only been the last few months where I've felt "ready" to write.

I have gone through my fair share of "no-one cares.. why should I" emotions. My funding runs out in Sept but I've found a freelance writing job that pays well with minimal hours to get me through the late months.

However, I can't seem to get over the mind-numbing feelings of FAILURE that I will be submitting late. I've always felt like an imposter throughout the phd process (having a difficult differentiation at the end of Year 1 still haunts me). You see read about phd people finishing up on time on Twitter etc and it just kills all motivation in me whatsoever. I'm in an abyss of self-loathing, about my self and my project.

- How bad is it to finish the phd in 3.5/even 4 years?
- How can I jig myself up?
- Is it worth it? Really?
posted
18-Aug-13, 16:46
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 7 years ago
Hi starsgoblue,

you seem like you are in the right track. I am in a similar situation as my funding runs out in September but I need a few more months before I finish writing up. I need to finish a few papers and apply for jobs (which so far has been a disaster). I also feel a little bit upset that I won't finish on time, but my amazing supervisor extended my funding for a few months. I feel tired and whatever I write is stupid. To explain how I feel imagine you had just being dumped by a boyfriend and multiply this feeling by 10.
Well, there is cure for all the above, it took me a while but here is the conclusion (you can thank me later):

GRIN AND BARE IT.
If it doesn't work, then think it was your decision to start the stupid PhD, and now you have to finish it.
If it doesn't work go in front of the mirror and slap yourself in the face. Repeat as necessary.

Good luck :)
posted
18-Aug-13, 20:27
edited about 27 seconds later
by satchi
Avatar for satchi
posted about 7 years ago
hi starsgoblue
WOW You have an impressive phd record -- "two peer-reviewed pubs, a forthcoming book chapter, have organised (and won funding for) two conferences, done lots of presentations both at home and abroad.."

And congratulations on your upcoming freelance writing job! That's EXCELLENT!

My funding ended also in September--2 years ago--I still haven't been able to find a decent paying job--and I am supported by my bf (at least one of us HAS a job!), we are ok.

I hope your feelings of "failure" will go away somehow, or rather, and maybe you will be able to cope with these feelings. Please don't take them seriously, because they are only conjured up by your mind which is always calculating, weighing, working etc.

You are NOT a failure! See how much you have achieved!!!

Here's answering your 3 questions:

- How bad is it to finish the phd in 3.5/even 4 years?

ANSWER: NOT BAD AT ALL. I know a guy who did a phd in 8 YEARS. Mine will be finished in 5 YEARS (also counting viva so it makes 5 years)--and why--because I spent so long waiting for things to happen---ethics approval, supervisor to actually read what I've written etc.

- How can I jig myself up?

ANSWER: Be kind to yourself--also remember there are other who have taken LONGER, or even dropped out of their phd. Don't look at "time" because if you measure up everything with time, you will never be happy.

- Is it worth it? Really?

ANSWER: YES it's worth it--despite all the frustration--worth it because you have come this far, you have done so well all this time---so don't let any "feelings" of failure pull you down BECAUSE YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER than what your feelings say--so ignore those feelings, see them floating around, and don't get dragged into it!!!

love satchi
posted
19-Aug-13, 16:12
Avatar for charmlessman
posted about 7 years ago
My PhD is four years long. Don't worry if you go over by a few months. The funding deadline does not dictate when your work should actually be ready and it doesn't make you a failure.
posted
19-Aug-13, 16:55
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 7 years ago
In short, it's my perception that it is only a minority of PhD students who finish in bang on three years. Lots of people take considerably longer. It's not worth wasting energy in reflecting on not ticking the magic three year box. If you can get by financially, and there are no constraints from your uni, then you have nothing to worry about by going on for an extra 6 months. Just make sure you have one eye on whatever comes next and don't delay job applications etc until the PhD is all signed off.
posted
19-Aug-13, 20:51
by Peppa
Avatar for Peppa
posted about 7 years ago
Hiya starsgoblue, I am in the same predicament myself, only I'm already at the end of my fourth year. I've written a respectable amount of words for my thesis, only to be told by my SV last week that it lacks depth and focus. To make matters worse, I had a personal crisis 10 days ago which made me feel like my partner had dumped me. I really felt like crying...so I called up my best friend who lives at the other side of the world for some comfort. Like you, I honestly don't know how I can finish this thesis, because at the moment everything seems to be full of holes. I feel slightly better now after blurting everything to my best friend. I guess I will have to do my best to tie everything up before end of this year. Hope you feel better soon.
posted
19-Aug-13, 22:32
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for starsgoblue
posted about 7 years ago
Thanks so much everyone, for all your replies. It has been so good to know I'm not the only one who has gone past the three-year mark. I just have to drill it into my mind that I'm not writing from an "already failed" place. It's difficult but I'll try to keep spirits up.

In a way, all this failure does feel akin to a break up. I feel unusually emotional, vulnerable etc. But so appreciative that you guys took the time to reply to me. Good luck everyone! :)
posted
20-Aug-13, 09:13
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 7 years ago
In a way, all this failure does feel akin to a break up. I feel unusually emotional, vulnerable etc. But so appreciative that you guys took the time to reply to me. Good luck everyone! :)

Er, I genuinely don't see any evidence of a failure. So your funding is only for three years? Well funding bodies don't have the resources to offer longer studentships in the majority of cases. Doesn't mean that good work only takes three years/

I think it might be worth taking some time to reframe your perceptions before proceeding further, as that kind of thinking is not going to be conducive to tackling the final stretch.
posted
20-Aug-13, 09:19
edited about 21 seconds later
Avatar for starsgoblue
posted about 7 years ago
Hi HazyJane, I think you're right. I need to re-frame my perceptions. I spend so much time worrying about other people's finish dates and why I'm not finishing up (hence, feeling like I've failed/been "left behind"), it's impeding my actual work.

Writing about it on here and taking a break over the weekend has been good though. Thanks again.

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