Lonely PhD

02-Feb-16, 05:24
edited about 20 seconds later
by patchi
Avatar for patchi
posted about 4 years ago
I am just finishing up my second year and all of the students in our group have left, so it's just my supervisor and I. I am stuck at the lab 9-5 everyday without much interaction with anyone at all, aside from the occasional (probably like twice a week) chit chats with a couple of postdocs from another group in the department that are around. I am not afraid of the hard work but it is so challenging for me without that social stimulation. On top of that things are not working for me and I have no idea what the hell I am doing and where my project is going. Constantly feeling inadequate and without help is not helping at all :/

I don't know anybody else who is doing a PhD, so I have no one to vent to about my frustrations or discuss about ideas I have. I have tried joining clubs at the University, but most members are undergraduate and only enjoy drinking and partying, which is not really my scene. I go through these emotional phases throughout the year and sometimes I am so ready to just quit my PhD and move on to do anything else.
Anyways, just here to vent... I am sure I will get over this phase sometime soon (most likely when my progress report is over in March).
02-Feb-16, 11:11
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 years ago
Hi Patchi
Sorry to hear you're going through a hard patch. But good that you know it's a phase and it'll pass (:
How about suggesting a coffee with one of the postdocs you're friendly with? Also have you tried attending events that are specific to postgraduate students? There you can meet more like-minded people and might develop some new contacts that are also looking for a bit of social stimulation to keep them going. I sometimes just ask people I meet once or twice at postgrad seminars etc at my uni if they wanna stay in touch or do coffee sometime - and usually the response is positive!
Good luck!
02-Feb-16, 12:55
by Hugh
Avatar for Hugh
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From patchi:
On top of that things are not working for me and I have no idea what the hell I am doing and where my project is going. Constantly feeling inadequate and without help is not helping at all :/ .

My advice would be try and sort this out first. Once you know where your project is going, what you are aiming for, you will feel much better.

A social life is very important. Have you thought of joining online PhD support networks like this forum or on Facebook/Twitter. Otherwise, how about some social groups outside of university, like a cooking/knitting/sport/cultural club?
03-Feb-16, 05:53
edited about 17 seconds later
by patchi
Avatar for patchi
posted about 4 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to my first conference in a week time and hopefully I will meet some people there. I am not really big on social media so I don't participate in any Facebook or Twitter support groups, but this looks like a great avenue to get advice and support. I think the biggest problem I have with joining clubs is the limited amount of time I have. I have always looked around for meetup groups but have never made it to any of the ones I am interested in mostly because of timing. I am part of my Toastmaster club, which is great because there's always very inspiring people speaking.
But thanks for listening to my frustrations! :)
03-Feb-16, 16:01
Avatar for DocInsanity
posted about 4 years ago
I think for many PhD students (certainly at smaller institutions) establishing a network outside the university is vital! Going to a conference you'll meet other people doing similar work, so really make the most of it and give out cards if you have any.
05-Feb-16, 16:31
Avatar for duffyduck
posted about 4 years ago
Hi, here are some practical tips I used and am using to improve my network:
(although I have to admit I am far away from being the only phd around, like your situation is)
- to know where you project is going: try to have weekly/biweekly discussion with your supervisor to discuss what you did and what you can do next, so you will have a practical idea of what's happening
- to extend your network: if there are talks/seminars in your uni or a nearby institute that are even slightly related to your topic, definely go there.
maybe you are shy but you can try to do a little effort to actively know someone new there
- to meet new friends: if you live in a big city you can have a look to websites like meetup.com where you can meet people with your same interests (reading, painting, ecc) outside the campus
08-Feb-16, 06:19
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for Ehcsztein
posted about 4 years ago
Hi Patchi,

It's sad to read that you are feeling lonely. It's a horrible feeling and I can most definitely relate. I have just signed up to this postgrad forum in hopes to make some online friends who are also writing their PhD's. Sometimes it's just nice to know you're not alone. I don't have much time to get away from desk as I am in my second year also, socialising is difficult. I figured if I set up some kind of online network then maybe I could solve my loneliness issue. Let me know if you think this sounds like a good idea you might be interested in. Hope you're feeling a little better today. :)
17-Aug-16, 15:37
Avatar for PoeticHeroGrand
posted about 4 years ago
Loneliness seems to struck most post graduate students. I have started my PhD a month ago and I can honestly say that making friends is much, much harder than it was as an undergraduate. Whomever I talk seems to be distracted or have already enough friends that they don't seem to want to chat or have a talk. Everyone seems so distant and occupied or sometimes just plain rude. I know that doing PhD is hard but shunning the new guy in the department does take its tall on you, you know and I am not around here. I came from overseas to a new country so I have no friends here to talk or have a cup of coffee with....

It feels as if this PhD is going to be a long and self-crushing one
17-Aug-16, 18:50
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
You're only a month in Poetic - give it time - you will make friends. Plus I bet there'll be a bunch of new students starting in Oct so you can see if you can help them out and then become friends that way.
18-Aug-16, 19:22
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for aboutimeee
posted about 4 years ago
I know how you feel Patchi. I'm in similar situation where all the people from my group have left and I'm the only one working long hours in the lab. To top it of, my group is not getting any new PhDs for next year's intake. It's going to a long and boring year.
22-Aug-16, 17:02
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for affiliatev
posted about 4 years ago
Hi Patchi, I'm just interested to know if you have a different outlook 6 months down the line? It would be great to hear how certain difficulties faced by individuals, in the same position, can be overcome.


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