Is it normal to feel like this?

12-Apr-19, 09:11
edited about 46 seconds later
Avatar for dustbiterider
posted about 1 week ago
I'm 8 months into my PhD. I'm a British student living away from family in Australia.

I am naturally quite an outgoing, sociable person. I'm chatty, and like to be around people.

I find myself feeling a little anxious for most of my day at uni.

I feel somewhat isolated, even through there are people about. It is only me doing my project.

I don't know whether what I complete in a day/week is enough - how am I supposed to know?

I have a large open ended segment of work to have complete in several months, and its hard to break it up.

I'm used to working in a team professionally, and am finding there is very little scope to work with contemporaries on the same piece of work, as in business.

I've been having confidence issues! Am I good enough!? Even through my supervisor hasn't said anything bad, and I've won grants etc.

It seems no-one else around me have the same issues.

I've struggled to sleep properly for a long time, but cant recognise any specific thing that is keeping me up!
I'm pretty chilled an happy when I'm at home.

Does anyone else feel the same way? Or has dealt with these feelings and has an effective strategy to recommend?
13-Apr-19, 14:27
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 6 days ago
Yep this is normal.
It's not going to help you to compare a PhD to normal work because it's a solo pursuit (or it should be). You are doing something which by definition cannot have been done by anyone else. There is therefore no real "teamwork" to be involved in. Even if you were part of a team working on a piece of large science for example, you would be working on your own part so there would still be a lot of isolation.

The PhD is designed to prepare you for a career as an independent researcher.
The only really effective technique is to accept that and see it as something you value being. Anything else is going to be a coping technique and the process is going to be miserable for you. You definitely don't want to be "coping" for years. You want to be enjoying this. Focussing on synchronising what you want with what a PhD offers will buy you peace of mind.
15-Apr-19, 14:09
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 days ago
Nope, not everyone feels like this. It's definitely good to be aware of these feelings and differences (to how you normally feel), as that way, as you say, you can put strategies to help yourself.

It does sound like things are going well on the academic side of things - but you maybe are lacking a bit of structure and reassurance. You can create your own structure by breaking that task up (there must be a way to do it) and getting that plan with dates and deadlines etc down on paper. You can also write down your milestones as you achieve them (e.g., submitted a paper for publication, did this, got that etc) so that you get a sense of progress and accomplishment.

But reading what you've said, maybe what is most challenging right now is home sickness or culture shock / the more social side of things? This is never going to be easy (8 months sounds a long time but isn't really) but you can definitely do certain things that could help. For example, staying in regular contact with friends back in Australia - but also being sure to get involved in new things here in the UK - so that you establish your network of friends and can relax and feel more at home here. Do you do any hobbies etc here already? Just probing a little to see what might be helpful to suggest! :)
15-Apr-19, 14:11
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 days ago
Ps. I agree with pm133 that PhD isn't like an everyday job / work at all. So yes, comparing to that won't be helpful.


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