Many (most?) people start their PhDs with at least some element of impostor syndrome i.e. the feeling that you are not good enough, or don’t have the necessary competencies, to actually get this thing done. I certainly felt that way when I started my own journey. Mornings were no longer about hectic ward rounds; instead, I found myself staring at my computer screen, trying to figure out if I should read another scientific paper or just call it a day and go
to Blackwell’s home.
Eventually though, things begin to fall into a natural rhythm.
In my case, getting started with neuropsychological testing, calling up participants for MRI scanning, all these helped me establish a routine so I could feel like I was doing something. Of course, everything changed drastically during the pandemic, but at least I knew then what I needed to do, even if it was difficult or impossible to do right then because of all the lockdowns.
Alhamdulillah, I am now in my third year of this DPhil programme. Things are beginning to fall into place. In fact, I can honestly say that I am beginning to enjoy myself. It feels strange to describe a PhD as a vacation, but compared to the hectic life of a clinician, it sure is nice to be able to set aside some time to think about how the brain works, how stuff like memory work etc. Don’t get me wrong, life as an academician is far from easy, but it cannot compare with the life-and-death decisions that one sometimes has to make as a clinician. If I have any regrets about this PhD, it’s the fact that it’s too short. Three years is just about enough to begin to appreciate the complexity of what you are studying, but such is the reality of modern life that you feel like you constantly have to rush from one thing to another just to keep up.
One thing I’ve learnt is that it is important to celebrate small victories around the way. This week, I gave a presentation during our weekly lab meeting and for the first time, I felt that my work met the high standards expected here. I shared with my lab-mates the results from one of my behavioural experiments, and also some work I’d done on probabilistic tractography using diffusion MRI data. Both are not finished yet, but I got some really good comments from the wonderful people in my research group.
Like I said…small victories.
Anyway, in case you are still reading this, I’d like to share with you a quote I got from God-knows-where. I absolutely love it because it reflects the hard work and dedication necessary to achieve big things in life. It goes like this:
Choose your corner, pick away at it carefully, intensely and to the best of your ability and that way you might change the world.
As always, thank you very much for reading.