“Should I continue with this PhD?”

[Week 83] Nothing like gazing into the darkness like some depressed person to gain a new perspective on life.
[Week 83] Nothing like gazing into the darkness like some depressed person to gain a new perspective on life.
It’s been two weeks since I first received the infamous warning letter and I’ve had time to return from my point of burning anger and reflect. Life has always thrown curve balls, as they say, and I can choose to run, to duck, or to catch it and throw it back so hard life gets hit in the eye. Or something along those lines.

In line with this, I’ve taken some time to unpack what is going on and decided to begin by asking myself some honest questions:

  1. Will I allow myself to be a victim or will I choose to be responsible for this situation?
  2. Will I continue to react to circumstances or will I choose to create the life I want to live?
  3. Can I take the time to respond from a place of clarity and strength, rather than immediately react to this experience?
  4. Will I blame others for the situation or will I take responsibility for it and create an action plan to move forward from a place of personal power and strength?
  5. Am I allowing someone else to take away my own agency? (Hint: if you’re playing the victim, the answer to this will always be yes. And for someone writing a dissertation on agency, this is not acceptable.)
  6. How can I instead make myself useful in this circumstance in order to feel empowered rather than weighed down?
  7. How can I create something meaningful for me and/or others out of this experience?
  8. Am I placing undue expectations on myself or others? Are those expectations serving me in any way?
  9. What if, through this challenge I choose to learn, create, grow and expand rather than blame, resent or accuse?
  10. What is my gut telling me? (And am I listening?)

Life is often brings us low points and the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond.

In any situation, it’s about choosing: Will I allow this to upset me? Will I allow myself to play the victim? Will I let someone else decide whether I continue this PhD?

And so far, the answer is no. Therefore in the coming two months I’m going to put my head down and do all the research and writing that I was denied to me in Rome, and prove that not only do I love this field but that no arbitrarily placed deadlines are going to get me down. My research project is exciting and new and this pressure can only serve to make me stronger— it can also break me, let’s be realistic here— but at this point I choose to come from a position of strength.

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