2017, You were perfect
2018, You’re more than enough already
As I wrote in my last post, I started off my 2018 a little un-conservatively.
Most new years start on January 1st.
Mine on the other hand involved no drastic changes come the 1st of January.
Instead, I took some time to reflect gradually on my 2017 and what I want to take forward into 2018.
So here, is a little ode to 2017 –
-the year that taught me my absolute limits and helped prove this quote that I have on my fridge true:
The only way to define our own limits is by going beyond them
You were perfect.
Not because of:
-or monumental milestones
(aside from a lot of PhD headway ;))
2017, you were perfect because of what I learnt in those last few months during what I will now always refer to as
The Write Up Phase.
This lesson presented itself when I wasn’t in the best place.
Where no PhD student is at their best.
Where you can’t see past the end goal.
Imagine doing an all-nighter for a deadline.
-The single focused – tunnel vision
– You’ve lost sight of the outside world
-You exist solely to meet the deadline.
– You are in a constant battle with yourself, berating yourself for leaving things until ‘the last minute’
O N L Y W A I T
this isn’t the night before the deadline
these feelings account for the last few MONTHS of your PhD
and you didn’t leave things until the last minute.
This just describes the intensity and nature of the last 6-12 months of this PhD.
And while you have these kind of epiphanies,
the looming deadline draws:
E V E R C L O S E R
Last year, I heard Jess Lively speak of this:
“Saying you ‘can’t wait for_____’ subconsciously says:
That this moment, right here, is in some way NOT good enough”
This became hugely powerful for me as I was in the last lab phases and entering
The Writing Up Phase of my PhD.
Maybe it resonates with you too.
It’s easy to think of the future as a ‘better place’ whenever we’re experiencing difficulty:
I’ll be/feel _______ when__________
I’ll be happy when______
I’ll feel calmer when_____
I’ll feel more confident if ______
– and it can be good to look ahead and feel excited.
By trying to find what is good and right in this moment,
can help you find what is ‘perfect’ already.
This is the mantra I tried to live by after I’d heard it.
Whenever I started to feel frustrated, I’d repeatedly say to myself:
This moment is perfect enough already.
What makes this moment perfect enough?
Because I realised, if my absolute happiness was dependent on finishing my PhD,
I’d still be waiting a LONG TIME for that feeling of contentment.
Because a PhD student knows:
it’s not over, until it’s over.
Submission does not equate to a PhD after your name.
Submitting does not automatically qualify you for a PhD.
You still have the Viva exam.
And even after defending your thesis for 2-3 hours, in front of 2 examiners,
a viva exam does not immediately equate to a PhD.
Does a certificate officially mean this either?
Maybe, but do you only count yourself as:
‘graduated’ once you’ve attended the ceremony?
If you’re at my university – you may be waiting up to a year since we only have 1 post-graduate ceremony a year.
It’s not over until it’s over.
Finding Gratitude in Challenging Moments
It is all too easy to feel grateful in the happy moments.
But what I’ve noticed is that it’s even more important and more powerful to train yourself to find the gratitude in the impossible moments.
The PhD process is a mental marathon.
However, the hardest for me were the last 2 months before the submission deadline.
It can truly be a challenge to list why you’re feeling grateful when all you can easily list is the number of obstacles in your way.
You hope that the amount of obstacles and work load
D E C R E A S E
the closer you get to your deadline;
-in my cases they seemed to
I N C R E A S E
Self doubt and daily overwhelm reached new levels.
You ask yourself on an hourly basis:
Will I ever finish this?
This isn’t good enough.
Can I ever finish this?
Coupled together, you lose some sense of perspective and every precious minute is accounted for.
It becomes an internal monologue that’s playing on repeat and you have no means to silence it. At best, it can be muffled but only for a few hours until the cycle continues.
E X H A U S T I N G.
As with any challenge, there are things to be grateful for and even in my tunnel vision, I managed to reframe:
–Meant working 15+ hours/day
- It showed me this level of focus is possible
- It meant I appreciated the very basic of things & the everyday ‘wins’.
1. morning sunrises and sunsets out of my window.
2. The way the light and shadows played tag throughout the day
3. A bath with pink bubbles.
I spent a LOT of time working alone, whilst my other friends had finished their PhDs.
-BUT, it gave me an opportunity to become single-focused and listening to the Jules and Sarah Podcast during my breaks helped alleviate the loneliness that had started to creep in.
I wasn’t able to spend time with friends
-BUT it showed me the unconditional love and support through their encouraging words, cards, texts, flowers and care packages.
It meant I was working over Christmas break
-BUT it showed me the absolute kindness and support of my family, how they’d bring me food and keep me company as I entered the final ‘tunnel’.
So after all that, what’s the biggest win for me right now?
– passing the viva
-getting the certificate
-getting the PhD letters after my name
What is perfect about this moment, right now?
This PhD meant working through a LOT of self-doubt.
It showed me that even when the end goal seems impossible, you just need to continue.
Continue to shuffle forward.
In Every. Single. Moment.
It’s this feeling that I’d like to bottle and carry with me into 2018 and beyond.
As humans, we are always pushing boundaries, we are always defining our limits and going beyond them.
It’s not as simple as focusing simply on the positive because that to me means disregarding the negative.
By ignoring or pushing aside hardship, you do yourself a disservice.
It’s in accepting the challenge that we are able to see past the obstacle
and see what makes this moment perfect.
Because I assure you:
there is always something that makes this moment perfect, right now, for you.
2017 you were perfect
2018, you’re more than enough already.
Until the next time,
Namaste, from Ananya