Good question! It has probably been the longest time period during which I have not posted on my blog, and it's not for lack of having things to write about. As a quick catch up with what's been going, I have:
- submitted the ethics application for the next study and had it accepted;
- resubmitted the paper that was not accepted at CHI to a new conference, with corrections;
- continued development for the next study (though there's still a lot more work to get done);
- organised and ran another steering group meeting to get feedback for the next study;
- taken time off to celebrate my husband's graduation from his Master's course; and
- kept up with lots of other meetings and events in and out of university.
So, what's up?
The truth is, I have not felt very engaged with my work since December last year, even though I have been moving forward constructively. In all honesty, I have struggled to motivate myself and find enjoyment in my work. I have written before about having good days and bad days in terms of getting down to work, but it has been different recently; I have achieved things, but I haven't always felt good about what I'm doing.
The year-two-of-the-research-project blues have hit, and it's taken me a while to work through that and identify what the problem is. In an attempt to try and work out why I have been feeling this way, I have spoken to a range of people for various reasons, which has helped. Upon reflection, my thoughts and feelings are, in part, due to feeling isolated, which... sounds silly when you consider that I work in an office with wonderful people and am part of a cohort of students doing the same degree as me.
I know, and knew, that feelings of isolation are common among doctoral students, but I didn't realise that I was feeling isolated, partly because my mood has also been related to something else (but that's for a different blog post!). I have realised that working with others can really help me feel more motivated, but it took a while to figure it out.
What are you doing to combat it?
With this new-found realisation, I have reached out to some of my peers, who have helped with planning a couple of events that should help avoid those feelings of isolation.
One event, a research working group, is aimed at providing us with a structured way of reflecting on our work and giving feedback to each other. Usually as a doctoral student, you are the only one working on your project apart from your supervisors, which can feel like a lot of pressure. I hope that by actively seeking feedback from and offering feedback to other people will shine a light on our shared experience, whilst also helping us complete better quality work.
The other event is an after work craft group for those of us who enjoy making things. There are enough of us to get together for a knit and natter, so why not make the most out of the mindfulness making can bring and pencil in a meeting?
Where are you at now?
I have a busy time ahead of me, both in and out of university, but right now, things are on the up and I feel a bit more in control again. I'm looking forward to working more closely with my peers and I'm sure meeting with them more regularly will keep some of those negative feelings at bay.
Any last thoughts?
Openness and honesty are important to me, so I wanted to share how I have been feeling recently. I hope that anyone reading this who might feel similarly, now or in the future, can take solace knowing: you are not alone.
Although negative feelings can form a part of completing a doctorate, it will get better and, even if things aren't going well right now, talking about it can help. When you work out what's troubling you, I encourage you to make positive changes that will allow you to do more of what you enjoy, which will ultimately help you to feel more satisfied.
Thank you for reading and take care!