No man is an island… unless you are doing a PhD? (And how to be a PhD survivor)

Okay, probably not everyone would agree on this.

But I prefer to be an island when it comes to doing a PhD. I heard of woes about how doing a PhD can be a lonely journey. Sometimes, there could be limited academic (and mental) support and literally only you will understand what your research is all about. Supervisors might forget about what you are up to, and other PhD colleagues are just too busy to bother about you.

Turning this “lonely journey” to a more positive note, I find that I enjoy the independence of learning and managing time for my research. Sure, I have days I feel like I’m all alone and feel uncertain about my own work. But self-doubt can be very destructive. So even though being alone trains me to be more confident with my own work, it takes time to reach to that level of confidence, especially when you are trying to “trick” your supervisors or peers into thinking that you know what you are talking about.

On that note, I am still training myself to be a PhD survivor with some tricks:

1. Be less dependent on people – because people simply have their own lives and they don’t really care.

2. Be confident with your writing – who cares about grammar mistakes (my supervisors do)? Just write out your thoughts as draft and rewrite it later.

3. Role play – act intelligent and smart… I find that it would boost my confidence at times when I feel intimidated by smart people around the room.

No one wants to be an island… well my introvert-side of me wants to be happily isolated from the academic continent. But even though being an island can be seen as bad, I still find the lonely PhD trail can be enjoyable and it”s best to have it uninterrupted.


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