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February 03, 2012

Fear of writing, fear of finishing? – by Sarahjane

As odd as this may sound, I think I fear finishing my PhD. I often hear of the troubles students have in writing up their research, which I have not been immune to but I wonder if my difficulties actually lie with being afraid of writing or afraid of finishing. For finishing the doctorate would signal the beginning of the end of what has been a very traumatic process yet an extremely surreal and strangely enjoyable 3 years.

What does finishing the thesis offer? Sure, a new start, a new title and new opportunities, but exactly what? Right now, I don’t know and that it scary. With no job to speak of, no industrial experience and a turbulent economic environment in to which I am to dive, I can begin to understand the reason for my fear. Prospect don’t look bright.

In less than 8 months I am to submit my thesis and enter the world of work. Something I must do desperately in order to make my mortgage repayments yet I look forward and see darkness. No certainty, no career no financial stability. Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to live the PhD life forever, but there is something comforting about our sheltered existence; accountable only to ourselves, sheltered from the cold winds of employment.

Doing a PhD is often described as an isolating experience. Whilst comfortable in the knowledge, that for a little while at least, I am probably the most knowledge individual about my chosen research topic, this position can be quite lonely. Combined with being in an empty office, travelling supervisors and friends in less academic disciplines, I question who I can turn to in such uncertain times. Particularly when I don’t know if anyone else has experienced something similar. Do you?

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