The ramblings of an absent-minded doctoral student

The ramblings of an absent-minded doctoral student. Chronicling my life as I earn a PhD in history.

Friday, April 22, 2011

bigger than the Twilight love affair

No matter how many times other people say they feel the same way I do, I still feel vaguely alone. I've always excelled at school. It was the one thing I thought I was really good at, where I felt confident. School was just kind of my thing, where I felt the happiest. At this level, though, I feel average at best. I know that there will always be people smarter than me, more accomplished than me, but I often wish I just understood things the way Elegant E, Boonie and C. Dawg* do. We're all first years, but they just have this knowledge base and this ability to grasp concepts that seem to just....escape me. The feeling I have when I'm sitting in Military Thought and Strategy, of not knowing what's going and feeling like I have nothing of value to contribute, is the same feeling that's started to creep into all of my studies. Beyond my inability to read Dutch, the only time I feel even semi-confident is when I'm reading about and discussing piracy and privateering events. And even then, my knowledge is debatable.

I love my colleagues. The cohort at OSU is fantastic and they've really helped to make my transition more bearable. But there's still something about Ohio that feels mildly uncomfortable. Maybe it's just been the weather lately. But battling depression on top of doctoral work is a challenge and a half....

*names have been changed for privacy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

incessant battles with ourselves

No matter how much work I seem to complete, it always feels like I haven't done anything.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Feeling a little like Carrie Bradshaw

Daily I wonder what I’m doing with my life and whether I’ve made the right choices. Have I really been following my dreams? Or am I just afraid of failing and ready to give up because the path is difficult? I honestly don’t know, sometimes, whether or not I’m going to succeed in earning my PhD. I doubt myself constantly, wondering if I’m smart enough. Everyone else seems to have it all figured out, balancing life and school, getting great grades and managing to complete everything in such a timely and productive manner. And I know I shouldn’t compare myself to other people. Everyone works in their own ways. And maybe procrastination, albeit a bad habit, is my way. I think what I’m most worried about is not being adequate when it comes to researching my seminar/dissertation topic. I’m not even sure what I’m arguing. I have a vague inclination of what I want to write about, but I’m supposed to be proving something, writing something of significant historical value. I know that pirates affected trade, every historian knows that, but the question is how? In what capacity? Am I really capable of learning French, Dutch and potentially Spanish in order to complete this project in the next 3 years? Will I get enough funding to go overseas and do work in the archives? How do people do it? I have a Master’s degree, so I’m supposed to be somewhat ahead of some people, but in reality I feel so far behind, so unintelligent. I know others must deal with some of these feelings of inadequacy, but we all hide it so well. How do people take classes, do generals, research their topics and grade/DSL?! When do we just cut through all the bullshit and say “I have no idea what I’m doing?” Is it possible to ever be truly satisfied with our work, with our accomplishments, or has society warped us into believing that we're never enough, that we must always strive for more? Am I the only one who is going a little bit crazy here? And why is it that all of our successes are overshadowed by our failures and shortcomings? According to a 2009 sleep study, 65% of Americans lose sleep because of stress and 15% actually suffer from stress-induced insomnia (I, being one of those 15%). Our lives continue to become more fast-paced and we're encouraged to work harder for longer hours. When did work become so much more important than our sleep, our health, and our lives? I know that it's too much to ask, but all I want to do is relax. Anyone got some bubble bath or scented candles???