PhD student. Feel worthless. Watch

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Anonymous #1
#1
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#1
Sorry if this is kind of the wrong place.. I just need somewhere to get this out.

I've just started the 3rd year of my PhD (Physics related) and I just feel like maybe I should've quit a long time ago. I've been feeling especially rubbish this past week. I'm just finishing up my first paper, and I got some comments on it from someone I really respect, who will be a co-author. There's so many things I've got to fix and I just feel like it's a terrible paper that's never going to be finished. I really can't see how I'm going to have a whole thesis in a year and a half's time.

I feel like I'm not as smart or motivated as the other students. I do love my subject, but the lack of motivation comes from a lack of self-worth. I'm like.. what's the point when I'm never going to be as good as my colleagues. I just feel so low. I feel like my supervisor is only keeping me here because it would look bad for me to quit. Please help..
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lamentas
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Sorry if this is kind of the wrong place.. I just need somewhere to get this out.

I've just started the 3rd year of my PhD (Physics related) and I just feel like maybe I should've quit a long time ago. I've been feeling especially rubbish this past week. I'm just finishing up my first paper, and I got some comments on it from someone I really respect, who will be a co-author. There's so many things I've got to fix and I just feel like it's a terrible paper that's never going to be finished. I really can't see how I'm going to have a whole thesis in a year and a half's time.

I feel like I'm not as smart or motivated as the other students. I do love my subject, but the lack of motivation comes from a lack of self-worth. I'm like.. what's the point when I'm never going to be as good as my colleagues. I just feel so low. I feel like my supervisor is only keeping me here because it would look bad for me to quit. Please help..
It sounds painful to be where you're at. Those voices that say we're worthless or not good enough can seem very loud and it's difficult to challenge their veracity.

I have lived many years listening to them, not questioning them, because they mirror what I internalized from my parents. I never felt good enough or deserving and those voices (which are not really voices but rather more like a flavour of my internal world) just seemed to be telling me the truth.

I did a lot of things because I didn't think I was "worthy" or "good enough" and it is especially painful when one comparea one to others.

I don't have an answer for you. I will say that i have something similar when I am writing. I feel nothing is good enough and if someone does not like what I wrote? I feel like giving up forever. What's the point? I'll never be good enough, I'll never get published.

But then my best friend reminds me it has nothing to do with other people or whether what I write is good or not. I enjoy it and good or not, nothing makes me happier/sadder than creating stories.

I imagine Physics is the same for you; with its orderly and beautiful world of atoms and electrons and the certainties and uncertainty.

I hope you find it in you to finish the PhD. If only because you once thought it a good idea. Maybe you'll be the worst Physicist ever, maybe you'll be mediocre or maybe you'll be the next Einstein. You're not required to bring excellence to whatever you do. You just need to show up and do your best.

Hugs...
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lalapo69
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2. A manned rocket comes to a halt and begins to fall towards Earth. Aftersome time, at a height of 300 m above the surface of the Earth, it isfalling directly downwards at a velocity of 100 m s−1. At this point thepilot decides to fire the rocket engines such that he gives himself an upwardacceleration of 9.81 m s−2.
  1. (a) Show that he crashes by calculating the stopping distance.
help please
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doodle_333
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phDs are tough and imposter syndrome is really common, I bet if you spoke to any other students they'd tell you they feel the same or have felt the same... it's quite normal to drop out of the phD after 2 years and take an mphil instead, unis won't bother funding you if you're not going to acheive anything, it costs them a lot of money and time.

When I wrote my first solo paper I had SO much negative feedback (even after several reviews with my supervisor and submitting to a crappy journal) and felt so ****ty but in reality, you're new to this and you can't expect to be amazing at writing a perfect research paper before you've ever even tried. It's very different to your degree essays and the standard is much higher, remember you're competing with lecturers with a 30 year career behind them and you suddenly have to step up and be able to compete with no experience. It's hard. That's why you have a supervisor and why you get lots of feedback, to help you get to the level you need.

Talk to people around you, talk to your supervisor, talk to your family and friends... you might find it's really reassuring
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miheerdew
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This is very beautiful. Thank you.
(Original post by lamentas)
It sounds painful to be where you're at. Those voices that say we're worthless or not good enough can seem very loud and it's difficult to challenge their veracity.

I have lived many years listening to them, not questioning them, because they mirror what I internalized from my parents. I never felt good enough or deserving and those voices (which are not really voices but rather more like a flavour of my internal world) just seemed to be telling me the truth.

I did a lot of things because I didn't think I was "worthy" or "good enough" and it is especially painful when one comparea one to others.

I don't have an answer for you. I will say that i have something similar when I am writing. I feel nothing is good enough and if someone does not like what I wrote? I feel like giving up forever. What's the point? I'll never be good enough, I'll never get published.

But then my best friend reminds me it has nothing to do with other people or whether what I write is good or not. I enjoy it and good or not, nothing makes me happier/sadder than creating stories.

I imagine Physics is the same for you; with its orderly and beautiful world of atoms and electrons and the certainties and uncertainty.

I hope you find it in you to finish the PhD. If only because you once thought it a good idea. Maybe you'll be the worst Physicist ever, maybe you'll be mediocre or maybe you'll be the next Einstein. You're not required to bring excellence to whatever you do. You just need to show up and do your best.

Hugs...
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rjckk
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#6
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Are you the thread starter?
(Original post by miheerdew)
This is very beautiful. Thank you.
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Mr Wednesday
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#7
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm just finishing up my first paper, and I got some comments on it from someone I really respect, who will be a co-author. There's so many things I've got to fix and I just feel like it's a terrible paper that's never going to be finished. I really can't see how I'm going to have a whole thesis in a year and a half's time.

A bit of practical advice, science is a really adversarial business. Many people imagine it's a neat, clean perfectly organised thing where all the parts click into place first time, but it's not. Writing a good paper takes lots of time and a many re-edits, and that's something that will continue for your entire career if you do it right. I just finished red inking a grant submission for a colleague who is a senior prof, I went after every last thing I could find, from minor grammatical errors to broad structural and scientific problems. He response was "great", that was exactly what I was after.

When you write a paper, you want your close colleagues to test it to destruction and beyond. Having it shredded, rebuilding it and going round the loop again is really the only way to get good at this. It can be painful the first few times to have the full weight and decades of experience of a senior academic turned on your work, but you will end up with a much better paper at the end, and something much more likely to do well when the journal sends it out to peer review.

So in summary, welcome all that red ink and those picky comments, it's not personal, this is how science gets done. Learn from them and you will find that experience flows into your thesis writing. Remember also that getting a paper put together and ready for submission gives you a great platform to build a thesis chapter around.
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