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The insecurities of a PhD student | by Dru Dodd
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The insecurities of a PhD student

This is consuming me

Am I good enough?

How long will this take?

Places you have come to fear the most

Can I get through?

Do I need this?

Can I keep going?

Does this even mean anything?

Am I a failure?

I've lost my way

Can I reach the summit?

What will the view be like when I get there?


What do they expect of me?

Time well spent?

Do I enjoy this?

Will I finish this?

Am I clever enough?


No way out

Running out of time

I need more data

Day by day

Step by step

Brick by brick

Piece by piece

Where's this road taking me?

I'm not the same person who went into this

Where will I go next?



I started my PhD in 2008, by mid 2010 I was really stuggling, with my studies, with my self confidence, with my mind and with my life. I wanted to quit. I wanted to just walk away. I decided to just get loads and loads of post-it notes and flush my mind out. Write down anything and everything that came to mind over the course of a week. It started with a question mark and spiralled out from there. The photo of me in the background is from 2012, just as I was about to give a presentation on my work at an international conference in Barcelona.


Well this week I completed my PhD, thousands of hours and thousands of words later and it's all over. The post-it note "What will the view be like when I get there" sticks in my mind as I write this, I don't know if relief has a visual aspect but if it did then that's all I can see right now.


If anyone who is currently doing a PhD finds this photograph then no doubt you are feeling the same as I did, or you will do at some point. My advice is come to terms with your demons and insecurities, don't let them fester in the back of your mind, admit to yourself what they are, and then you can tackle them head on. Dig in, and don't surrender your ground, fight it out and prove to yourself that you're capable. No one else matters, this is your battle, your title and it's no one's business but your own. You can do it, just like I did it.


"The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get."

John Rohn

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Taken on October 16, 2010