A PhD is a massive undertaking. In the first four months, I have experienced doubt, unhappiness, anxiety and dread. But I have also experienced happiness, pride and satisfaction. I have definitely had days where I felt completely unqualified to be enrolled in a PhD, let alone the recipient of a scholarship (hello, imposter syndrome).

I realised yesterday, my feelings of anxiety weren’t necessarily about my own knowledge or skill level. Instead, they were stemming from my old friend, uncertainty. I have experienced many levels of uncertainty in the last four months. I was uncertain about research direction, reading, theory and more generally, what to do. This uncertainty paralysed me. I had some days where I did not get any work done. None, at all.

This to me was shameful. I felt like a failure. Why did I find it so hard to get started on work? The answer lay in the fact that I did not have a plan. The answer was that uncertainty scared me.


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