I was trying to explain to someone today the feeling of impossibility that surrounds finishing this PhD.
It’s the feeling that no matter how much work I do, it will never be enough to check off all the boxes. It’s the feeling that there will never be enough time—except it’s not that, exactly. Everybody imagines that I must have so little time, as a parent, and that’s totally true, but time isn’t the limiting factor when it comes to research. The limiting factor is my ability to cope.
I can’t pull an all-nighter writing when I don’t know what to write. I can’t push hard for a week, because that will just leave me with another infinite pile of work inviting an infinite cycle of things I don’t want to do.
Grad school taught me not to set goals. I lost the ability to achieve self-imposed deadlines. My department’s deadlines have always been nonsense, unreal, the sort of thing to which people pay lip service but privately ignore.
I’ve seen the master plan with its step-by-step checklist fall apart too many times. I don’t know which direction to think. I don’t believe I can do it. And that’s a hard place to be.
Sorry folks—my mind hasn’t been on a happy level of late. Trying to cope. Trying to face the fear.