I QUIT MY PHD!

…AND I FEEL GREAT! If you follow me on Twitter then you’ve probably heard the rumours . I officially withdrew from my PhD last week!

2013-07-12 15.46.30

(Here is how happy am I about this decision!)

I know that I’ve talked a lot about how mental health issues in no way prevent us from being good enough and smart enough and dedicated enough to complete a PhD. I still believe this. I really do. But I also think that right now, at this time in my life, this project in this department is not for me. I hope you’ll all understand and support me in this decision. I want to talk about it here because I want other students in my position to know that it is totally OK to leave a PhD. There is nothing shameful in walking away from a situation which is not good for you or your health. I am refusing to slink away from this with tail between my legs. I am happy with this decision and I am proud of myself for making it.

I came to this realisation during our annual student residential which, ironically, was meant to help me get back into my PhD! I had a great time at the residential, helped no end by the hotel upgrading my room to the fanciest suite ever!

2014-02-25 18.01.00-1(Seriously so fancy. This was my bath!)

So I had a lot of fun catching up with my PhD pals, hanging out in the jacuzzi, participating in discussions about student-supervisor relationships and discovering that I am almost entirely wrong about my own personality type. However, looking around the room at my friends and colleagues, many of whom are in the final year of their PhDs, I realised that they all looked kind of knackered. Much of our talk centred around the all-consuming nature of a PhD and I suddenly realised that I didn’t believe it was worth it. For this project, right now, I don’t believe it’s worth making myself ill over.

Of course I’m sad to be leaving my PhD and yes, at times I feel like a complete and utter failure and I realise how much self confidence and self belief I have lost over the last year and a half and actually how damaging some of the issues around my time off have been. However, my overwhelming feeling is relief. It’s definitely a scary feeling to have no idea what I’m going to do next but I’m feeling pretty hopeful. I can do anything I want to do now!

I wish I had the words to say how supportive you have all been and how thankful I am for every single person who has read this blog, contributed a post, sent me a message on twitter. You’re all amazing. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the blog, but it’s going to come with me on a wonderful adventure into unemployment and I hope you’ll all come along. There will be one more PhD advice related post because it has some contributions from other people in it and I don’t want their hard work to go to waste. I have lots of ideas for posts about how to hide that you are mad as a bag of cats in an interview (and what to wear), how to make it sound like quitting a PhD is a good thing and updates on Adventures in Mindfulness. In the meantime, please do check out PhDisabled and The New Academic for all your academic mental health needs!

Well gang, I hope you’ll all wish me well in my undefined and frankly terrifying future. If you happen to know anyone who is looking for a genetics/teaching assistant/public engagement/science communication/communication assistant or intern, please do keep me in mind. 

Love all y’all!

Jessica

 

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7 responses to “I QUIT MY PHD!

  1. Heyyy, congratulations on making such an important decision! Hold your head up high and go forth and kick ass at whatever you end up doing next. It required courage, realistic analysis of the pros and cons and active decision making, which are all good skills to have. 🙂
    Because you’re right, sacrificing your health for a PhD project and group you’re not keen on are not worth it.

  2. Glad to hear you’ve been able to come to a decision that suits you! People leave jobs all the time and move onto new things because it’s not for them – why is a PhD any different? Please know that you writing this blog has been a great help (definitely to me and I’m sure to many others). Good luck with whatever you end up doing next! Also we should get a coffee sometime when I’m back in your neck of the woods.

  3. 100% supporting you and rooting for you over here! Congratulations on the big decision! Not only should you not be ashamed, you should be PROUD to be able to say “Things were complicated, I thought hard, and I made the difficult but correct choice.” I’m looking forward to hearing about your continuing adventures.

  4. Welcome to the club! I’m nearly one year post-phd-quitting and I can imagine how you’re feeling! I quit mine for similar reasons – it simply wasn’t worth it for how awful it was making me feel all the time. Congratulations on making the decision, it’s a huge and extremely difficult one to make. I know it took me probably 3.5 years of crappiness before I was able to make the decision to quit. Right now I’m in a similar situation to you, unemployed and job hunting with a conspicuous 5 year period I somehow have to explain! Good luck 🙂

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