PhD enrolment – anxiety and excitement

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Tomorrow I officially start my PhD with enrolment day, which means I have spent most of today fretting over a vast number of things I cannot find answers to.

Whilst reading today’s Observer New Review I read about journalist Scott Stossel and how his anxiety issues have plagued his professional and family life, and it got me thinking about my PhD anxieties, and how acknowledging them might help me to overcome them, so here goes:

I worry that….

I’m not clever enough to do a PhD
Nobody will care about what I have to say
My research will be flawed in some embarrassing way
I will have to do public speaking, and will be awful at it
I won’t get published
I will find it too hard to do whilst working full time and will get overly stressed
I will fail my viva

So, when I look at these concerns written down, I can see that many are reliant on other people and their opinions – something which I cannot control. I know that panicking about something out of my control is a ridiculous waste of mental energy , but it is still hard to stop myself. After some sage advice from a friend last week, I am going to try her CBT tip of recognising these negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones:

When I put my mind to it, I can achieve some great results
I do have interesting things to say and people enjoy having discussions with me
If I have faith in my work then others will respond d positively to it too, although criticism will happen, it can be useful and constructive
Public speaking is a challenge for me to work on and will be satisfying to achieve
I have professional experience in publishing and can use this to help me negotiate that part of my journey
I will learn to manage my time effectively and will ensure I take time out to relax
My viva is at least five years away – I refuse to fret over it y

There – I feel more positive already!

I would love to hear from other people on their PhD anxieties and how they tackle them – please feel free to comment.

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