Collective crises of confidence

Alison in Wonderland, Observant, Maastricht

I’ve been diverted by politics lately, so it’s time to get back to something I actually know about. Isolation, confusion, crises of confidence – the usual hallmarks of a PhD. The good news is, you’ll find a great deal of empathy among your fellow PhD students. Even those in completely different fields – in fact, especially them, because they aren’t competing for your supervisor’s attention, and will be less tempted to infect you with the latest strain of meningococcus from their lab. Consider the innocent lunchtime conversation starter, ‘What did you do this morning?’ Answer: ‘Spent the morning sobbing over my laptop.’ A normal, real-world response might be: ‘Awful! Are you ill? Did someone die?’ In PhD world, everyone simply nods knowingly and says, ‘I hear you. Spent all last week doing the same.’


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