To go or stay on the path?
Since starting this PhD journey, I have asked myself several times whether or not I made the right choice. In my hearts of hearts, I know I am doing this for a reason, a purpose that sometimes I myself cannot fully articulate but one that I feel deep down in my bones. That purpose that speaks to me, gently whispering 'don't give up.'
When someone asks me what I do and I respond, only to have them follow up with, 'but do you have a real job', my heart literally plummets and I find myself back in that zone of 'why am I doing this again?' These back and forth conversations with myself have intensified, especially in the past year. The uncertainty of the job market for next-gen scholars (and jobs in general), which was already precarious has magnified. A few years ago, when I finally decided to fulfill that fire burning passion for 'research' and 'academia', I moved many miles to the school where I was accepted and had to resign my full time post, as my job was not fully sold on the concept of 'remote work' (interesting twist these days, eh). Many could not understand why I would 'willingly' give up a full time job with benefits in exchange for being a student. This, especially as an 'older black immigrant woman'.
When my thesis study project, which was in-person (behavioural observation, intervention) had to be tanked or should I say 'reframed', I was for lack of a better word, deeply 'depressed'. A year of preparation and finally having the 'higher powers that be' buy into my project all literally went down the drain. After feeling like I have been deliberately placed on the back burner too many times since starting my journey, coupled with that ongoing sense of no progress, then a total flat line by the pandemic, I often feel like 'packing it all in'.
A year into the pandemic, sometimes I feel like I have moved three paces back. Some days, it seems everyone else is moving forward and I am the only one at a standstill. Some days, it feels as if I am the only one who is moving that slowly. Some days, motivation is an elusive butterfly. The truth is, perhaps it is not all doom, but some days I cannot see the forest for the trees.
I am purposefully driven to water the soil to grow the seed that is already planted.