The rhythm of a phD
Sometimes I wish I was a musician. Then I would be able to explain in fancy academic language the frantic waiting game that is the PhD. Unfortunately I am an educator with a history of working with very young children, so my metaphor is of a children’s game called Red Light, Green Light, or even better, What time is it Mr. Wolf?, or maybe Mother, May I. These games involves a whole group of kids lined up in a horizontal line, calling out in unison, “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” or “Mother, mother, may I take a step?” The mother one is a good one because the educator, or the child in charge, gets to answer, “yes, one giant step forward” or “10 tiny steps backwards.” At some point all the children rush frantically towards or away from the Mother/wolf/traffic light/whatever, who has to tag one of them, and then it all starts again.
My phD kinda feels like that. I work frantically, I send in a draft. I wait. I breathe. I get feedback. The feedback makes me realize how much work I need to do, when I thought those chapters were almost done. I work frantically. I send it in again. I wait… and so forth. I like the waiting, because the frantic working would be insane without the forced breaks. Actually, all of academia is like this. Submit a paper, wait, revise like mad, submit again, wait again, revise again. Submit a conference proposal. Wait. Get accepted. Write the paper, put together the presentation. Submit the next proposal, wait…Maybe this is why we always end up taking on too much, because we need something to do other than wait. The problem is everything always comes back all at once. Add the teaching, and I want a vacation. And I haven’t even started collecting data yet!