Re-igniting the joy in my PhD
A spark of curiosity, a personal ambition and a desire to make a difference
That started my doctoral journey
A challenging day job, limited support, aging parents, aging myself!
These things threatened to wrap themselves around my ambition
My thirst to know more
Several years of training, thriving in the learning environment
Amazing support from inspirational, practical Professors
At times I felt I could take on the world
At others I felt I knew so little
Would I ever know enough to see this through!
Delight at passing milestones, receiving and accepting feedback
Sometimes tough to hear, always useful
Work became so hard, draining me, struggling to make the time needed
Family and friends kept me going,
And supervisors encouraging and cajoling when things were difficult.
A new job, amazing boss, fantastic team
Passionate about research
What can we do to help you do the best you can
What a difference
Now elated, I can do this.
Suddenly- all change, supervisors left, new team, different approach, new focus.
New direction on their suggestion
Struggling to make sense of the new ways, struggling to articulate my purpose
Defending my revised question – it didn’t feel authentic.
This isn’t right
No longer talking about this with the joy I always had
Is this just a glitch? Is it a symptom of the impact of the pandemic,
So many months behind closed doors shielding.
Asking the question of new supervisors – do you think I can do this?
No answer – now I’m ready to quit.
Not on my watch, my work colleague says
I can’t and won’t work in this way says I
Petulant at times, angry at others – I ‘d got so far
Now feeling sad that I won’t fulfil my ambition
My desire to make a difference
Not on my watch says a friend!
Think differently – why stay where you are
There are many more fish in the sea!
Moving Unis is not the done thing I am told
People here don’t transfer out of here I’m told – just watch me I think!
One email, a phone call, an explanation to an interested admissions office
An application in record time – an interview even quicker
A place offered and rapidly accepted
“We want to bring back the joy of learning for you.
What you are exploring is important, we think we can help guide you”
Welcomed on my 58th birthday, with cake and conversation
The Open University had been just that – open to accepting me and all my baggage
Open to doing things differently,
Helping me as an experienced practitioner bring my whole self to the programme
I started to feel that spark of joy again – too long absent
Original question valued by others, curiosity and challenge encouraged,
So back to the beginning, relearning those things previously told to forget
But the race is now on!
Twelve weeks until upgrade! A complete rethink, a complete rewrite in less than three months
But now wrapped in a cocoon of support, I think I can do this!
A fierce schedule, challenging deadlines, so much to do
But supervision sessions full of laughter, critical companionship and professional friendship too
Building my confidence back day by day, bringing me joy.
Rapid production, rapid turnaround, driven by knowing this is the right thing to do
I think I can do this!
The day is here, the upgrade viva, that thing that could be make or break for me
I think I’m ready but who knows?
I can’t get into the Teams meeting, I can’t share my slides once eventually in
I can’t understand that first question yet alone offer an articulate answer
But it’s all over quite quickly. Let’s wait and see.
Welcome back says the Chair of the panel
Recommending progression to PhD -congratulations
Oh my gosh I think and I think I said but can’t remember
Smiles all around. Useful comments about what else to think about
No corrections no amendments – I had only gone and done this.
The joy in learning has been returned to me
Joy enabled by friends and family who pushed me to to do the right thing
Joy enabled by an academic team who believe in me, and the importance of this study.
Joy which has kept my energy levels high on those early mornings and late nights
Joy which is here to stay.