Feeling lost

The Phd landscape

I am sure we have all felt lost and unsure. It is like being in a maze, surrounded by high hedges and not being able to see beyond. The only way forward is to try the path ahead, but then that gets confusing when it divides, and you have a choice. Then there are the dead ends, and you find yourself retreating to where you started.

Doing a PhD is very much like that. You start off and enter this academic maze, finding yourself down paths you never expected and discovering ologies you never knew. I began this journey with one word: playfulness. It has led me into the realms of neuroscience, sociology, psychology, philosophy, phenomenology and then I have to look at methodologies to test the theories and new ologies I have discovered. So, yes at times I feel lost.

It can feel lonely and confusing. I puzzle over words I have never seen before as if they are another language, one not even Google translate can help me with. After a while, the light is getting dim, I feel cold, and it is no longer fun. I want to get out of the maze. I want my money back. But I realise the only way to get of this maze, is to keep trying, keep following the unknown trail until I find an opening.

The lost key

But of course, there is another way of seeing this maze. If I look up, I realise there is a bigger picture. This lost key is only lost because it thinks it is. From high up, from a helicopter’s perspective for example, it is not lost, just disorientated. It is easy to see the way ahead from above. Right now, I feel like this little lost key. However, I must remember that other PhD adventurers have had to travel through their own mazes and have come through. So, I too, will find that unique pathway. Maybe I will find a tiny treasure that will contribute to the world of research proving the value of playfulness or maybe I won’t? But I will never know if I stay where I am. So, I press on, I keep looking, keep discovering, keep travelling down the paths that don’t seem to lead anywhere, until I find the gap I can squeeze through to take me somewhere. What that somewhere is, I do not know.

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