I’ve started my PhD, and this is how my brain feels right now. In some ways, it’s good because it means I’m shifting something in how I’m operating, but it sure is a painful process. Let me explain.
I had the first PhD workshop on 22/23 May and the first PhD tutorial on 7 June. And I have to say I’m very happy…and excited. When I realised I had started my first PhD in 1998, I was just a tad dismayed because that was soooooo long ago. But I’ve never forgotten the promise I made to myself after I withdrew in 2001 – that I would finish my PhD. After my disastrous and ill-informed attempt to do the online doctorate at the University of Liverpool last year, I was apprehensive but had that gut feeling that the Swinburne program would be a good fit for me. It is. I feel like I’ve found my intellectual home for the next four years.
My topic integrates two passions – university management and the future. The backgrounds and skills of my two supervisors – Eddie Blass and Peter Haywood will give me the integration and support I need to make this happen. The folks in the cohort I’m with are really diverse and the conversation so far has been excellent – open, welcoming and challenging. And no rules defining what I can say when!
What has also been happening in my brain though, is a re-orientation or re-adaptation of some sort – that’s the painful bit. The letting go to let come as Theory U would have it. The health issues I have had over the past year have had me re-thinking my lifestyle and focusing on things that matter, not the things that – in the long term – don’t really matter. I’ve often said I don’t want my tombstone to read ‘she worked really hard’, and equally, I don’t want it to read something like ‘she had really clean bathrooms’ which I realised I’d been obsessing over (who me, a perfectionist?). It’s defining this new normal path, where I find myself after coming to terms with the reality of health frailties. That’s a work in progress, but I am seeing the value of the Buddhist principle of non-attachment!
It’s a nice place to be in though. My instinct is telling me I’m heading in the right direction and for me, that’s always a good sign. The PhD is almost signifying a starting point for me – it’s a signal I’ve started moving on, leaving the health stuff, the ill-fitting online doctorate, and the perfect bathrooms behind.