PhD Chronicles: Part One

This year, I became a student again; went back to the University for a doctorate degree. And the journey has an interesting one, I must say.

I never envisaged that enormous stress and intrigue accompany the program. No pain, no gain right? Abeggi! The stress is on another level; it is nothing compared to anything I have been exposed to.

Prior to starting in January, I read a lot of articles on the mental health of PhD Students. I had always wondered why there were loads of articles on this but months down the line, I completely understand now.

I never thought that the PhD would end up being a dual degree – yes! it automatically comes with a degree in self understanding. I have come to understand that there are certain things about myself that I never thought and/or knew were there. Maybe these things have always been there and I turned a blind eye to them.

The first thing that I noticed was my apparent lack of social skills or conversation confidence. And I need this skill more than anything else to get to the level I am aiming for. Without this skill under my belt, I will not be able to charm/engage/learn from others, progress in my career, network, sweep the woman of my dreams off her feet, and most importantly, get ahead in life – become a billionaire dawg!

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene identified social intelligence as one of prerequisites for success and mastery in our individual endeavours. Without social intelligence, we lack the ability to read others, and thence misread their intentions and become emotionally drained by the endless political intrigues and battles. Without social intelligence, one won’t be able to sustain success attained because this involves consistent interaction with others to learn from them, network with them, and sometimes even be able to work well within a group or workplace.

This year, I have fallen out with a lot of people including my landlady, co-workers and housemates. And this triggered some self-reflection. When you fall out with a lot of people, something is amiss so I needed to identify and rectify it.

You see, the reason I never knew that I had this problem was the fact that I have always seen myself as a “people’s person“. I get along with people so easily and make so much effort not to be a nosy parker or have others up in my business (see my previous post on this). On my day, I can light up the room and make everyone laugh.

I questioned myself a lot this year and it didn’t help my case. Like many other PhD newbies, I struggled with the impostor syndrome, and it left me holding onto what’s left of my self confidence. This created self defeating thoughts in my head; that I am not good enough.

Unfortunately, this translated to other parts of my life without me even noticing it. I couldn’t get my research story across – and this made me feel completely inadequate. A friend and an ex, once told me that my self-confidence level was too high, and because of that I come of as arrogant, proud and condescending.

I couldn’t believe that there would ever come a time that I would feel this insecure about myself. I mean even in my weakness, I believed there was some sort of strength in there. Maybe, I was wrong.

But the first and most important step towards solving a problem is identifying the problem. So once I did, I set out to solve it. First thing I did was to delete all the social media apps on my phone (except whatsapp), turned to literature to know and sound more confident about my research, and talk to people randomly (about anything) on the bus, pubs/clubs, at work etc complimenting and hugging them along the way.

I am going to do this for the rest of the year and review how far I’ve gone and level of progress I’ve made after that. I will certainly share my chronicles with you as I go on this journey.

Wish me luck.

What do you think about social and conversation confidence? Do you have or lack it? Please leave a comment in the comment section.

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Much Ado About Sex

Scrolling through different social media platforms and watching people drop entertaining/funny freestyles to “for the dick/pussy” challenge, proved to me what I already know..our world is so obsessed with sex. And it is a bit out of control to say the least.

Sex is everywhere you go; there’s no escaping it. Everything is linked back to sex..the pictures, twerk videos, innuendos etc. Even when we are angry, one of the most common verbal expressions in the English language, “Fuck you!” subtly suggests sex. This makes me wonder if Oscar Wilde was right after all when he said, “Everything is about sex except sex, sex is about power.”

When I started blogging, one of the few pieces of advice I received was, “Dude, write about sex and relationships, that’s what people want to read about.” And he was right, blogs get more traffic when writers focus on such topics. Often, you hear people say that there’s more to life than sex/fun yet somehow they still join or follow the conversation.

The urge to join the conversation whenever the topic is about sex, love and relationships, is always there. Maybe because it is something we can all relate to. Maybe it is our deep craving to take a breather and relax our minds. Whatever it may be, sexual intimacy is at the core of our psychological needs.

Naturally, sex, love and affection are basic psychological needs (not wants) of every human being because we are biologically wired with hormones. These gonadal hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone), produced by the testes and ovaries, control brain chemistry and connections, and hence affect our emotions, mood and behaviour.

According to a scientist, Dr Daniel Amen, at the University of California, ‘enhancing oestrogen levels through regular sexual activity increases overall brain activity.’ Also, a recent study by German scientists has shown that brief viewing of pornography interferes with people’s working memory – the ability to pay attention and multi-task.

Either way, this alludes to us paying attention to what we feed our minds. The mind is so absorbent that it can soak up information from everything we do, see and hear: pictures, places, people, shows, movies, stories, ideas and opinions. What you feed your mind has a great impact on your brain capacity.

The brain has the capacity to create neural connections to your thoughts and experiences. So the mind can change the structure of your brain and relationships with others by creating patterns of the information it has absorbed. In the same vein, the brain can change the structure of the mind and relationships. And lastly, because we are tremendously influenced by others, relationships with others can change the mind and brain.

Feed your mind with empowering stuff. Cultivate relationships with people you can learn from. Value learning above everything. Hopefully, this will lead you to all the right moves in all the right places.

P.S. if you don’t like jokes about the genitalia, don’t bother watching the #FortheDick/Pussy” challenge videos.