PhD Chronicles: Part II

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It is often said that scientists are all serious, intelligent and no fun but I beg to differ. I love to laugh and have a good time. A friend once told me, ‘I am not sure you’d stay in science after this. You are always happy…scientists are often doom and gloom.’

I do understand why many feel this way. Scientists sometimes over-complicate things in an attempt to display their intelligence. Some write and talk in a certain way that confuses the general public with their use of ambiguous words but in reality Emeka, Funke and Musa can’t be bothered at all. This makes them come off as condescending; ‘shoving’ their opinions down on people’s throats (peep the Climate change debate).

However, science does not have to be boring. It can be simplified and infused into so many things, especially arts – music. This will impact the lives of the target audience for the better. If you want people to understand things like climate change, infuse it into things that will impact their lives – not necessarily scare them. We lose the audience when we try to get too technical and complex.

No one likes a ‘know it all’ and you do not have to talk like a genius to be seen as intelligent. In fact, you portray your ingenuity when you keep things simple. Problem-solving is an integral part of science as things do not go according to plan most of the time. Sometimes, you have to improvise and end up solving the most difficult problems with the simplest solutions.

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” C. W. Ceran

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

Most of the world’s most difficult problems have been solved with the simplest solutions. For example, erectile dysfunction was solved by a simple solution called Viagra, which was initially intended to solve cardiovascular issues. Instead, the men ended up with longstanding erections.

Due to this reason, I try as much as possible to work hard and definitely play harder via music. We are all in pursuit of happiness so it is important to enjoy every bit of the process. Just like Albert Einstein, unarguably the world’s most famous scientist that ever lived, I see my life in terms of music and live my daydreams in music.

I must admit that my taste in music is quite different from that of Einstein. He was more into violin and classical music, which have been linked to better concentration and meditation. He was able to exhibit the synergies between science and music. This inspired the creation of the Oxford May Music festival, an event that showcases the link between both worlds.

How do we expect to solve the world’s health and scientific problems by living a ‘secluded’ life surrounded by like minds? The simplest solutions we seek are out there so go out, expose yourself to different worlds and have fun with different kinds of people. Then go back to the lab and try to imbibe these experiences into your science and its communication. That way, our work will be more beneficial to the general public.

 

 

 

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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.