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.

6 Replies to “PhD Chronicles: Part One”

  1. Awesome write-up! For a people person you seem to have been, this speaks the mind of an introvert me…lol.
    With a lot of emotional pressure from my lack of social skills, I also deleted all social apps and even left facebook (maybe that’s a little extreme… lol), decided to watch less TV and read more books.
    #FingersCrossed on where it leads.
    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol thank you I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Maybe you are just like me, an extroverted introvert cos I still feel like a people person.

      I deleted all those apps to force myself to talk to others (even when I don’t feel like it) instead of looking at my phone.

      I am interested in knowing how/where your journey leads to. Hope to hear from you soon.


  2. Thank you; good post; I became a student just now; on human factors and ergonomics and patient safety; stressful indeed; we discover ourself; keen to know how your’e doing; can I ask you, where do you get those pictures you post on those blogs? can I use them for my blogs; I am a urology surgeon; thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I google some of them and take pictures on my own. Of course you can use them.

      I am doing alright; everything is getting into gear, and I like this bit of self-discovery that comes with it. It can be depressing if you give in but the urge to continue and be better is stronger than the desire to quit and feel sad for myself.


  3. Wow congratulations on going back to school! I’m doing the same next year (a masters not a phD). I’ve always liked learning, so it will be very interesting to see how I come with being back in school after a decade of working.

    Liked by 1 person

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