When ‘life’ happens

Annnd we’re back! Hello again everyone! Did you miss me? I missed you. It has certainly been a minute, so let me explain.

Have you ever had one of those days where it just feels like life piles and piles things on you and you make zero progress forward? How about one of those weeks? Months? The whole summer maybe…?

This is my first PhD summer and after a doozy of a year, I fully intended to make the most of it, to-do list at the ready. My supervisory meeting at the start of the summer went great, I had a list of things to accomplish and was ready to hit the ground running. Life, of course, was not ready to hit the ground running with me, however. And so began the summer of one thing happening after another, resulting in my most unproductive (academically speaking) summer since I was 15.

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And even then I spent the summer deciding where I wanted to go for my undergrad (the College of Charleston!!)

The beginning of the summer was grand. I had a short contracted academic job, my first publication edits to go through, was in the process of wrapping up my job as a part-time barista in favour of this blogging job and GTA work I had just been hired for, and most things for my wedding at the end of the summer seemed well in hand. I had a huge to-do list, but as PhD students, when don’t we?

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Someone was SO OVER hearing my complaints over all the things I needed to get done!

Then July came around and I got my surgery date (the second in a period of 6-months) for Endometriosis, which I knew would put me out of commission for some time. The clock was ticking in my ears every night, and instead of rushing me into productivity, it terrified me into standing still. I felt physically ill, and mentally incapable of making progress in any aspect of my academic life. My surgery fell at a really inconvenient time- a few weeks before my fiancé and my mother flew over for the wedding, and a week after my best friend went way on holiday, so no one was really around or even in-country. In the end, my soon-to-be-mother-in-law had the honour (HA!) of putting up with my heavily medicated, needy self for a period of time until I could get out of bed on my own. It was really hard for me to say ‘yes’ to the generous offers of help and visitation requests after the surgery, but what I didn’t realise was that I needed that help and those kind offers. They kept me sane when I was spending hours in my own head being frustrated that I couldn’t string sentences together in the haze of medication, or read the many books I was trying to get through over the summer.

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Snapchat filters make hospital selfie’s a thing, right?

After the surgery I did start to feel surprisingly better, much better than I had after my last surgery anyway which was a huge relief with my wedding being less than 4 weeks away. The time between my surgery and my wedding was quite the blur. My flat needed roofing works over the wedding. There were a few minor disasters with the wedding itself that needed dealt with. There was stress over the marriage paperwork. Suppliers needed information from me. The list went on and on and as family and friends began arriving, my sad untouched PhD to-do list got overlooked in favour of the wedding to-do list. At some point I let myself be okay with this. I’m not sure if it was the return of my fiancé after 6 months apart, or the approval from my colleagues here giving me leave to take advantage of this important milestone in my life, but something in me finally snapped and said enough, enjoy this.

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We called in all the favours we could for our DIY wedding!

I got married on the 24th of August, and I can honestly say the stress over this past year of planning, the anxiety leading up to it, and my fears with where I stand with my PhD and with everything else did not matter in that moment. I had the best day with the man I love, and I am so glad I didn’t let my own fears get in the way of that experience. I am so lucky to have had the support of my friends, my family, my mentors and my colleagues that made that possible for me.

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It was all worth it!

There were a lot of ‘life’ things this summer, which we normally say with some frustration and anger and even fear over what that means for our PhD and its progress. However, not all the life things are bad, and you shouldn’t put them off or not enjoy them happening just because you’re in the process of getting a doctorate. I always said I wanted to be a Dr. before I became a Mrs. but I realise now that mindset was all wrong. There is no right or wrong way to order the events in your life, you can only roll with them as they come along. I would not have changed my wedding for the world, I would not have even changed when in my life it happened despite the stress surrounding it this past year. I am so relieved that I can now step back and think wow…now that that’s done, what can I do with all this time??

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I’m normally terrified of horses, but this one was lovely!

My thanks to everyone over this summer who has patiently dealt with delayed emails, moved deadlines, and a multitude of emails starting with first off, my sincere apologies for… Here’s to the start of a new academic year, I can’t wait to hear what everyone has going on in their academic life, and otherwise! If you have a story to share about your triumphs and challenges on the road to the PhD, or some aspect of your research you would like some exposure for, please reach out! We are always looking for guest bloggers!

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And so the adventure begins.

We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with Brittnee via email at b.leysen.1@research.gla.ac.uk or connect with the blog on Twitter

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