Is a PhD only learning about your niche of research?

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This morning I wanted to put together a list of things that I would like to do once I have finished my PhD. I started writing down travelling, going to a concert and this sort of stuff. Reading through, I just realised that none of this stuff is amazing things to do. They are just normal stuff. I actually don’t have to wait until the end of my PhD to do crazy things because I have been already living my best life.

I have been reflecting on this a lot recently. 5 years ago I was about to finish my master degree thinking that my life was useless and I didn’t have anything to offer to anyone rather than disappointing people. It was one of the darkest moment I had ever, I was at my heaviest and my mental health was a disaster. I didn’t have a purpose, I knew very little about myself and my ending goal was just to keep surviving. I would never ever imagined that I would become the person I am today. If 5 years ago you told me that I would achieve so much, I  probably wouldn’t believe that. I would have said “This can’t be me!”

I actually don’t have to wait until the end of my PhD to do crazy things because I have been already living my best life.

I don’t have any regret about my life, any experience either positive or negative is valuable as long as you learn from it. I only wish that I started investing in my personal development waay before starting my PhD.

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When was the turning point of my life? I made two big decisions, the first one was to lose weight and change my body shape. I have been the target of misogyny, stereotypes and bullism pretty much my whole life and I didn’t want that to happen to me any longer. Many might think that this is a bit oppositive to what I preach now. But at the time I didn’t have the confidence and tranquillity to accept myself and feel comfortable in my own skin.

I also decided to stop going to bars and pubs waisting my time and money. I decided to leave the teenager mentality of either you are/do like everyone else or you are out. I decided to leave behind all the toxic people in my life, those who didn’t add any value or made my life worse. Instead, I started blogging, science communication, being actively involved with society inside and outside the university. Taking such a decision wasn’t easy, as I found myself alone many times. I was hard to reach out to people because I didn’t have many people around me with similar interests.

Changing habits is hard but don’t be afraid to take a leap into the unknown. The best comes from it.

 

A PhD isn’t only learning about the little science you do in the lab. It can be much more than that. I lost count of all the op-ed articles I read, even on big-name journals such as Nature or Science, that encourage grad student to open their perspective and think outside the box. No matter which stage of your PhD you are at, it is never to late to pivot and make the smart decision and living your best life.

Thanks to my friend the Young Scientist for great inspo.