July has been a crazy month, like every month since the beginning of this year. I have come to realise that the way I approach my life, especially my work life is a bit unhealthy because I have of my problem with anxiety. Since a very young age, my anxiety, my feeling of inadequacy and poor self-esteem made me work like crazy. It is very sad to say and I am not happy about the fact that the reason for my constant achievements is due to my anxiety. This is not what I want from my life anymore and I am trying to adopt more healthy and sustainable routines to achieve as much without constantly burning out, lacking sleep and relying on painkillers. And I don’t want to even get started about how bad this PhD affected my mental health.
First of all, one of the biggest events of this month was finishing the first draft of my thesis and sending it to my supervisor to get feedback. Honestly, I still struggle to realise that this was a huge achievement. I was so exhausted, emotionally drained, empty, tired, stressed that surviving this nightmare was more than enough. This is exactly what happens when you drag your mind and body beyond their limits. I forced myself to celebrate that night and be happy about the event. Unfortunately, this isn’t even the first time I experience this feeling of emptiness. I went through exactly the same emotions when I graduated from my master, my bachelor and pretty much after any exams I passed as part of my undergraduate programme in chemistry. Welcome to life with anxiety.
I was so exhausted, emotionally drained, empty, tired, stressed that surviving this nightmare was more than enough.
The day after finishing the draft, I took off and went to Austria for the European Symposium on Organic Chemistry. It was awesome. I had the change to meet friends who I graduated with at the University of Rome, meet loads the brilliant scientists of around the world and especially those whose names are in the bibliography of my thesis. I also presented my poster there and, for the first time, people actually congratulated me for the nice work I did. AMAZING! I enjoyed the nice weather and great food and got to stay 5 nights in a fancy hotel with a sauna!
Going to Austria made me realise how much I miss life in continental Europe. I think I never got used to the British lifestyle. I became a lonely and sad person, I don’t enjoy going out anymore and spend most of my time watching NetFlix, reading books and doing other only-me activities. I also started thinking that I was probably a boring person with nothing interesting to say and a flat life. I have never been this kind of person, I used to be social outgoing and staying in was never a thing for me. The turning point was spending a night out with some brilliant and talented scientists from Aarhus University who happened to stay in Vienna one more day like myself. I had fun, nice conversations, enjoyed their company, we drunk loads of beers too and it was like finding myself back again. It was awesome.
I had fun, nice conversations, enjoyed their company, we drunk loads of beers too and it was like finding myself back again. It was awesome.
I was reluctant to the idea of moving country after my PhD because I already did so 4 years ago and I wasn’t keen on the idea of putting all my stuff in a few boxes and start everything from scratch again. But, I don’t think I will ever be happy in the UK as much as I would be in continental Europe and this is why I made my decision to leave Nottingham in a few months. And frankly, I am also very unsatisfied with the job search and the salary expectation here. I have been rejected to any job that I was passionate to take which has made the decision to leave a bit more easier.
Finally, I want to conclude on a positive note. A few weeks ago, I launched my startup venture on social media consultancy. As my #phdlife is coming to an end, I have been long thinking about the future of my social media platforms. I created a strong and successful brand and I don’t want to lose everything because, in a few months, I won’t be able to share shots from the lab anymore. This is why I decided to launch my startup venture and go into social media consultancy. I’ll help PhD students to use social media for science communication and personal branding. It all started because people were asking me “how can I be like you?”, I don’t want anyone to be like me. Everyone is unique and what I would like to achieve is helping people to explore their own potential!
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MONTH
Podcast: Levelling up with Natalie Jill, Natalie interviews successful people who created multimillionaire companies from nothing. Most of her guests are people who overcame eating disorders, drug addictions, sexual abuses or had criminal records. It is a must a listen
Apps: I totally ditched Amazon audible and downloaded a new app called Scribs. The subscription price is the same, around £8 and you get access to loads of audiobook, traditional books, articles, magazines etc. I prefer to give my money to real people rather than make fat folks richer and richer.
PhD student-owned shop: shopmicrobi, it blows my mind to see fellow scientists getting entrepreneurial and combine science and business. At shopmicrobi, they create Petri dish-inspired keyrings.
Stay tuned, I am off to Italy to see my family from Aug 1st-14th.