Doing a research higher degree (RHD), either a Masters or PhD, is like pregnancy and childbirth. A very long pregnancy, admittedly, but there are a lot of similarities. A while ago, Emma Jane, on The Punch, summed up those similarities really well and called a PhD “childbirth for the brain”: both are “mind-meltingly, stomach-churningly, sleep-deprivingly difficult.”
This idea was brought home strongly when I had a Twitter conversation with a couple of friends who are millimetres from the end of their RHD gestation and a non-conversation with another friend who had a beautiful little girl at the end of December.
I didn’t call my pregnant friend because I remember how torturous those phone calls were when my first baby decided to make an appearance four days after her due date.
My first baby was due on Easter Saturday and everyone went away over the Easter break so late on Easter Monday, the phone calls started from loving family and friends. I had the same conversation over and over: no, I haven’t had the baby yet … yes, I’m still here … yes, the baby’s late … Aaaaaaaagh!!!
So, I didn’t call my pregnant friend.
But, unthinkingly, at the end of a twitter conversation, I sent this out:
“BTW how’s your thesising going?”
Understandably, a few of my RHD friends jumped on that comment, calling me insensitive and thoughtless. Tongue-in-cheek of course (they know I wouldn’t deliberately provoke them), but there is an underlying truth in that accusation.
The final six months of an RHD is freaking bloody hard and there is so much pressure on you to finish from the Uni, from family and friends who don’t understand the process, but most of all from yourself, that you don’t need someone who should know better to add to the angst.
So I’m blowing kisses and sending positive thoughts and a heartfelt apology to my Twitter friends who are finding the RHD process painful.
Like my friend with her little treasure, there is a beautiful baby at the end of it and it is very worth the pain xx
Haha. Thanks Janet. I hope we didn’t scare you too much 😀 I know you weren’t being anything other than lovely and supportive.
It is such a difficult time and you’re right about the dramatic increase in people asking the same question over and over. It gets pretty tedious. Plus there are others who sigh and say ‘you’re STILL doing it?’ or ‘I knew you wouldn’t finish in time’. Totally helpful.
Believe me, everyone will know when I’m done. I will shout it from the rooftops.