Saturday, May 12, 2012

thy rod and thy staff

Perhaps the existential crisis can be blamed on the catapult into winter, on not being ready for the cold, a lack of chickens in my life or a sudden change to working out of town for half the week ... but I realised today on chatting (whingeing) to a fellow student that expressing self-doubt with vocal regularity creates two distinct outcomes:
a) Nobody really feels sorry for you, because they know you are quite capable of clawing your way out.
b) Sooner or later you will get so sick of yourself that you give up saying "I can't do it" and just get on with the job.
For vindication of section b) please see section a).

MF sent me a link to "The Valley of Shit", after my winedark moan about the thesis blues. Here is an excerpt:

The Valley of Shit is that period of your PhD, however brief, when you lose perspective and therefore confidence and belief in yourself. There are a few signs you are entering into the Valley of Shit. You can start to think your whole project is misconceived or that you do not have the ability to do it justice. Or you might seriously question if what you have done is good enough and start feeling like everything you have discovered is obvious, boring and unimportant. As you walk deeper into the Valley of Shit it becomes more and more difficult to work and you start seriously entertaining thoughts of quitting.

In the meantime, thank fuck for bicycles, good friends and a boat with a motor that starts every morning.


  1. Keep going Sarah. Just keep going.

  2. Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!! After your rant and me giving you that link I am now in yet another 'valley of shit' myself! Not because I don't believe in my project or think it has some worth, but because the bloody goal posts seem to keep changing. I wonder if that is more specifically a problem with creative research, because it keeps evolving. I have to go against nature and STOP it evolving, take hold of it long enough to box it up and present this package to some nebulous body of examiners somewhere. It's all so surreal. When/if I EVER get that hard-copy exegesis in my hands, and see my paintings in the gallery - then it might all seem real.

  3. Thanks Ciaran.
    Oh dear Seashell! I'm actually starting to feel better now, so I think whingeing ( for short periods anyway) really helps. Go for it!

  4. Went back to the painting today. I figure I will let the restructuring of the thesis cook a bit longer in my head. Definitely making headway with the painting......though I have revisited one I thought was already finished! But I hated it the way it was, so it's a good move.

    Glad you are feeling better. I think there will be a few more valleys of shit yet to wade through for both of us.