Lost: Motivation… Last Seen: 6 Months Ago

Once again I am struggling at work. I tried to keep these sad depressing posts of my blog, but since I’m trying everything not to work, I guess this one slipped through the nets of happy thoughts.

I was browsing through WordPress, hear what other PhD students have to say and complain about. How they handle with the lack of motivation. I assumed that after a few minutes of browsing, I would have some tips and tricks and be comforted by the fact that I am not alone. Instead, I am more than worried now.

There are posts about unruly library behaviour – I haven’t been in the library forever. There are posts about running out of reading material – I haven’t read anything in forever since I simply don’t feel like it. There are posts about the many travels and conferences – I haven’t been anywhere since my first trip, since my research hasn’t progressed in so long that I simply do not want to go give the same talk again. There are posts about working weekends as if it’s normal – I have and never will work during the weekend, because I do everything I can to get away from my research. There are posts about occasionally going into university but mostly working from home, libraries, cafes – I go into uni almost every day because I simply cannot get myself to work if my boss isn’t staring at me (which he is now, but since he sits opposite of me he can’t see my screen, so I’m hoping he thinks I’m writing some interesting stuff down).

If you are a PhD student yourself, you probably think I’m having the end of 3rd year blues. Nope. I’m still in my first year. Ow shit. It’s not that I don’t like my field. I’m a linguist and I’m still happy to be one. Languages have always fascinated me, especially how they are really not that different and how there may just be some universal patterns that can explain how languages do differ. My research just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Yeah I know, there’s only one person that can change that. But I’ve felt stuck like this for over 6 months now. Which means, my PhD went well for only the first few months of the 4-year project. I tried to subtly mention this to some of the colleagues, all of them way further in their careers than I am. (It doesn’t help that I am the only PhD student in the team and feel so inexperienced because I never know what they are talking about.) They suggested I just go back to reading. Leave the data aside, just read read read. But I like the data. Hands-on approach. Or at least I did like it, last time I was actually putting my hands on it. And reading takes me for-ev-er. It takes me weeks to finish a paper to then not know what it is about. Another thing that doesn’t seem to trouble any of the blogging PhDers I found.

I don’t know how to get out of this hole. This is supposed to be the opportunity of a life time, the dream job, a passion rather than work. Then why the hell have I been doing everything I can for the last 6 months to not work?

Is this the wrong job for me? Or are there ways to get me back on track? Where did my motivation go! Has anyone seen it? Maybe I should go check in the lost and found at uni.


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