An(other) Existential Crisis

The past Christmas holiday was a new experience. I stayed far away from my University emails. I stayed away from social media. I slowed life down and forced myself to embrace and enjoy doing, NOTHING – I made it a habit. I also took up knitting and drawing. I’ve found these incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. They’re such different activities from the day-to-day work flow which is dominated by my laptop.

I noticed changes in my behaviour and how I felt. After reading this article, I concluded I’m probably going through some minor quarter-century life crisis. It may have been initiated by the mental countdown in my head towards the end of my PhD. This October, 10 months away. I feel like I’ve achieved very little. I feel guilty but I also feel that it’s OK – loads of PhDs go through this. I’m worried, but also not worried.

To help me cope, I’ve found these things useful:

  • The School of Life videos: particularly the philosophy playlist
  • Writing blog posts – provides a slow-down and reflective experience
  • Work as a fun and productive distraction

Even one of my friends at lunch saying to me, “conference *sigh*, you’re way ahead of me” reminded me of how far I’ve come in the 2-3 years that separates us. I’ve realised it’s so easy to forget and appreciate how far you’ve taken yourself. It’s easy to become accustomed to the current situation, keep looking ahead, set your sights on bigger and better things and keep working on it. However, you can feel inadequate if little progress is being made, but it’s OK, there’s no good reason to feel bad. This is why it’s important to remind yourself of the past advances.

The past matters as much as the present and future.

It may have been the home environment. It’s peaceful, slow-paced and in the outer suburbs – almost countryside (house is surrounded by fields on the front and back). Also my dad, he’s not in the best of health and I know it affects me greatly.

I’m currently in Kyoto, Japan at the ISSS 2017 conference. The travel experience is great and the conference will distract me from such sometimes negative and regressive thoughts. Time to work.


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