Well, the weather has definitely improved recently. It feels like the turn in the weather has gone hand in hand with the change in the success of my research, so hopefully it will continue!
I have had some great news in the last week, as my supervisor has decided that we should move to publish the work that I have been doing in the lab. It feels like about time too, given that this is my third project in three years of my PhD, and none of the others have been successful. It’s really perked me up knowing that the work that I’m doing is actually useful and relevant enough that it will be seen by lots of other people, and could have an impact on other people’s research, or find a use somewhere else. So now it is time for me to take a step back, make a plan of action, and get everything done and sorted so that there is no excuse not to get the paper sent off as soon as possible. I’m very excited, as working as part of a team of 3, my work will actually make up a very large part of the paper. Unfortunately, as I did not come up with the project (a post-doc in our group made the initial discovery), my name will not be going first on the paper, but at least my name will be there, and I will know that I have contributed to something that should (touch wood), end up in a well-respected journal.
This has helped me realise again, that I work best when I have a goal to aim towards, and a plan laid out. Obviously, it has to be flexible, nothing in science is ever really straightforward, but at least it gives me something to go for, and then I can adjust it as I need to. I think otherwise the stress of trying to get everything together for the paper (and there is still a LOT to do!), would probably affect my confidence and my willpower and drive too. But having this plan laid out will make it a lot easier. Also, while I am feeling confident, I should take advantage of that and spend as much time as possible chatting to my supervisor about what needs to be done and how things are going, as I find that when I am feeling down about my work I tend to withdraw, keep it to myself, and not seek out help and advice, when it is most needed.
This week has also highlighted something that came up quite a lot in my mentoring. It became clear talking about how I felt about myself and viewed how good I was, that this determined mainly by my success at work. I had two clearly identified goals, getting my work published in a decent journal, and getting my thesis together and graduating from my PhD. I realised that I can’t just value myself by how well I do in something that is not entirely under my control: If the results don’t come together for whatever reason, which doesn’t have to be my fault, then I can’t blame myself for not getting a paper published, but this was something that I probably was doing, assuming that it must be my fault, and counting myself as a failure. I think that at this time it’s important for me to remember that just getting a paper published isn’t going to meet I’m a success, and that I shouldn’t judge myself just on this, and whilst I should be proud of myself, I need to learn to appreciate myself in general. I think I do that more now than I used to, but it’s definitely something I need to concentrate on, and learn to do. So hopefully, whilst being pleased that my work is finally paying dividends, I need to go on appreciating everything that I’ve got, realising that I have a lot going for me (I have the most wonderful girlfriend I could ever ask for, I’m healthy, hopefully people think I’m friendly and nice, and many more things!), and that at the end of the day, this is all one important step towards my PhD. I can’t let it define me, but it will certainly help me in future, and I should be grateful for that.