My Journey as PhD- The Importance of Perspective

My point of view on things, situations, people etc. is very personal and usually implicit. I am not always aware of my perspective on things, even though I try to reflect more – also because interpretative/qualitative researchers need to in their research.

However, developing the awareness of my perspective is not always easy, especially if it is entangled with some features of imposter syndrome. I’ve always tried to see the good and the positive in a situation that might be negative at first sight, and I think that I am relatively good at it- EXCEPT when it comes to my academic career and my PhD.

To give some context: I am part of several projects and I am supposed to “lead” an article (whatever the hell that might entail) and to present at two conferences soonish. I haven’t had focused supervision in months and I can tell you I have been PANICKING about this regularly. My perspective on this has been, that I have not made enough progress that my supervisors would want to spend time on my work. Well, I CHOSE to see it in that way.

Fast forward to today: I just had a talk with the PostDoc in one of my projects, and interestingly, she has a completely different perspective about these situations, which has dragged me down and made me anxious.

The PostDoc, however, had a completely different point of view: She told me she was impressed by my work and that it was obvious that my supervisors trusted me and my work in the projects. I was puzzled and surprised, but when she said these words, I also reconsidered my perspective on the supervision. Another possibility that I hadn’t considered was that my supervisors trust me and believe, that I make enough progress. Moreover, that I do not necessarily need supervision right now and that I will reach out when and if I need it.

Of course, I cannot know this for sure, but instead of focusing on my made-up lack of progress, I can also choose to believe that my supervisors trust me. Going for the second has immediately boosted my confidence massively and I feel as if I can trust myself a bit more. “I can do this” I can hear in my head now, instead of a critical voice whispering “You have no idea how to write this article or do the conference presentation….just do it later”. So far I have figured out how to do most in my life, so why not this too?

I did not expect a change of perspective to have such a massive impact, but it does! For me, it is sometimes not easy to see the alternatives, but they do help me to move forward without constantly doubting myself 🙂

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