This PhD has been a very strange process. Incredibly long, and still going. Yep, labour pains were off the chart, any chart: incredible pain with no compare and no possible descriptor. And that was within a day. But, the dragged out niggling tension of this PhD process is – not as painful – but fucking stupid.
Because, of course, the outcomes and goals to focus on to get through the drawn-out tension all disappear.
I’m still in the stage of doing my revisions. Yes, I have a baby and housework and the admin of life and every now and then maybe I do some exercise or work on my business, but this stage has been very horrible in it’s own way. Many people have overtaken me and are done or graduating. Not that it’s about that, of course, but the mind will notice that.
I think the underlying depressing and disempowering nature of what happened with my examiner comments, one in particular, adds the biggest punch to this current state. Having no recourse, no response, to an abusive examiner is flattening.
Looking back, yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have had three supervisors with different ideas because maybe I have responded to that with trying to do surface bites of all of the different theories rather than one deep theoretical meal through the thesis. Maybe others with experience should have seen that that was happening. Maybe I should have actually had a stronger idea going in, or through it … but the mental health stuff/personality stuff/things that went on in my life/having three smart people giving their ideas meant that I pinballed between them. And that in some ways resulted in this thing that examiners have said needs a deep theoretical through line. Fair enough. The process of responding to the abusive examiner and me not having any direct voice or options in that was fucked, fucked, fucked though. How the hell is that the contemporary process? Bullshit.
So now I still have this response to the criticisms where I want to do little bites at a theory to make it go away, to get this thing done, cut this years years years long tension and get it out of my life. But that’s what got me here in the first place. So to really think about the theory and do an excellent or even ok thesis, to turn what I have into that … fuck. Who knows how long it would take. Long isn’t the thing. Well, it kind of is. And the measures of what is good theory or when I have written something that is deep or original or whatever … I have long ago experienced that this feels completely ad-hoc. When I get the response from a supervisor that, that was it, that was deep or original or biting or ‘it’ – this seems completely subjective and almost random. So I just keep stabbing at it, keep thinking, reading, re-writing. For fucking years. And yeah I could have made different decisions with my life, but I did the best at each junction of trauma, extremely low income, precarious work, relationship movements, fertility window, chronic physical conditions, fuck.
(So clearly there is also the internalised critic voice that gets reinforced by all this. Which I also keep in its place).
Just, look. This has been a weird process. Isolating and disempowering and very, very far from what an academic process is sold as. Yes, I have enjoyed a lot of my own intellectual process and interactions with my superiors and fellow PhD peeps and I have lots of love for those supporters, and, still, my topic (right?) but what a fucking monster.