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I had an email the other week, saying my annual review was imminent, which threw me a bit, as it suddenly dawned on me that I am almost a third of the way through my PhD.  Where has the time gone? What have I achieved? What have I learned?  What am I going to do afterwards?………….

In some ways, the time has gone by slowly, for example, it has taken ages to obtain ethical approval from the heath service, which I knew was a potential obstacle and could delay the commencement of data collection.  But after the work was done, the application submitted and came back with ‘favourable ethical opinion’ (the new buzz word for  ‘yes, everything is ok’) the stress levels decreased considerably, but the adrenaline has kicked in again and I’m now impatiently waiting for all the administration to be completed so I can commence data collection and analysis.  However, it is the summer, everyone associated (myself included) will be on holiday, thus I need to find another outlet for the adrenaline in the interim.

What have I achieved? Interesting…personally, I have learned a lot about myself. I’m far more determined than I thought I was, and I feel I have somehow pushed myself across some sort of invisible boundary in terms of personal growth, but I don’t know quite how to express it, however the quote from Rocky ‘it ain’t about how hard you can hit, its about how hard you can get it, and still move forward’ seems to encompass my feelings. Might have to save those thoughts for a future blog.

Academically, my skills have improved. I can see it in my writing, my ability to argue and ‘talk’ like an academic, the latter of which was confirmed by my supervisors at a meeting last week.  I know I still have a lot to learn, but as I stated a year ago, the balance between confidence and vulnerability seems to be leaning on the confidence side at the moment (and long may it last!), but it is a quiet, reflective confidence, which feels great and seems to grow in little, but solid steps.

What have I learned? More a case of what haven’t I learned, but it makes me want to learn more…..its a lovely feeling to be permanently curious, not taking things at face value, being prepared to question things and to be inspired to look at things differently.

What am I going to do afterwards?  More of the same I hope.  All of this seems to be a good fit.

Today I managed to use my initiative and tackle two outstanding things on my to-do list which has proved very liberating.  I feel as if I have been bogged down by administration and not done enough high level, conceptual thinking and writing, and have ended up with a bad case of writer’s block which I am desperate to overcome.  I know I’m tired, need a holiday (which is forthcoming) before launching into Year Two and it can’t come soon enough, but it would be great to get all the loose ends tied up before I go, so I can take some reading on holiday to do in my own time and chill out.  Tired, yes, but still full of enthusiasm and motivation, but would love to go on holiday having sorted out the writer’s block, but the only way to do that is to keep writing, until it becomes natural once again……….