Why submitting my thesis feels like a mountain to climb

Embarking on my Ph.D. journey has been a remarkable and transformative experience, but as the final chapters unfold, the process of submitting my thesis unexpectedly becomes a mental battleground.

If I find myself grappling with the mental hurdles of submitting my PhD thesis, I know that I'm not alone. Perfectionism often rears its head as I approach the submission of my PhD thesis. The fear of not meeting impossibly high standards can be paralysing. Every word, every sentence, every argument seems to be scrutinised under a microscope, leading to an unending cycle of revisions and self-doubt. I acknowledge that perfection is an elusive goal. I understand that my thesis represents a snapshot of my work at this point in time. I embrace the imperfections as a natural part of the academic process and remind myself that the pursuit of excellence is an ongoing journey.

Submitting my thesis means subjecting my work to evaluation and critique. It's natural to feel a sense of vulnerability during this process, as the anticipation of how my work will be received can be anxiety-inducing. I recognise that constructive feedback is an integral part of academic growth. I approach the evaluation as a learning experience, an opportunity to refine my work further, and a chance to engage in scholarly discourse. I shift my perspective from fear to curiosity about the insights my work might generate.

Imposter syndrome can intensify as I near the submission of my thesis. The nagging feeling that I don't deserve to be at this academic pinnacle can be overwhelming, casting a shadow over my achievements. I remind myself of the years of hard work, dedication, and intellectual growth that brought me to this point. I seek validation from mentors and peers who have seen my contributions. I embrace my unique perspective and acknowledge that imposter syndrome is a common experience among postgraduate students.

Submitting my thesis symbolises the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The uncertainty of what lies ahead can contribute to feelings of anxiety and hesitation. I shift my focus from the unknown to the exciting possibilities that await me. Whether it's entering academia, pursuing industry opportunities, or exploring other passions, the post-PhD phase is brimming with potential. I embrace the journey of discovery that lies ahead.

After submission, it's not uncommon to experience a sense of emptiness. The intense focus and structure of my PhD journey suddenly give way to a void. I will combat post-submission blues by taking time to celebrate my achievements. I acknowledge the resilience and dedication that brought me to this point. I engage in activities that bring me joy and fulfillment. I consider this phase as an opportunity for rejuvenation before embarking on my next adventure.

Submitting my thesis is undoubtedly a complex and emotional process. If I find myself entangled in the mental struggles surrounding submission, it's crucial to recognise and address these feelings. I seek support from my academic community, mentors, and mental health resources. I remember that my journey doesn't end with submission—it transforms into new beginnings, opportunities, and the promise of continued intellectual exploration. The mental struggles are part of the process, but they don't define the value of my work or the impact I've made.

Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, anxiety, mental health, mental wellbeing