I don’t know about other people but for me, asking for help is one of the most difficult things ever. I think it might be pride or that the people who have the ability to help look intimidating and then there is that other thing: “at your level you should…”.
Ever sent someone a piece of writing and the opening sentence in their feedback is “At your level I expected” or “At your level you should be able to…” You see, I have had that a lot and it hurts. It makes me question everything about the path I have chosen: “Am I really going to make it in academia? What am I doing here? Am I not setting myself up for failure” and more than anything else, it really just makes me feel stupid. Then all those insecurities about English being my second language kick in and I just spend days miserable and feeling inadequate (It escalates very quickly!). So now it takes forever for me to ask for help, especially when I really need it. Before I ask for help I constantly stress about “have a I done enough for someone at my level”, “but really, maybe at my level, I should be able to complete this section of the proposal on my own”.
But there is hope. After over a month of trying to put together a literature review, I’ve decided to ask for help. I realised that I’m driving myself crazy and not getting anywhere with the work I need to do. I have spent so much time reading about how to write a literature review ‘at my level’ and hardly spent any time actually working on it. And when I did work on it, I spent the next stay deleting most of what I had written (what a painful process). So I visited the university writing centre and signed up for the ‘Developing Writers Programme’. I have my first consultation tomorrow to work out schedules and talk about issues we need to work on. I guess I will see how it goes but I am hopeful. At least I asked for help and right now that feels like a big important step for me.
This PhD journey does not look like it will be an easy one. The expectations are high, the insecurities are high, emotions are super high… It’s too personal. But hey, I’m here now, this is my passion and I’m not leaving this university without my PhD!