Do you want to feel better about your PhD experience?

I heard someone share recently that she was feeling a lack of confidence because she didn’t succeed in her graduate school experience 10 years ago. 

She had always done well before graduate school.
But, in graduate school she didn’t do well.
She ended up leaving.
She made it mean there was something wrong with her.
Even though she has had a very successful career, she still thought she wasn’t good enough and lacked confidence in her life today.

This reminded me that the story we tell ourselves about our PhD matters today.

I quit my PhD.

When I first quit, even though I KNEW it was the right thing for me, 
I was worried about what others might think.
I thought I had done something wrong. 
That I had given up. That I had disappointed others.
In this story, I felt ashamed.
I avoided telling people about it. 
I did what shame fuels: hiding.

But there was another story inside me and it’s the one I choose to focus on now:

My Masters experience was hard, full of failure and a bit methodical and boring.

I decided to do my PhD because I wanted to explore whether #research was what I truly wanted.

In my first year, everything went very well 
– my research project was creating expected results
– my supervisor and labmates were kind, helpful and fun
– I had successful presentations and meetings with my committee.

That everything was going well, allowed me to see that I just wasn’t that into research.

I showed up and did the work because I was responsible, not because I was really into it.

If research had continued to be hard and full of failures, which so much of research is, I wouldn’t have been able to see that I didn’t even really like it when it was working.

When I saw a job posting where I could write about other people’s science, something clicked.
I told my supervisor I wanted to quit my PhD and pursue writing.
He was gracious and supportive.
I applied for the job.
I got it. 
I’ve never looked back.

When I tell this story, I feel courageous, proud and like a woman who knew what she wanted and went for it.

If you want to change your PhD story, here’s what you can do today:

1) Write down the story you currently tell yourself about your PhD. 
2) Pick out the facts (the parts that everyone would agree on i.e. not opinions)
3) Play around with the facts and write a story that serves you. Ask yourself, if your PhD experience was exactly right for you, what story could you tell about these facts?

It’s a bit trippy to do this work.
Your past only lives in the story you tell about it.
It really is up to you.

If your PhD experience is still weighing on you, I can help.

Email me at and let’s talk about what’s happening for you and we can see if you’d like to work together to let go and feel more free and fulfilled in your life.