Perfection is irrelevant.
We all strive for perfection to some extent. Some might want a perfectly clean house, others a perfectly worded thesis. It’s human to want a little control over something, and to want to be the best at something: to succeed in fulfilling our wishes for perfection. But it’s fallacy. Nothing in this world is perfect. And generally, lots will go wrong.
For all the PhDs out there who may feel downtrodden, a failure, and imperfect: it will be ok. You may not believe it now, you may think you will always fail, or not deserve your place on your course, but things do turn out ok in the end.
It’s not great to wake up each day and consider everything that could go wrong. We don’t need any more anxiety in our lives. But if there is a simmering nugget somewhere in that brain telling you that ‘we can work it out, whatever happens’, then it’s generally a good brain. Brain is on your side! Because you can work it out, whatever happens. There are terrible things that happen to us, and awful things we must deal with, sometimes daily, but humans are so resilient. Sometimes we need another human to remind us of that resilience, because we forget easily. That’s another human trait.
We can solve problems, we can get past this bump in the road, we just can.
I admit, it’s tough to change perspective on things. It’s really difficult to believe things will be ok, especially during the darkest times when experiencing difficult emotions. Even during a relatively harmless incident that induces that gentle bubble of anger beneath the surface, it is still difficult to imagine that things will change and be ok in the end. Benjamin Franklin once said that the only sure things in life were death and taxes, but I’d like to add ‘change’. Emotions tend to be all-consuming, but remember: emotions are weather. They’re like British weather – who knows what’s coming next. One sure thing is that it will change. We had a lovely couple of months sunning ourselves this year during summer, but it changed eventually. Just like you might be chugging along brilliantly with your work, everything going to plan, and then something happens, even just a delay in ethics, or something more major, like the loss of a friend, but it will change again, eventually. Your situation, your emotions, they will become something else, and you’ll be able to regain control of your life and set yourself back on track. Things may not be perfect, but at least they’re going somewhere, heading in the inevitable direction of more change (and death, obviously).
So go forth and let life happen! It’s going to screw you over in several ways by the end of the week anyway, so why not embrace it?
The heating’s not working in the office? Well daaaam, I always loved sitting in my coat anyway.
You gave me an iced Americano instead of a nice, comforting, warm one? Pah, I never wanted a drink anyway! (The morale of this story is to bring your own thermos of coffee 😉)
My car’s broken down for the fourth time? Never mind…I can sit here and survey those lovely fluffy clouds whilst listening to Ludovico Einaudi – bella! 🎶
Take care out there!
Emma Harrison is a doctoral researcher at Keele University.