Under Pressure

It’s been a (very) long while since I last updated my blog with a post. I have been feeling somewhat unmotivated recently (did I write this in my last post? oh dear). Academically, I felt a little lost – I was going along a path and didn’t know which way to turn, or even if I was going down the right path at all. I *thought* I had decided upon my research area, and my research questions, but something, just something was niggling away, something wasn’t quite right.

I was then hit upon by a deadline for a funding application – and although after a couple of previously unsuccessful full-funding applications  (I have been lucky enough to get a fees-paid bursary), I couldn’t let a deadline go by without submitting something. There really is a *very*, *very* slim chance of my application being successful – not because I’m really crap at sociology or Women’s Studies, but because a) competition is rife and b) competition is of a very high quality and c) my subject area is not really funding fodder. ANYWAY…

I have found, throughout my academic life, that I do work better under pressure. The deadline for the application was 28th April. On the 24th April, I was still unhappy with my research area and idea but was still unsure exactly why. So, with this in mind, I kind of decided not to do anything about the funding deadline. BUT WAIT….

On the evening of the 27th April, it struck me. I finally discovered why I was completely happy with my research topic. I re worked it in my head; I said a few ideas out-loud, and then I went to bed….

The 28th April arrived and I had a meeting booked for 3.30pm. I had the morning to write a 3-page, PhD-standard research proposal. Ok, I had several drafts of my previous research proposal, but my focus had changed. I needed to get writing, and thinking, and fast.

I managed to pull something resembling a research proposal together. So it’s not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, and to be honest, I am quite glad I didn’t spend days and days on it because as I said, the likelihood of me getting full funding is, slimmer than a slim thing. HOWEVER…

There was a positive in this process (or maybe even more than one).

I discovered I have a considerable talent for writing snappy thesis titles in a rush (I thought my last one was good, but this one?!); I work well under pressure and….

The added pressure, and a miracle from an unknown source, made me completely re-think my area, realise why I didn’t like my original subject and come up with SOMETHING THAT I LOVE AND AM MORE THAN HAPPY WITH – in the space of 24 hours.

So when I get that email telling me my funding application was unsuccessful, I won’t cry into my coffee, I won’t run down the street telling complete strangers how stupid and incapable I am. I will however, remember that this was in no way a futile exercise, but in fact the catalyst for my re-focus and subsequent re-motivation in my Doctorate.

Now I just hope my supervisor has the same enthusiasm for my idea…..

A blip and then a blog

Well, a little since my last blog (I haven’t quite got in to the habit of blogging regularly yet) and nothing *really* has moved on with my research or indeed my reading… oh dear.

I had a blip. I got an email saying that my application for the Uni Scholarship was unsuccessful. This didn’t surprise me really, although I got 87% at MA level, which I think is pretty good, compared to other applicants who have publications and conferences under their belts, I don’t have much to my name. So my hard slog continues – I am a mum, I work at least 3 days a week to pay the mortgage/bills etc (in a stressful job), I am an undergrad seminar tutor (which takes much more prep than ever imagined!) and in-amongst it all, a part-time PhD student. However, there are positives in all of this. I was awarded part-funding last year – my fees are paid by the University of Warwick, with the condition that I teach the under-grad seminar. This is great, I really couldn’t be studying without this grant and therefore I should be thankful for this – not everybody has this opportunity and I did well to be successful in this funding application. A PhD is what I *really* want to pursue; I love academia and after my MA was determined to continue my study at some point. This is what I am doing, and should be at least a little bit pleased with myself for doing this.

I had ‘the chat’ with my partner about giving up the studying and just working – money is tight and I am worried about not having the time to put into the PhD. If I’m going to do this, I want to do it well, not just ‘scrape by’ and end up with a PhD I know I could have done better. The conclusion to this conversation was that I would not have the funding opportunity again, and that I should stick with it – it’s where my heart lies and I would be so unhappy to give it up.

I then found THE MOST AMAZING BLOG.

http://illustratedwomen.wordpress.com

This blog is amazing for many reasons, but the two I will identify now are 1. a blog about being tattooed, and a woman… which doesn’t have to include sexually suggestive images of the lady or the ink gets my vote any day and 2. the author of the blog has already put into words many, many of the ‘issues’ I too have identified about being an inked woman and will be looking at from an academic level. AND it’s written incredibly well – intelligent, interesting and charming. It certainly inspired me to keep on with my ideas, have a little more faith in myself and my study.

I found it just in time 🙂