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The resilient side

a picture of the author wearing UV -Vis protective googles.

This post is long overdue.

In all this talking about PhD, I’ve left something else behind.

Like the imposter, this is one of the main points I want to discuss. Probably the most important skill I acquired as a PhD student.

Resilience.

The ability to start again if things go wrong, to not give up, to pull yourself together and reach your goal.

Because, if you think about it, what is a PhD if not a few years of mistakes that teach you to be a researcher? (Below, the instruments that daunted me)

an UV-vis photoreactor built during my PhD
taking a mass spectrometer apart
the optical table used during my PhD

Yes, mistakes are inevitable.

an image of the author in a mirror

They are the key to the research journey, but they are also very good at strengthening the imposter.

Because it’s easy to only see the failures. Instead, it takes much energy to understand that you’re still good at research, you’re still able to deliver results, and you’re still the brilliant person that got you where you are.

But once you can see it, you are back in power.

Not just that. Once you see it, you can look at what went wrong (you’ve got the analytic skills for that), put together the puzzle pieces, collect yourself and try again.

Until, at some point, you succeed.

Repeat this process for a few years (those required to finish your PhD), and you will master the resilience skill, one of the most powerful in your toolbox!

Don’t get me wrong!

This process is painful and traumatic. And I don’t wish it on anyone. We should rethink the way we do research and train PhDs. However, you have this skill now, and it will come in handy.

Have you learned to be resilient during your PhD?

Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad one? Let us know in the comments.

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