My life in grad school has been nothing short of a roller coaster. Some days I feel I am up to it, other days, I just fold that part of my life neatly and forget it on the shelf for days or weeks, even months. My Ph.D. journey has defied many odds according to the standards of "how to get a funded Ph.D. offer". It is a journey quite like no other, and it is proof of why you must put yourself in the driver's seat on this journey; if you are nursing a grad school dream abroad. From October 2022 till August 2023; I had pockets of incidents that had me questioning why I even wanted to do a Ph.D. in the first instance. It was a very dark and dry season in my life since moving to Canada but it made me a stronger person with a deeper resolve to get my life together.
I remember when one of my referees told me to clearly define my WHY because knowing my WHY would be my anchor through grad school. It would be the reason, I would keep pushing even when the tides are against me. And true to his words, being able to clearly define my WHY has been an anchor indeed because I tell you grad school will test you the very last shred of your nerve and it would seem like you have done nothing despite overworking your entire existence. One feedback on a written task and you feel like a dumbass. Imposter syndrome bites even harder.
On the side of defining my WHY; I made sure that my Ph.D. journey would not consume my life. After everything I read peak COVID pandemic on social media, stories about Ph.D. students who started questioning what else they had beyond their degrees as a wake-up call for those coming behind to learn transferrable and marketable skills. This was because people had time during the pandemic to review their lives and find deeper meaning in who they were. Those conversations changed my life long before I decided to move to a Ph.D. after my MSc at Uppsala University, Sweden.
Hence, when I finally moved to Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada to begin my Ph.D. journey, I knew, I needed to stretch my creative side, learn new skills, and explore the possibilities beyond being a Ph.D. student, a mom, a wife, a daughter.....I could be more and I was determined through the highs and lows to make my wildest dreams come true, first for me before inspiring others. I have learned to be more compassionate with myself, take breaks, be kinder to myself, and prioritize my needs (as the last 11 months have shown that everyone else (including those closest to you) would do the same for themselves and it is nothing personal..... it is just life, lifing.
This year has seen the worst of human behavior. It is been an absolute dumpster fire. A whole mess. We have seen adults behave like children and children attempting to be adults. Simple kitchen table arguments, unresolved childhood traumas, and effective propaganda machines have resulted in more humans perishing. There is no chill, little things trigger people and it seems we have more people roaming the streets with the baggage of unresolved issues. Sad cries for vengeance and karma in some parts of the world because you can no longer rely on even the Supreme Court to do right by the public but no one is coming to save anybody.
However, one must ask at this point what the "common good" means because no point in crying more than the bereaved when it comes to politics and human rights. As a Nigerian, it is a hard lesson to swallow when you see people wallowing in the worst forms of multidimensional poverty willing to defend a politician only because of tribe and religion.
You tune your TV to hear the headlines and it is the constant bombardment of negative news; a sense of doom, gloom, impatience, and hopelessness. Too many unexplained-bogus labels of people and issues further create room for even more exaggerated fear. A world divided against itself and you listen to conversations laced with eloquent grammar where evil is rationalized as long as the damage is assumed to be thousands of miles away. Money is tight but inflation is on the rise. The rich getting richer and the poor, keep going deeper and deeper into poverty. It feels as though we are not catching any break soon.
But as humans we keep going, we keep pushing to make sense of what our lives have become. I say the world needs more compassion for ourselves, so we can pass on that kindness to other humans. We must stop rationalizing evil because we think it is far from us. In our selfishness, we must extend the goodness in simple things to others because if we continue fueling this dumpster fire, we accelerate a planet headed for self-destruct.