Part of the process of studying at this level is gaining a great understanding and mastery of self, in a number of different ways. This can mean things like the skills that you will gain that are transferrable to other situations (e.g. research skills). It can also mean a greater understanding of what makes you as a person, tick, and gain more self-confidence and selfworth.

I think I wrote before that a request for communication support for a conference had been turned down last week. While that situation is still not resolved, I finally realised last night quite why that has affected me so badly (not helped by two nights of very bad, fitful sleep). It very much ties into imposter syndrome: when you’ve spent years quite convinced that at any moment the uni will write, regretfully, that a mistake was made, that you have to leave, anything that provides a setback plays into that. That is particularly the case with this, which is connected to my deafness. There is a very long history of deaf people being told that we cannot do things (we can’t read, we shouldn’t sign, as doing so makes us look like performing monkeys, and so on), and being told “no” in such a way really plays into that history. In addition, it comes at a time when I’m waiting to hear whether a journal will take my first article and when I’m trying to pull together a PhD proposal. Right now, I’m getting achingly close to being able to achieve my dreams. When you’ve spent so long, and worked so hard on, trying to achieve those dreams, the thought of actually not achieving them is incredibly threatening. I really cannot overemphasise that.

Understanding this is half the battle; I am now putting things into place to try to stop it having quite such an effect on me, including having the above picture on the wall above my computer. What also helps is that yesterday I received an email from a contact in Herefordshire, asking me to come and deliver an hour long talk on an aspect of my research into Leominster’s history at their AGM in November, to 60 people. This will be the first time I’ll have spoken this long and it was with a lot of trepidation this morning that I wrote the email accepting his offer. And yes, I have declared my deafness (although I think they knew already). There will be room for questions afterwards so I had to. I’ve given them two options, one fun and informal (and cheap!), the other costly and more formal. We’ll see which they go for.

So today has been taken up with admin this morning, chasing people for various things, and this afternoon I’ve been getting into civil war politics in Coward. Fun! One foot in front of the other and keep b*ggering on, as Churchill would say.

Sometimes its all you can do. Pick yourself up after the knock downs.. and.. keep b*ggering on. I should have that printed on a T-shirt!

just too hot

at 33*C…. its just too hot. I hope it cools down soon as it’s so difficult to maintain any kind of focus in this heat. I managed to get some notes done on the Coward book; I just need to press on with it.

On the plus side, I did pick up a new PhD-how-to book – 101 Top Tips for PhD Students by Professor Iain H. Woodhouse, available as a kindlebook from amazon (thanks to #DailyPhD‘s recommendation). I’ve not gotten very far through it at this point, but so far its very good, very easy to read and I’ll be able to plough through it quickly I think.  I’m realising the importance of planning – but not just planning. Its easy to say, for example, that for my PhD proposal I need to do some reading, to do a lit review of the material in my field, and that I need to write X number of words on this by the end of July. But this is actually really difficult to achieve because its not measurable, definable. How many books should I read? of what standard? How many articles? What is the aim of the lit review? Given I have just a month left to write it, I think its important that some decisions are made on this. I’m not sure an arbitrary number is a wise choice. I certainly have to include some form of bibliography with the proposal but they are looking for quality over quantity, so reading every single book/article going on the subject would not be smart. I think, too, that different reading patterns need to apply for different books. Books like Spaeth’s Church in an Age of Danger, since they so closey correlate to my proposed field of study, need more extensive reading than, say, J. A. Sharpe’s Early Modern England, and it may be smart to group them accordingly.

I had an email back from the conference organiser that I had contacted to ask about communication support. He made it very clear that they weren’t set up to arrange it but if I knew someone who could come along to interpret, that they would do what they could to facilitiate things – facilitiate being very vague! I’ve had some discussions with the disability support person at the uni, who has made it clear that in this case, and under the Equality Act, the onus is on the institution to sort out communication support, so I’ve written back to the conference organiser to explain that yes, I know interpreters, but they need paying, so… we’ll see what he says. Fingers crossed he writes back with a “no problem, organise it and send us the invoice”, but we’ll have to see.

I never did get that siesta, but since downstairs at home is very much cooler than upstairs (where my office is) I’m going to go downstairs with my new book and relax in the relative coolness … and hope the temperature drops tonight!

what the… where’s the day gone?

you know that moment when you suddenly realise you’re hungry and you look at the clock and are stunned at how late it is?

… yeah. that.

Today has been amazingly productive. I like days like today, where I feel like I’m getting somewhere and not just doing my hamster on a wheel impersonation. So far:

  • Read through, and made notes on, the sample CVs, cover letters and applications that were sent out to us as part of the preparation for the New History Lab workshop on Thursday;
  • Replied to an email sorting out a meeting on saturday;
  • Made some notes from a PhD how-to book – E.M. Phillips and D.S. Pugh, How to get a PhD: A handbook for Students and their Supervisors (5th edn, Maidenhead, 2010);
  • Contacted a conference organiser about getting communication support for a conference in November;
  • Applied for two jobs (temporary admin jobs for the summer);
  • Replied to a fellow academic whose research interests are sort of touching on mine;
  • Wrote a blog on yesterday’s exploits, and a blog on today’s accomplishments;
  • Created a poster for a friend who is setting up a website celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MA I’m doing, so that it can be publicised at an important lecture on Saturday;
  • Had lunch. late. very late!

Not bad. Not bad at all! Its now 5pm; I have to leave to collect my partner from the station at around 6.30pm, so in the remaining time, I’ve got to clean the bathroom and do the washing up. And then, if I get time, I can read more of the Coward book or the how-to book. That’s doable. I think!