Week one – Mediocre expectations

First of all, I think it is important for to me to explain the position I am in, and how it came to be. Just this year I graduated with a 1st class honours degree from the University of Reading. My degree was in Nutrition and Food science and I had a year in industry between my 2nd and 3rd years. My expectation was to go into industry after my degree and nine-to-five-it until I had accumulated just enough resources to not have to do that anymore and sit around all day doing ‘whatever I wanted’, being perfectly mediocre, all the while imagining being rich and successful.
During my final year, I did my dissertation with (someone anonymous, we shall call C), looking at discolouration of lettuce. This was essentially a continuation of the work I had been doing on my placement. Towards the end of the project, C asked me what I was going to do when I left university, and if I wanted to do a PhD. My reaction was essentially ‘me?, but aren’t PhDs just for geniuses?’. Luckily for me, they are not just for ‘geniuses’, and a plethora of skills are required. Anyway, I’m not rich how could I afford it? I think I need to work.
Later in the year the idea of doing a PhD had been grinding on me and perhaps I could do it, otherwise, why would she ask? To speed up along the story, which I am getting bored of typing when I finished my degree I had two choices, a PhD fully funded and with a £17k a year salary or a job I liked paying £30k. I was quite conflicted myself, so I asked my family and friends, which had a 100% response rate of ‘PhD’. It was the best of times and the worst of times, I had miraculously got a win-win situation and it became a source of misery, in the end, I know you feel very bad for me, but it was a very strange situation.
When the time came that I had to decide, my mind was fully made up, maybe I should not go the mediocre route, and avoid becoming anonymous desk flesh for at least three more years. In the end, it was very easy to choose the PhD.
It was July, I had accepted the PhD, and was due to start in October. A new ultimatum, to job or not to job, the latter won out and I went into retirement. I have never been much of a good-little-consumer eating all the market has to offer, so I had enough saving to bridge the gap. So that is what I did, and to my surprise, didn’t really get bored. I filled my days doing all the things I didn’t feel I could do during my degree, as it would be procrastination, and I learnt loads of useful things, like how to solve a Rubix cube. I would recommend retirement as soon as possible, or at least financial freedom which is now one of my main goals, more on that at another time.
The bit where I actually start my PhD. Week one has mainly consisted of figuring how to structure my calendar and email, Microsoft’s new clutter feature hasn’t helped. Everything is now in sync, and I have a relatively large amount of training and inductions to attend. This is good news as I do not have any lab work planned; it breaks up the reading that has become my life, as does writing this.
What is my PhD in you ask? Food science, understanding freshness and quality etc. The end goal of the project is to have packaging that will better predict when the food is about to go off, and thus reduce waste. In the interest of reducing waste, I am going to end this now, I shall try and write one of these each week. I have left out pages and pages; the trip to Rome for example. I hope there are many mediocre free moments to come over the next 3-4 years.

P.S. I know the writing is pretty poor here, see ‘about this blog’ for an explanation.

Author: ljphd

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

10 thoughts on “Week one – Mediocre expectations”

  1. I’ve been peeking here and there at your blog and read your about me page today. I have a son who received his PhD a few years back so I had a front row seat watching him press on to his goal. I think you have made a good choice in retiring as this is more work than most would realize. And it’s a lot of reading. And writing. I assume the publish or perish motto stretches across the disciplines, so I think you are wise to write, even if it is this blog. It will help you. Practice makes better. Perfection is too lofty a goal! I enjoy your writing. I had never thought much about lettuce except I am a former Tupperware lady in my early days of raising children. Those lettuce keepers helped, but they are the dreaded plastic (even high grade). At least they aren’t disposable. Keep on posting.

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  2. An interesting read! I think that everyone can benefit from practising writing tbh. I have a couple of friends doing PhDs at the moment, and another who’s decided to drop her offer in favour of teaching, so this is all very topical for me right now!

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  3. We are our own worst critics, but I think someone must have rated your skills and intelligence very highly to offer you a fully-funded PhD … though I relate (I felt like a total fraud throughout mine, but still got it). x

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