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.

Published by Louis

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

32 thoughts on “Week one – Mediocre expectations

    1. Hi Louis…Your writing flows easily and you are revealing your heart and passion for life. It is not how correct or perfect your writing is but it is all about bringing your thoughts and knowledge to the people who will be interested in your topics. Continue writing and do not think that you are not good enough….you are great just great!


      1. I follow his blog since the beginning and I couldn’t agree more! This blog was what I intended for my blog, a documentation that showcases my writing progress. He has done it so much better than I. And he’s not even calling himself a writer. Have you checked the other posts? He could make a good investigative journalist in my opinion. ^^


  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.

    Liked by 2 people

  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!


  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

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see why you thought your writing was pretty poor back then (although, believe me, I’ve read worse in published stories). I agree with you about how much your posts have improved since, and I wish I had your courage to post the early ones without editing I don’t think I’m capable of reading my own work without wanting to change something). But what does come through is your ‘voice’. This is a concept that can get buried by pressure to observe ‘the rules’.
    I took up fiction writing on retirement (at 61, sadly) and I read a lot of advice… some good, some not so good, I started by trying to brush up and apply ‘the ‘rules’ that I’d forgotten since my school essays. Only now am I building the confidence to ignore those rules that don’t fit what I’m writing.
    By all means work on punctuation, grammar, English usage and any other concept you come across, but don’t let the language police smother your voice

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It is said that a distinct benefit of writing is that it forces us to think. It is thought that some of us did not actually known our conclusions of any particular subject until we begin to set down our thoughts on paper. Interest blog. Thank you for visiting my site and “liking” one of my posts.


  6. Louis,

    I imagine you must have learnt a lot in Rome about the quality of food and its freshness.

    Especially as compared to much of the United Kingdom [and indeed Australia].

    It was either Eric or Quincy who sent me here.

    Really appreciated the reminder that PhDs are not only for genii!

    And I thought your tagline was … genius!


  7. Good luck with both PhD and writing, Louis! I, too, was a scientist by training, and only started writing fiction when I had an extended period of redundancy in 2003.


  8. Louis, I’ve only just started reading your blog and already you’ve caught my attention and I only discovered you because you liked one of my blogs. But more than that Louis…you’ve just opened a door to a whole new world because I can see from the people liking your posts that there is a whole community out there that I never even knew existed! Is the discolouration of lettuce what makes it go limp? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The thing about writing is that the best way to learn is by doing. And you’re doing it. So keep it up! 🙂

    I’ll also add that making your writing public is an act of bravery. Every writer worries about whether others will like/get what they’re trying to say. So, take heart! You’re doing fine!

    Liked by 2 people

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