I’ve applied for a PhD scholarship. In so many ways it ticks the right boxes for me. It is in an area which I am particularly passionate and interested: mental health, young people and technology and is with a highly recommended and accomplished supervisor.

As I didn’t do honours and my masters was course-based, the university department has requested I submit more information detailing my research experience and skills so that they can argue I am suited to the PhD (and will get a return on the investment, which seems very reasonable).

So I’ve been spending the last few days thinking about what to include in this document. Some things are no-brainers – such as the literature reviews I have undertaken on numerous work and university subjects. However, I worry that my relative inexperience in statistical analysis will be a barrier the university won’t see past.

Apart from concrete examples, how do I convey more esoteric qualities that may  make me a suitable candidate: determination, curiosity, communication skills, passion, not to mention willingness to learn? I wonder are these qualities taken into account in the application process (at least as much as stats ability, which are much more easy to acquire).

Preparing this document means putting aside my self-deprecating nature and acknowledging and celebrating the skills and experience I have acquired. This is hard. But I can’t help thinking this is an important lesson I need to learn before continuing on this journey.

Meanwhile I have been quite humbled at a number of amazing academics being willing to act as my referee. If they believe in me, perhaps I should believe in me too…


Getting back on the horse


I spent last night with a horrible migraine and was woken painfully early (at least for someone without young children) and, finding myself with a bit of time to enjoy my first coffee of the day while listening to the birds wake up (and my two little kittens run amok around the flat), I thought it was time to get back on the horse!

Getting back on the horse in a number of ways – including literally. I took up horse riding over a year ago. And found it so rewarding – challenging, engaging and satisfying. But I got discouraged and for reasons I can’t really fathom now,  decided to have a break! I’ve been missing it so much.

As with this blog, I’ve been in limbo with my PhD. Being at a new job, I’ve been trying to figure out if it is somewhere that will provide the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to mental health while also allowing me to grow and be challenged. The jury is still out on that, but I am more hopeful – and more confident.

I’m getting back on the horse with my PhD. It has never really gone far away, but is now off the back burner. A few key conversations recently have helped push me along. A colleague at work – a counsellor who is also studying to become a psychologist. One of the most skilled and enthusiastic shared his story with me – how he overcame extreme hardship and trauma from his childhood, and overcame a series of academic knock backs (which would have left me deflated and insecure) to be well on the way of reaching his goals – and living his life on his terms.

Maybe it’s time I started living my life on my terms a bit more.