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Wasting my Time

So was doing my PhD (and more specifically when and where I did it) the biggest mistake of my life? Right now I'm inclined to say probably.

Partly because I've been stuck at home working on it for nearly two months now. Partly because I find myself soon to be 29, PhD-less, essentially unemployed, broke, single and living with my Mum. Oh and my car started making a funny noise this morning, which is unrelated but also fairly rubbish.

Now I know it was my decision. I know I got myself into this mess. But doing a PhD was the one consistent 'dream' I had. It was also the thing I thought I could be good at. And I am quite good, I think. Independent input at conferences and from colleagues I trust tells me so, but I can't help thinking I could have been better. I could have been better if I'd been able to choose the right place to do my PhD. If I'd been able to concentrate fully on it rather than running around trying to get by financially as a self funded student.

I'll lay it out: I should never have done my PhD at the University I'm at. I lay the blame at my feet partially, but also at theirs. They shouldn't have taken me. They didn't have a department to support or a suitable set of supervisors and I've been disadvantaged by that. I also didn't have much choice, I was offered teaching work that would support me and in working there could stay at home and therefore save a big chunk of living expenses (Particularly as my main other options were the obscenely expensive Sussex and London, and yes I had offers from prestigious Universities with actual experts in my chosen field) sadly as someone who comes from no money whatsoever and who doesn't come from a family who knows how to work systems and get what they want, I had no options.

So the place to do it was a mistake. So as a result was doing the PhD.

Not that my options were that great before. I'd spent two years doing jobs I hated in the hope I'd get a foot on the ladder of an actual career. No matter how hard I tried (or begged) nothing seemed to stick. The closet I got was stripping the male chorus at the Welsh National Opera, and as much fun as that was it wasn't really going anywhere. So I gave in and trained as a teacher. I hated it. I have never been so miserable in my life. So I renewed my resolve to chase after what I really wanted, and for once I found people willing to help me and point me in the right direction. Sadly the final direction I got pointed in was this one and three years on I know it was a bigger mistake than teaching.

I've worked really hard, I've done everything I know how to and more. I've been a good teacher, I've learned a lot from some excellent colleagues. I've spoken at conferences and had papers and chapters published. But it's all apparently still so not enough.

So at nearly 29 I have 80, 0000 words of PhD that nobody thinks is worth a damn. I have one part time job that I love but earns me barely enough to keep my car on the road every week. I can't find another job because I'm not yet qualified for what I want to do and over qualified for further minimum wage type jobs.

Maybe I should have given up, maybe I should have resigned myself to being a teacher. Maybe I should have gone back to meaningless jobs. I'd have hated myself for not trying I know, but right now when trying seems  pointless I really do think I've wasted three years of my life.

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