I don’t want to be a full time PhD

This might come as a shocking revelation given how much I rant about the benefits I see on being full time, perhaps with the a the-grass-is-always-greener sort of attitude. This is not really a shock to myself at the moment, but it has happened now, and I have made up my mind about it now, so it is now when I choose to explain it.

This “revelation” has been building up for the past year, but has reached a point of maturity in the last four weeks, I reckon. The story started when someone asked whether I was going to send another application to the AHRC scholarships. My first reaction was perhaps too instinctive, but it said a lot. “I don’t think so, I don’t see the point”. At that time I thought I was being somewhat cheeky, and bitter about having failed to secure full time funding for the past three years. This would be, if I tried, my fourth application. It takes plenty of time (the best of two or three weeks) and brain matter to get one of these applications completed. Not only you have to think how to best sell your research, you also have to do so in limited space and time. Over the past three years, I have come to the conclusion that sending that sort of application is a good yearly right of passage: it makes you review your research and puts you under the pressure of showcasing the best out of it in 1,000 words.

I think I have developed a good method and my ideas towards my research are getting clearer and clearer as the years go by (as you’d expect), but so far all my applications have still failed at College level because others had better and more engaging projects. Which I am sure they did, of course, I am not mad at that. I work with a really small niche within a non-relevant field in the English-speaking world, so I am cool with that, with the little apparent impact that can be seen from the panel’s perspective.

Whilst answering this question, I also said that I would rather apply to this one-off small grant that the Institute of Catalan Studies gives for projects that deal with my author, and that would be more relevant in the longer run. This grant is way more prestigious within my field even though it does not fund full time PhD dedication. And having said that, I prepared a proposal for this particular grant, and sent all the info earlier this week. And decided to stick with my decision of not applying for the AHRC.

It is of course easier said than done; for a while I thought I was just kidding myself. I thought I would renegade from applying and be bitter about it but then apply last minute just in case this year there is a dip in the quality of the other researchers and my project gets funded. But then I thought that if I do get funded, I would have to become a full time PhD and lose my status as a Mongrel. And I don’t want that, I don’t want that at all.

When I was a barista, it made sense to have the dream of being a full timer, because it would provide a better quality life and more academic opportunities. Being an academic was the only dream behind putting all those coffee-making hours. It seemed like the only possible route out of it. However, in the last six months I have realised that being an academic is not the only way out, and that there is way more to life than PhDing. Being part of the senior management/admin support group at some point in my career also seems like a possible route. And I love the fact that I am doing something significant for my school, in a completely different capacity, and valued as such. PhDing is only a part of my life and not the sole focus of my existence, and I feel that that provides me with a much better and broader experience of the whole thing that full timing would not allow me to.

So no, I am not going to go for it, and I am going to be zen about it. I would much rather take my PhD slowly and stay a Mongrel. I have always loved wearing many hats and I don’t think I would be able to get rid of this one. Nope.

Stay a Mongrel.

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