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PhD anxiety, low self esteem and inadequacy - HELP


User: applepie - 27 April 2018 18:11

Hey everyone. First of all, I must say I'm in my third year of PhD and totally obsessed with it (I fall asleep thinking about it, I wake up at 4 am with my heart beating fast thinking about it and I wake up in the morning thinking abou it). I do have a social and love life, I do sports and therapy as well. Anyway, my biggest problem at the moment is that I have really low self esteem in academia. I'm very tense all the time, have a lot of issues in moments with evaluations and internal presentations we have to do from time to time (I have a lot of anxiety symptoms during them). But since the last year, It got worst. I started feeling very self conscious of my work and myself. I started to do comparisons of my work to others (everytime someone appears with similar topics I just feel like giving up) and started to feel very bad about my work. Specially, I started to feel very anxious with people who work similar topics but are let's say senior researchers. I started to imagine that they would think that I "don't deserve to to research in my field" and "it is not original" so I developed these thoughts that are persecuting my whole work. So I decided to hide from these people and the academic world, so that they don't find me and judge me and my work. I know rationally It probably wouldn't happen but I feel like that. I also started to work at home since I feel very stressed and very self conscious when I'm in the university (and sometimes even in the street). I feel I should introduce myself to these people, present my work, feel more open and humble, and undertake my place in the academic world but I simply feel I can't. While I'm hiding, Im sabotaging my work and the possibilities of it being known... I need help. Thanks.

User: cucaracha - 11 April 2022 01:14

aw :( I can relate and was hoping for responses lol :c

User: Babygirl - 17 May 2022 18:16

Hi applepie, I think you are experiencing what is called imposter/impostor syndrome which is very normal in academia even for experienced researchers.

I would advice you try not to worry too much. You have the passion for academia and deserve to be there. Everyone started that way and no one expects you to know everything. Take things a day at a time giving your best each day and leaving the rest to God.

You may read Dale Carnegie's book "How to stop worrying and start living" for insights to help with the anxiety.

You really need to be free and let go of these anxieties in order to live a truly happy life. If you need a break, take it and go elsewhere for reflection. Life is more than academia and outside the university there is a whole lot of life so try to enjoy the university keeping in view it's just one facet of your life. if you can't enjoy it then maybe it's time to consider a less 'intimidating' and more 'fun' career.

I hope this helps. You will be fine okay? :)