December 2, 2020

Hindsight in 2020

Architect Eileen Gray made an astute observation on creating new architecture,

“To create, one must first question everything.”

This is also true in academia, as questions drive our exploration of knowledge. The personal challenges within graduate education can leave you with more questions than answers. We have explored five shared experiences that graduate students face, examined the contexts of each in my own academic journey, and reflected on the effects of these examples on an early-career researcher (i.e., yours truly). I hope this series of blogs has answered a few questions, given a little perspective on the experiences we all share as academics, and you have learned something useful in your own journey. Data and critical examination are the fundamental building blocks of research and knowledge, and both show our experiences can lead to positive outcomes. Failure leads to more productive critical analysis. Fear is normal, and a change in perspective can relieve some of the pressure of graduate education. Frustration exists in academia because your skills are worth improving. Futility, a common perception in graduate education, hides how much you control over the journey. Focus, properly applied, maintains your momentum when you graduate and impacts the development of new knowledge and new learners. So when you have those sleepless nights, cry for hours, stare into the abyss, and have a 90 second lunch break to question your life decisions, remember that you are not alone. This is part of your journey, and the hindsight comes later.