So maybe taking leave will not be the same as getting lost

Taking a leave of absence is something that a few weeks ago I was very sure I could not bring myself to do. I was surprise by the people who were supportive of my reluctance to take leave, especially since my main reason was that I knew I was clinging onto being a candidate, could not bring myself to think of the administrative work, and that I was worried about things never getting resolved if time was not an issue. In other words, I knew that my reasons for not taking leave were not what I thought of as being particularly well intentioned or all that closely linked to actually getting my thesis done.

It was easy to see how taking leave could benefit those people who suggested it as the most reasonable course of action, they were generally people who would have to sign off on any extension request I might need to put in further down the track if I do not stop the clock now. I am sure they were not being selfish in their suggestion, but it was easy to see their suggestion as also suiting them. Leave is often suggested in response to my attempts to get meetings/conversations to happen sooner rather than later.

However, there really is no reason to make life harder for those people who are supportive of me and maybe taking leave will not the end of the world… or even the end of my PhD. I certainly do not think any less of other people who step back from degrees or step down in their work load. Finishing my PhD sooner or later is not going to threaten any of my broader life plans.

I have been told if the suggestion of taking leave is certainly not a suggestion to stop working on my thesis. However, if I took leave I would treat it as such and use the time to read some books, sort some things out for work, and maybe do some of those [being a member of a family sort of] things I use my thesis as an excuse not to do as often as I could.

I have really enjoyed the past few days of trying to get things done for deadlines, getting back to working on papers after a couple of conferences, and enjoying the quiet campus before semester starts. However, I am sure there is more to life than that satisfying but slightly stressful feeling of trying to get an argument to hang together well enough to allow the document to be something I am willing to circulate. The ‘ticking clock’ of candidature is how I justify some of my anxiety and impatience – not just impatience with how many months it takes to get somebody to pass on the feedback they said they have for me on a paper they have already read, but also impatience that leads to me wanting people to give me feedback on ideas which still require a lot of work. I cannot expect others to help me short cut the planning side of getting a thesis.

A leave of absence is not an answer to anything, but maybe it is not such an objectionable idea.

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