“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
This last fortnight I’ve begun the ‘battle of the brain’. I sent off a set of words neatly formatted and referenced to my supervisors, comprising my first attempt at articulating the research topics that will comprise my project. I felt a niggling sense of unease appear and it stayed with me for quite a few days before I decided to take real notice and identify the sensation.
Yes, I was already worried and the concerns initially seemed to be “Have I done enough work? Is what I’ve written completely crazy and unachievable?”. However, this didn’t quite seem to cut it and looking deeper, I think the worry was bound up in a more basic need for acknowledgement. OK…being completely honest, the worry was akin to me being back in primary school, sitting up straight with arms crossed, staring earnestly at the teacher, waiting for my acknowledgement in the form of a sticker, preferably a scratch ‘n sniff one.
These realisations came to me when I couldn’t sleep one evening. Another voice from my brain kicked in and said, “There’s a long way to go sister; do you really need this worry to carry on for the next 3 years?”. I felt a sense of relief and soon fell asleep.
Still, these niggles have continued to arise and will continue to arise. I think it is important for me to continue to take a look at them and uncover their origin. Because what I want to achieve is novel science, not a sticker, and the way to do that is not to seek out positive affirmations from my supervisors, but to take on advice in whatever form it appears, without the need to look good. And that approach seems so much more relaxed and exciting!