There are a lot of similarities between getting a PhD and dating. Both require an enormous amount of faith and perseverance in the face of rejection and failure. A lot of time and energy is expended for goals that won’t be reached. I give myself a pep talk, often reminding myself that eventually an idea, an opportunity, will pan out and it will all be worth it.

This academic blog reminds the prospective PhD that this isn’t like undergrad. You are no longer tasked with homeworks that have known answers. You no longer have the clear objective of memorizing information for a test.

Lately I have had good direction, and concrete tasks to work on, but I’m worried that I’m not progressing towards a thesis. These tasks with clear goals aren’t going to expand human knowledge. I’m still searching for my big idea, still clinging to the faith that I will eventually find it.

Two weeks ago I took a mini-vacation. I went to Montana for 3 days of running and camping. 3 days without showers or internet. It was wonderful. I’ll add some pictures of it eventually.

I’m enjoying the process of the PhD, learning and trying new things. I think it is possible to both have this academic goal, believe it’s important enough to spend a lot of time on, and also detach from the goal, and enjoy life even when progress is not forthcoming.

p.s. Here’s a great running video.

Neal Holtshulte

Neal Holtschulte began graduate studies at the University of New Mexico in 2010. Neal graduated with a BA in Mathematics from Williams College. He works with an amiable and talented group of people including his advisor Professor Melanie Moses. Neal is currently working on automated software diversity with network security applications. Neal makes time to run and occasionally race in the 5k to 1/2 marathon range. He enjoys video games and maintains that while any bachelor can boil noodles, sauteing vegetables officially classifies as cooking.
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