Academia is hard. Period.
But, that’s precisely why you are here and not someone else, right?
You are tough. Persistent. Compliant.
You have jumped through all the hoops to get here – Honours, Grad School, Postdoc…
But now that you’re here…
You feel completely and utterly…
You started the day (like the dozen of days before), coffee in hand, totally geared up to submit that manuscript today.
The desk is tidy (yesterday’s procrastination) and today is your day. But the red track-changes from your supervisor’s final edits seem to consume the text, the ‘just small suggestions’ in the comment boxes render you paralysed.
… how can you possibly maintain the word-count with those suggested additional references?
… They just literally changed their own sentence back to what it was AGAIN.
… They want to add a third author NOW for that token contribution, what??
You need to escape.
To walk, to leave your desk, to remove yourself from this wave of frustration and tension, from this paralysis, asap.
Another coffee. A prolonged rant to your lab mate.
But by now you’re so frustrated that nothing but the wittiest retorts directed at your supervisor (that you’ll never actually use) flow from your brain.
You add and format references.
A box ticked, but another day passed, and you are no closer to submission.
The grant you need to apply for waits another day.
The job you hoped to apply for - the one that depends on the acceptance of this paper, feels further and further from your grasp.
Why, when you are smart and capable and driven, does every day feel so.damn.hard?
Maybe you just need to do another lit search.
If only you had a better grasp of the analyses.
Maybe you should just shelf this idea and keep working on the proof that your supervisor suggested in the first place.
Perhaps you’re just not cut out for this institute.
...Or maybe academia just isn’t for you!
You can’t leave academia without a paper from this postdoc… there is no. way. out. of finishing this paper.
But it’s not going to happen today, your mental energy is gone.
That paracetamol hardly took the edge off your tension headache.
So, you head home to drown the doubts with Netflix and hope that tomorrow the motivation will be enough to push you over the finish line.
And the cycle begins again…
Hi, I’m Dr Desiree Dickerson and I’m a recovering academic.
In truth, I quit academia because I let the voice in my head win.
You know the voice. I am sure you do.
The one that constantly tells you that you’re an imposter.
That insists you’re not good enough.
That you don’t belong.
The voice that finds fault with everything that you do, no matter how good your work actually is.
The voice that pushes you to check, and check again.
To cite, to redo, to change.
To postpone, to procrastinate, to avoid.
To mull over that comment the Prof made all. day. long.
To lie awake wondering – WTF am I doing with my life?
You see, it took me a while to realise that the voice in my head was not my friend.
That the perfectionist, critical, nagging thoughts and the obsessive working habits were NOT the reason I got to where I was in academia (or in life).
In fact, I now wonder how I managed to get to where I am despite how nasty my inner critic was.
The voice, and the inner world it created, was making me completely and utterly miserable.
Despite loving research and thriving on the intellectual stimulation of academia, the way I approached my work was slowly and surely making me sick.
My mental and physical health suffered.
I began to withdraw from the people around me.
My voice had me convinced that they would see me for the fraud I clearly was.
It became too much.
And so I left.
I let the voice in my head win.
Thankfully, as I began to reflect, to process, and to share my experience in academia,
Opening up to former colleagues and academic friends, I realised that I was not alone.
That I wasn’t the odd one out struggling to fit in in this studious world.
In fact, I was more of the rule than the exception.
Why hadn’t anyone said anything?
Where was the discussion? The unfiltered, honest truth about how many of us in academia really feel?
The impact that our silent suffering has on our work, our happiness, our careers and on academia as a whole.
I realised then that this was where my energy was needed.
Having trained as a clinical psychologist, I realised I had the tools I needed to help people overcome these challenges.
I started reading and studying everything I could get my hands on, and interviewing everyone who would share with me their experience.
Pouring over well-being and mental health reports from Academic Institutions.
It has been incredibly eye-opening.
The Ivory tower of academia certainly has its flaws. It is not without blame.
The reality is that this system is not going to change overnight, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot learn how to succeed within it NOW.
Without losing your sleep.
Without missing out on all the other things in life.
Without sacrificing your health and happiness.
And YOU CAN.
When your computer isn’t working you call IT, right?
When you break your leg, you go to the doctor.
When the car breaks down, you go to the mechanic.
Then WHY, when the voice in your head is literally the worst reviewer you will ever come across, do you suffer in silence, carrying the burden on your own?
It simply doesn’t have to be this way.
I can give you the tools I desperately wish I used when I was where you are now, so that you can make a difference for yourself.
In fact, if I had the courage to share the load,
To let out the thoughts swirling around my head to someone with the knowledge and expertise to help me re-find my footing…
I may not have left the field I worked so hard to get into.
I would’ve known that I wasn’t alone sooner.
I would’ve known what to do and how to adjust so that I could thrive instead of suffer.
I could’ve found a way to start loving my job again.
Speaking with a psychologist isn’t sorcery or psychoanalysis.
It is the straight forward hard work of evidence-based psychological theory and practice.
And that is what I know and do.
And this is how I want to help.
Because you deserve to enjoy academia so that you can make a difference.
After all, that is why you are here, isn’t it?
So, give me a call and let’s make a change, so you can .
How you live your life NOW, what you do with your EVERYDAY, determines the quality of your work, your performance, your relationships, and your happiness!
I am a neuroscientist and (New Zealand-registered) clinical psychologist and I use cutting-edge neuroscience and psychological strategies to help you make lasting changes that maximise your cognitive performance AND well-being.
How we think, feel, perform and grow is a reflection of the voice in our heads - our mindset - and our cognitive and emotional strengths. Learn to how to use your lifestyle choices, habits, mindset, and mental focus, to perform at your peak AND maximise what you get out of life!
Are you ready to get started?
Please note that these are professional coaching sessions and I am not working in the capacity of a psychologist. My work focuses on helping individuals achieve peak performance and well-being and does not seek to treat mental illness of any kind nor replace psychological therapy or treatment of any kind. If you find yourself struggling with some form of mental illness please seek the help of a professional working in this capacity.