Loughborough PhD Social & Support Network

#SSN Open Letter – Dear PhD Student

Dear PhD Student, 

I see you.  

Yes you, sitting at your desk past 7pm when everybody else went home. 

Yes you, taking every opportunity to mention that you were here yesterday at 9pm when the fire alarm when off, or on Sunday afternoon while others were playing basketball. 

Yes you, asking people leaving at 6pm why they’re going home so early. 

Yes you, taking pride in being the one that stays in the office the latest. 

I see you. 

But I also see you, 

Spending half your day chatting to anyone and everyone in the office. 

Dedicating a copious amount of your “work” time to Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. 

Napping at your desk. 

Hiding in the lab or in a meeting room to have phone calls. 

And I’m asking you,

Won’t you rather spend actual down time at home rather than pretending to work in an office or a lab just to look busy and hardworking?  

And if you choose to come to the office/lab, why do you feel the need to judge people for having different working schedules than yours? 

I’m sick of this unhealthy “I’m the one working the hardest” competition. 

Never have I ever imagined I would see that many people at a PhD level proudly counting their hours (and other people’s hours!) at work (office and/or lab) rather than the hours they actually spent working efficiently. And not only that, but intentionally bragging about it. Like the very fact of physically being in an office and/or a lab for 12 hours a day (working or looking busy) is something to be proud of.  
I was so surprised to find such a thin line between working hard and hardly working at such a high academical level. 

Do you see someone leaving the office at 4pm? Maybe they came in at 7am, when nobody was there. Perhaps they’ve got caring responsibilities. Maybe they’ve got a medical appointment. Perhaps they’re just very stressed and tired these days. Maybe they’ll keep working but from home, away from your judging looks. And in any case, it’s just none of your business! 

So, my dear, please stop comparing yourself to others. You’re worth more than the hours you spend working. 

And I implore you, please stop making people around you feel bad for “only” working 8 hours a day. Maybe their 8 hours were actually spent on quality working time, and you should question your own efficiency.  

Best,

Another PhD Student

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