Ph.D. in Three Steps: Fall, Get up, and Keep Going

Edwin Chingate (ESR3)

Even though it’s not new to me, and we all keep doing it all the time, that phrase is sticking in my mind, especially during this period of my life called Ph.D. studies. As science by itself requires persistence, I’m aware that everyone in the world of science should bear it in mind, and I’m pretty sure that this is a good time for me to training my “get up and keep going.”

Of course, I’m dying to write about my research just as some of my colleagues already did. Still, I think that if you want to know more about my work and the way I do it, it would be useful to tell you something more about me. Because, as for the artist, the work of the scientist reflects its character.

Even though I love my work, sometimes I noticed that I should move faster, but then I realize that it’s too much for me and that I won’t be able to do it. Often it goes as easy as it came, but other times it requires more reflection upon it. I keep learning just as much about myself as about my research.

Finding the way to “get up” involves planning, understanding the situation, and discussions with others. Once I organized my ideas, I’m able to “keep going” since I own more in-depth knowledge about my research. I come up with a better plan for what I have to do, I know more about myself, and I’m more prepared for the next time because it always comes back.

It helps to think about the authors of the papers that I read. Before they fully understood the phenomena, they performed several experiments, and they undertook many pathways to solving those intriguing and complicated questions. It’s this series of challenges that make them humans just like you and me, and they finally succeed because every time they failed, they got up and moved on.

Frustration is a significant part of the research; you always have to try more than once to understand or develop something new. It’s a feeling that you’ll learn to deal with. I would say that “fall, get up and keep going” is a natural cycle. Every time you’ll face more significant challenges, you’ll feel even better after overcoming it.

Also, it is helpful to be aware that this cycle is present in other stages of our life as well. From having no money, being lost in the middle of nowhere, discussing with family, having a broken heart, or falling from the bike. Those are some examples of things that may have looked like something too big for us. Still, in the end, we overcame those challenges, and we became wiser than before. As getting more

knowledge is critical for research, this cycle seems to work, of course! Only if everyone keeps getting up.

As I have a lot of experience falling from my bike, I’m gonna use this as an example.

For both science and cycling, even though I have fallen many times, I still feel a strong passion for it. This experience usually begins as a regular journey, sometimes it happens when I’m enjoying it too much.

Something that I didn’t expect suddenly appears, without perceiving where it was coming from or why at that very moment. It could be ice on the road or an obstacle that I didn’t see before. Then, everything happens too fast. I don’t have time for any reaction, that I find myself on the ground hurting.

While suffering, I don’t know what to do, I just want to stay there and see if everything gets fixed by itself. But of course, it never goes this way.

I have to think about all the possibilities: does the bike still work? Can I even go home by myself? Should I ask for someone else help?

In the end, I have to deal with the pain and fix the bicycle. Later on, I realize that I can restart, maybe more slowly, but it’s something that I can work out and I haven’t found anything yet that defeats me.

I know this idea is not something that makes me unique. It’s just the fact that it’s significant for me. A lot of people “fall, get up and keep going” with their lives. In my case, these kinds of feelings are partly responsible for loving my chosen path. If it were easy for me, I would get bored, and I won’t do it. Stronger the fall, more satisfaction after getting up, and more experience gained for the keep going.

As we are all facing enormous challenges because of SARS-CoV-2, this is a good time for talking about this topic. A lot of people are living hard times, some already lost someone close to them, and others are experiencing economic problems. This is a hard fall, but humankind will find a way to get up, and things will keep going even better than before. I hope that with my words, I encouraged you to “get up and keep going.”