When you start a PhD, you are warned that a PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. But if we thought a PhD was a marathon, then academia is an Ultramarathon. Academia is the ultimate ‘quest for knowledge’ and there is always a next step, another publication, another grant, another conference, another step on the academic ladder. To succeed in academia you need persistence, stamina, and I have my strong suspicion you need pure grit.
I am at the very start of the ultramarathon, and I haven’t even recovered from the marathon that was a PhD. I am still exhausted, but I am also much more balanced than I was during my PhD. The way I view it is that the PhD was long and hard, and although I shouldn’t have, I got through it on a lot of stubbornness and on ‘loaning’ from my body- both physically and mentally. Although this took its toll, it was possible. It was four brutal years- not an entire career.
However, that won’t be so for the ultramarathon ahead. I can no longer grind my body into the ground. No longer take so greedily from all other aspects of my life. I need to work out a balance, which often does look a little different in academia, but a balance nonetheless. I need to work out how to keep that fire full of passion, drive, determination, and goals alight, without having to take the kindling from other parts of my life.