What do I want to be when I ‘grow up’?

I had a mini-extensional crisis the other day. I went to go get a scan done at the radiologists and thought about how much I think I would enjoy that job. How much I would enjoy being a radiologist.  I came out from my scan genuinely questioning everything. What if doing my PhD was the complete wrong decision? What if it will give me nothing other than a title of Dr.?

Kind of irrational I know, but not a unique thought. The next day I had a workshop with other PhD candidates in my year and we were all questioning whether this is actually what we want to do. When you are young the question “what do you want to do when you grow up is scary”, when you are a forth year PhD student, it’s terrifying.

I started my PhD because I enjoyed honours, my supervisor said I would be good at it, I wanted to be an academic, and above all I am a curious person and research fuels this curiosity. But, the more I experience I’ve had in academia, the more I have decided that it is not for me (I wont dwell on why in this post- that’s for another time). A PhD doesn’t just get you a job in academia, it gives you skills that are applicable to a wide variety of industries. This is both comforting and scary because I have no idea where I will end up and I can’t envision what I would like to be doing.

I think that while I enjoy my PhD, I would enjoy other jobs that didn’t require writing a thesis for four years just the same. When I first realised this, I started having regret about doing my PhD, but then after further reflection, I realised that people in all different jobs and fields would have similar thoughts. Also, I am 25, it is okay that I don’t know what I want to do. Throughout my adult life I have realised things I don’t want to do and that is a good start.

When I called my mum a few nights after my mini-extensional crisis, she said that she knew I would probably get bored in whatever job I choose and that I will probably keep dabbling and trying different things. As I said, I am curious.

So I guess the point of this post is that, although not knowing where you are going is scary- particularly after investing so much energy and time into your PhD, it is okay and common. My plan? To finish my PhD and apply for industry jobs because I won’t know what I like until I try it. If after a couple of years I realise that it’s not for me….. how does going back and studying radiography sound?


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