We always look back at decisions we made in the past with great wisdom. We think I should have or shouldn’t have done that. I used to look back at the shy teenager I was and wish I had been more outgoing. Think I should have done all the fun things been part of the cool kids club. I am glad however that this does not paralyse me today. Hindsight is an awesome thing if only we don’t let ourselves wallow in the guilt of not having done what we think we should have done now.
So very true if only I had known this sooner but better late than never right https://t.co/5vOd7Ur13E
— Dudu Ndlovu (@mandlods) November 17, 2015
Sometimes looking back sucks all life out of our present especially when we focus on all the stuff we think we could have, should have, done differently. In the PhD journey I have had loads of opportunities to look back at the naive first generation degree holder and see all the mistakes I have made. I look at the conferences I have attended and the missed opportunities to make lasting connections with people. I have looked at decisions to take up work because well who doesn’t need extra cash and thought I should have spent that time on the PhD. However some of those mistakes are part of the learning process and important lessons too. Now that I know better about how to choose where to send a paper abstract for a conference I can do better. Now that I know how to work the conference as The Professor Is In terms it. I can do better.
So last year I took a year off and had a baby. This has been an awesome thing for us as a family however having a fourteen month old and writing a thesis is not always a fun adventure. So I have had the privilege of looking back at my naive self who got pregnant last year and thinking, I should have first tried to get my writing momentum high before falling pregnant. Hindsight tells me if I were to fall pregnant now, my work wouldn’t be difficult as I have already gained enough momentum to write till the finish line.
There were lots of positives from how things turned out. I don’t think would have had the same luxury of taking a year off for maternity had I been formally employed. Secondly now I know what to tell all my childless PhD friends thinking about when to start a family. Timing is everything, hindsight allows me to talk about the year I took off to have a baby as if that was the original plan. What I thought would happen was that I would continue PhDing until baby arrived. I hoped I would be celebrating a first draft of my thesis and a baby. As luck would have it however I found it difficult to continue PhDing while pregnant and so I took leave from the PhD. I figure had I gotten pregnant after having built a good momentum in my writing I could have pushed through the pregnancy fatigue.
It all turned out well though. I had a chance to enjoy the last moments of being a mommy to one. I was able to spend a good amount of time with my parents, sadly this turned out to be a goodbye to my father. When all is said and done perspective is everything. Looking back is good so we can glean all the lessons for the future. Never let it paralyse your present into trying to get it right. Imperfection is our human condition.