The sharpening

Needless to say, PhD classes are seldom easy. Everyone struggles, but not all do so with a positive attitude. I often hear from some fellow students that our classes are too hard and not useful, because we don’t need to go that deep into the theory to read papers and do research. I disagree.

First of all, remember the parable of the pebbles? What we are learning now may look like pebbles; we can’t see their usefulness yet, but one day when they turn into gems, we will wish that we had collected more of them.

Secondly, but more importantly, as PhD students, our mission is to push the boundary of human knowledge. We want to build an edifice, to which end we need a strong foundation. We cannot do so with knowing “just enough”.  Like Lincoln said, we are sharpening our axes.


Of course, we can’t learn everything. What to learn then? I choose to trust the professors in guiding us. But ultimately, I make my own choice how to divide my time between coursework, research, and life. Most importantly, I am aware of and fully responsible for the consequences of that choice.

A PhD is like a marathon, not a sprint. We may be slow – that’s okay, it’s tough anyways. But we must be steady, disciplined, and positive. Remember, we chose this path (the school offered us the places, but it was we who accepted the offer). Now that we are here, our most logical course of action is to make the best out of the situation. We should be thankful for the guidance we receive, and we shall build our own future.

Image credit: the featured image was found via a Google search at this link.