I (33F) just finished my PhD! But it’s at the cost of my relationship with my academic supervisor (40s,M), which has deteriorated significantly over ......
Sandy|Aug. 08, 2019
Not sure if this belongs here or elsewhere—happy to post somewhere else if it’s more appropriate.
I have just come to the end of a six-year journey working towards my PhD. The first five years were sometimes rocky (not just because of supervisor-related issues) but for the most part, it was a breeze. I felt supported by my lab mates, my supervisor, and my family and friends. I have always been a fairly laid-back person. At the time, I really thought that I could have been the exception to the stigma of grad school, where conflict is unavoidable and everyone comes out with a degree in hand but miserable and damaged.
Over the last year, I’ve seen my lab mates graduate out of the lab in this state. I didn’t know what to do to help. I think I’m a good friend, but at the same time, a lot of the conflict came from the relationships that they had with our supervisor, and that put me in a sticky place, because he was still my supervisor even if he wasn’t anymore to them. Still, I tried to be as objective as I could going forward with my supervisor, but I could never completely shake off their warnings.
Many things happened over the last year that killed our relationship. I’m not asking for advice to mend it—that is something I should have asked months ago, and sadly it is not something that I’m seeking anymore. Our relationship was once great, and we might have even called ourselves friends at some point (purely professional of course). I’m now at a point where I have realized that the only way to move past this train wreck is to put distance between us and leave the lab, even though I had intended on finishing up some work before that happened. It just feels really broken to me that I finally have my degree after a gruelling six years, and I failed at keeping this relationship alive.
Should I have been treating this as a transaction all along (get my degree and get out)? Did I get too attached and did I bring this upon myself? Should I be mourning the death of this relationship, seeing as I did put value in it only a few years ago? I guess I’m having a tough time dealing with this because there are definitely parallels to the end of romantic relationships, but the issue is really that professional boundaries were broken which nullifies that comparison.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far!
TL;DR: I succeeded academically but failed professionally, and it’s a major buzzkill.
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