People get this misconception that just because I am a PhD student, therefore I am smart. That’s what I used to believe too. Of course I’d like to think of myself as a smart person because I am doing my PhD. So wrong….!!
Very often, people give me this impressed look when they ask me what I do here in New Zealand, and I say I am doing my PhD. Then they oooh and aahhh when I tell them its in Chemical Engineering.
While its nice to be praised, I also feel very embarrassed and uncomfortable. Because, third year into my doctoral program, I can tell you indefinitely that I am not smart! Seriously, I am not trying to be polite, I really am not that smart!
People who are really really really smart knows better than to go do a PhD. I started my PhD program because I hated my job! I struggle with my PhD program. To the point I ask myself almost daily now, “Tien, what the hell are you thinking trying to do a PhD???”
One of my lecturers from my undergraduate days has this to say on how to graduate with a PhD in hand. “Tien, you have to be stubborn. No matter how bad other people try to comment negatively about your work or results, be stubborn and keep believing that you have what it takes. Just be stubborn!”
The keyword here is stubborn. Not smart, but stubborn! I believe him wholeheartedly!
And then there is this article that discusses how stupidity is important in conducting scientific research. If you’d like to be a PhD student, have a good read at this article, and think long and hard whether you really have what it takes. While being smart helps at times, it doesn’t get the job done, honest!
I am not smart, but I still want that PhD.
And I can appear to be smarter. I hope I can make the cut. I am fighting for it. Wish me luck, I need LOTS of it!