Rose’s summer 2021 comprehensive journal: chapter 2

When everyone was screaming “yay! Summer 2021!” I was like “Nah, I am staying indoors!”

It was time for my comprehensive examination, popularly known as comps. Comps is that long awaited milestone in the first or second year of the PhD program, where you show your department that you are the real deal. It is different for each department but for mine, I am writing up two research questions which I chose and which got approved of by the committee in a time frame of two months (nine weeks basically).  

So, let me take you through the nine-week gruesome and lonely process that is my comprehensive journal. 

Here are weeks 3 and 4; weeks 1 and 2 can be found at:

keep an eye on GradLife McGill for the rest of the story! My raw journal entries can also be found at:

Week 3: This week I must say has been amazing, I started something that I did not want to do during comps.  I resumed drinking coffee. Concentration levels got better. Anxiety levels were reduced. I worried less, I got more work done, I was even able to think less about all that worried me in the first two weeks. Although I do not think it is just the coffee, it surely helped. I have made a lot of progress in my writing; I feel confident about where I am at the end of week 3. I am surely looking forward to the end of all of this and celebrating the success of my Comps.  But for now, I would just like to bask in all of this and enjoy the process, like they always say. This week, I still felt lonely, as I did in weeks 1 and 2. However, I surely found a balance. I also realize that no one would ever understand your process except for yourself. 

Remember how I could not wake up early in weeks 1 and 2? Now, I wake up as early as 8 AM and am working straight up until 7 PM. This is with two huge cups of coffee, cutting out the world by shutting off my devices, and having my ears plugged into the best French and Afro music. One gats to do, what one has to do, right?

In the last three weeks, I have also craved for people to be there for me. I have come to realize, I am the only one that can be there for myself in the way I would like. I also realize, I am putting so much pressure on myself by having these expectations from people. 

What a week it has for sure been. It has been both a mental and emotional struggle. But God’s faith has been there, to say the least.  It is so sweet to be able to look back and smile. I hope to be able to look back at this whole experience and smile as well. 

P.S. I did not set any daily or weekly goal; I got a lot done and it was great. 

I think that also helped my anxiety this week. Mehn! We learn everyday right. 

Week 4: So, coffee kinda did not do me so good this week. However, I would not blame the coffee but myself.  

This week, I would say I slept a minimum of two to three hours daily. I actually loved it as I was able to wake up very early, go to the gym and come back to get a lot done. Writing this week was not bad at all. But, imposter syndrome, my old friend, came knocking. Have you ever read one page of your writing a million times and then, you began to doubt it even makes sense? Yeah! That was me. Have you ever read three articles, highlighted a bunch of things and were only able to write one line? Yeah, that was me as well.

Sleeping at 3 AM and waking up at 5:30 or 6 AM daily. That cannot be healthy at all. Two to three cups of coffee everyday helped to get a few things done. But, the resulting headache was terrible! Friday was when I knew I had not done any good to my body. After four days of coffee-induced highs, the body for sure crashed. My body gave up on me and told me it needed some good old rest, which I told myself I did not need.

Well, that meant I didn’t get anything done for a whole day. Actually, scratch that, the whole weekend. Would I put an end to coffee? That I do not know. I guess we will find out. Did I like it? Of course not! But it was needed. But it does not change the fact that I did not get anything done during the weekend. My body does appreciate the rest though. 

I cannot believe that it has been four weeks already. It does not really feel like I have done much. But I have done a lot. It does not make sense, right? I know. 

Week 5 here I come. 

Writer: Rose Elekanachi

Reviser: Anzala Murtaz

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