Writing about failure is hard. Even if the failure is only a perceived failure.
I officially walked away from my PhD program at a large R1 institution about a month ago. Writing the words “I officially withdraw” to the administration of my program was an incredibly difficult moment. I felt a large sense of loss, like I had just lost a family member. I was officially laying my PhD to rest.
I went into a prolonged term of mourning. Nothing felt right anymore. I felt like I didn’t know WHO I was anymore or where I fit into the world. I used to introduce myself as “Veronica, neuroscience graduate student”; now I’m just “Veronica”. Not having a way to identify myself to others made me feel worthless. I felt as if I was no longer contributing to the community or society and had become a burden to all those around me.