March 9, 2015, by Kelly Cookson
Fifty shades of grey hair
Guest blog by Olu Amodeni.
Its 6:30am and my alarm goes off in some augmented intelligence cosmic tune. I always keep forgetting to change it to Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now (also known as the theme from Rocky), at least that would get me running up the steps in the morning. As I stagger off my sofa, tripping up on my left over pasta surprise (surprise because I just add all the almost-expired tinned foods to my over boiled pasta and surprise! I have dinner). First impressions are that I am just waking up from a bender – student life, hey? But the litter of papers scrawled with my writings on critical realism, agent and structures, reminds me that I had one of those late nights of studying. Then the battle between my inner cave man and my outer kingsman begins. Sadly the latter wins and I begrudgingly head towards the bathroom. I must bathe (said in my infamous Jamaican accent). Standing in front of the mirror, toothbrush held like a Sennheiser condenser microphone, I glance at my empty tub of Just for Men in dark brown, then glance back at the mirror reprising the “are you talking to me?” scene from Taxi Driver. Yes you, you 50 shades of grey in my hair, are you talking to me? Another tub gone and the greys just return like they never left. I am defeated.
In my last blog, I talked about how failure on my module knocked my confidence back but I was pulling myself back, trying to steady myself on the Black Beauty of the PhD like jockey AP McCoy. Sadly, in the time since my last blog, I fell off my little horse. I became a victim of the Icarus Paradox. The ability and capability that brought me success was about to bring me down, at least in my opinion. Like a syntax code I was looping continuously and couldn’t find myself progressing on the PhD. This one setback had become an iceberg that I couldn’t sail around. In business, you have setbacks but you always find ways to go around the problem. Product failure would mean you go back to the drawing board and redesign taking on board customer feedback and hit the market hard like a burst of energy during a very difficult bench press. In academia, it’s different. Yes, you do get the tingling in your belly (like when you meet a beautiful woman playing hard-to-get) but rather than just tingle, these butterflies are carnivorous and are biting hard. Cry me a river honey, there is blood on this dance floor, the PhD has got my number and she aint my friend.
Behind every cloud of despair, there is a silver lining. Step in the Three Wise Men, well One Man and Two Women, one being a professional counsellor. They helped me to steer my PhD Loveboat around the Failure Iceberg and turn the fun carnival lights back on.
Running a business and doing a PhD are both career-impacting and challenging ventures. They can also be very lonely, with steep highs and deep lows. This I have come to learn, albeit the hard way. So ’til next time, can I encourage you to pay it forward and encourage that entrepreneur, or academic. If possible, give them a hug, it might just pull them up or keep them up.
P.S. Even with the 50 shades, I got asked for identification at my local Co-Op. She thought I was under 25! Can I get a high five?
Graduate Teaching Assistant (Entrepreneurship), Doctoral Researcher.