“The duty we owe ourselves is greater than that we owe others.” ― Louisa May Alcott
As kids, we have often heard this quote, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” meaning, when life throws stones at you, you must behave smart and tackle it bravely. But what if life has given you ample hurdles along the way, and you just can’t hold it any longer!? This is the story of a Ph.D. scholar, Natasha (name changed), and her prolonged infuriating experience with her research guide. Natasha began her Ph.D. journey with high hopes and determination, but it soon began to shatter as her guide started behaving in a way no student can tolerate.
Natasha got yelled at and screamed at by her guide, from time to time but she did not mind it in the beginning. But once the blame game and fake assumptions from her guide began to escalate and got cyclical, Natasha could not handle it.
“My guide would ask me to help with personal work and I could not say no. This had become a habit now and it was very frustrating. I knew I was struggling with myself very hard. ”
Due to all this, Natasha barely slept for days, and changing her guide was not an option. One fine day, Natasha was minding her work and she suddenly got a call from her guide which was not a pleasant one. Her supervisor again yelled at her and her dedication was questioned. Natasha could not hold it any longer and broke down in front of her family. Fortunately, Natasha was aware of the services provided by YourDOST through her institute. The online accessibility and anonymity provided by YourDOST caught Natasha’s eye and she decided to seek counselling.
“I could not connect emotionally with my first counsellor and also I was very irregular, but when I picked Ms. Annabelle, I knew I had found my human diary.”
Natasha describes Annabelle as extremely compassionate and an active listener. Natasha was finally able to open up and discuss her troublesome experience with her guide. Annabelle was very patient from the beginning to listen to Natasha’s story and often nudged Natasha to think ‘What could I have done differently to avoid the situation?’. Along with this, Natasha also explained how Annabelle was extremely non-judgemental and unbiased throughout their sessions. Natasha recalls how she used to call Annabelle with the smallest of doubt, and Annabelle would calmly listen to her and guide accordingly.
“Annabelle suggested various therapies including art therapy to me as a part of my healing process. The therapies really helped me to calm down.”
Annabelle suggested many activities and tricks to Natasha. Some of which were based on art therapy and mindful meditation. Gradually, Natasha saw changes in her overall personality and she continues to meditate even now! Natasha also learned how to say no when things require her to lose her focus from her Ph.D. work by her guide. She also exercised not picking up her guide’s call right away, instead, practiced deep breathing and calming herself down beforehand. Natasha describes Annabelle as a ‘torchlight’ in her life who guided us and also gave her the strength to lead her own life.
“My guide still behaves the same way with me as earlier. But at least now I have the courage and ability to stand up for myself and not get irritated frequently.”
Natasha is ever grateful to Annabelle and she urges other students to speak up and take a stand for themselves whenever they feel exploited by their professors or other superiors. Annabelle’s empathetic nature made Natasha feel more humane and heard. Now Natasha is an assertive individual who would not get exploited and who has learned to say ‘no’ whenever required!
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