I would like to share my situation, as I really need to have opinions from people in the academia or people who had similar doubts in the past. I am totally confused about starting a PhD, I have multiple variables fighting and I would like to get thoughts on this.
To introduce the situation: I have a MSc in Environmental Sciences with top grades, and a huge interest for a very specific, competitive, low-founded research topic (topic A). Something I wrote my MSc thesis on and I am totally passioned about, and something I dream to build an academic career on. I tried for months to get a PhD into this research field, applying to general PhD calls throughout the whole Europe, as no specific ones on the topic were published. Every time, I got accepted in the program, also when the selection was competitive, but I found no supervisors working on topic A or available to invest funding on topic A (“You need to finance your own research”). During this tiring and time-consuming process, I have not started a proper job, I have been giving financial and personal instability to my girlfriend, whit all the related consequences, and I have been in the worst stress moments of my life. After some months of this torture, I was resigned to give up because of the lack of possibilities. Two choices were left: finding a “normal” (non-academic) job and spending the rest of my life doing something “stable” which I don’t like, or starting a PhD on another topic. I gave myself one last chance, and I decided to apply for an advertised PhD on topic B, a topic which I don’t feel involved with, but “still better than a normal job”. I passed the first selection step for PhD B, and I will have the personal interview on Feb 21st. I am likely to win the position. My girlfriend is happy, they would give me a lot of money and she likes location B. BUT suddenly, a few days ago, I received an email from a friend with a freshly published PhD position on topic A, in a university in a location A on the other side of Europe. My heart stopped, I think I had a shock. I don’t know how to explain it to you, the probability for a position on that specific topic to come out were so small that this seemed to me more like a miracle. The required skills were perfectly aligned with my abilities. It was simply my position, it was me. I immediately applied, and I wrote an email to the supervisor introducing myself and explaining my passion. I got a reply after one week, saying “your general background sounds good, you can express your passion in the cover letter”. Good. Maybe. Now, I am totally stuck with my life. The deadline for applications for topic A is Feb 15th, and the position is starting in May. This means the selection process could take until April. But I will probably get the offer about topic B at the beginning of March. I have no time and money left to look for other possibilities, I need stability somewhere for some years. I would like to bang my head against the wall.
Possibility 1: I accept PhD B and I move all my life to location B. If they offer me PhD A, I say no for the sake of honesty towards supervisor B.
Possibility 2: I accept PhD B and I move to location B. If they offer me PhD A, I move again after one month, feeling extremely dishonest towards supervisor B and guilty towards my girlfriend to always make her life stressing for my own selfishness.
Possibility 3: I refuse PhD B with the hope to get PhD A. I don’t get PhD A. I start a normal job, end of the story.
Possibility 4: I refuse PhD B with the hope to get PhD A. I get PhD A. Ideal option. The point is here I have actually no idea of my possibilities to get PhD A. I am really a perfect candidate, but I expect a lot of people to apply, and I have learnt through experience that some positions are just assigned from the beginning, for example. Furthermore, I don’t want to annoy supervisor A with other emails.
What would you do in my situation? I need advices, thoughts, insults and everything you consider useful. Thanks in advance.