So I'm a current PhD student in applied math. My interests have somewhat gravitated over time so I feel like I'm constantly in new territory and constantly struggling to understand the papers I read. I'm always questioning the ideas I have for research, since in my experience my ideas have often been 1) done by someone else or 2) misguided/wrong.
I know I still have a lot to learn, especially about the "big picture" of my relevant field(s) and basic principles of research, and will probably find more specific problems that I understand. But at this point in my career, I should already be there, right? (Almost finished with my second year of PhD and still haven't published, though I have some projects that can hopefully become papers.)
It's difficult to imagine a state of research where I have my own niche and can churn out publications like I've seen some people do. I don't even like the idea of settling into a niche too snugly, as I like to move around and learn new things.
From more mature researchers, does this feeling of confusion and struggle ever diminish, or is it just an inevitable part of the work?