I've grown to realise that despite being nearly a year in, I've made little (if any) progress towards completing my objectives and it feels like I'm working in a vacuum since I'm not allowed back on campus thanks to covid. Lifeless and unproductive zoom meetings punctuate days spent staring at articles and screens. It's also very lonely since I'm the only PhD student in the group.

I feel as if I'm at the lowest point I've ever been at- the deeper I delve into the research area the more I realise it's simply not interesting to me. I also feel as if I don't have a very good relationship with my supervisor since all they seem to do is bark orders and criticise me rather than hold productive conversations. It feels as if every supervision meeting is a chore to them and that I'm preventing them from doing their research. I had a meeting last Monday that nearly made me burst into tears after they criticised the code I've spend 4 months writing and working on (with no feedback).

After recently attending a 3 week conference searon I'm even further convinced I've made a grave mistake picking this research area since not a single talk grabbed my interest the way what I studied as an undergraduate did.

I don't even know how to handle this since I can't really quit a year in or really tell my parents. To summarise, I'm feeling truly unhappy and distraught about it all and I'm losing interest by the day. It's surely not normal to dread every single day of work?

I feel terrible, what should I do?

  • 4
    Honestly, I think all of this is due to remote learning. Once things open up, you will get to collaborate with people in person--- and that could make the whole difference.
    – Debbie
    Jul 18, 2021 at 10:13
  • I sympathise. It sounds like you are very burnt out. Take a break -- a real, proper break -- of at least two weeks. More if you can manage it. Don't do anything research-related in that time. And talk to someone -- a friend, your parents, a professional -- about how you feel. A problem shared is a problem halved. Jul 18, 2021 at 12:06
  • 2
    "3 week conference" what? how can a conference last 3 weeks? and, if nothing similar to your topic appeared, it must have been the wrong conference! What is your topic?
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 18, 2021 at 12:18
  • I have suffered mentally quite a bit last year due to the pandemic. My productivity was at the lowest point in 2020. I was mostly thinking about and working on how not to die with covid and how would I help others to do the same. So, ditto to user758469, once things open up, things would get better. Jul 18, 2021 at 17:46
  • I notice you asked roughly the same question last month, and a month before that and four months before that. I realize this is a difficult decision, but we can't give you any more advice now than we did before. You might consider editing your question to explain how the previous advice helped (or didn't) and what is different about your question this time.
    – cag51
    Jul 19, 2021 at 1:09

1 Answer 1


There are alternatives to quitting. You may have a terrible advisor, or, at least, an incompatible one. You may be in the wrong group. You may have chosen an uninteresting problem, or had one thrust upon you.

The alternative is to make a change. Even a change to a different university to make a clean break. I did so, and had a completely different experience at the new place. But I had a strong advocate that made it possible.

Other explanations for your dilemma: Burn Out comes immediately to mind, in which case a break or big change might be needed. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but not uniformly hard.

And, you can talk to your parents, and others, about how badly you are treated in your current situation. Think about all your options. There are more than just accepting the current situation versus quitting altogether. Think about your goals nd about your assets.

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