I am having a personal crisis and I thought maybe I should ask for some guidance in this forum.
I have been in grad school in 4 years, failed qualifiers once passed at second attempt. I am dedicated to my math-intensive research area, queueing theory, yet I still feel I am far away of being an expert in it. I have only almost finished a paper, that requires feedback from my advisor but I feel I am a big failure. My advisor thinks that I am ready to propose my thesis (thus make an early presentation to committee) next month and possibly graduate next summer. The trouble is, although I respect his opinion, even if I do get my PhD I think I will feel like I don't deserve it. It is as if I hit the magic 4 year landmark and being allowed to graduate.
Now, publication record may not be the only indicator as in my department people don't publish as much as in other fields. When I look at some good thesis's I feel that mine can be considered as masters (personal not confirmed opinion). In retrospect, all the proofs I stuggled seem so easy to me. Although I never considered acedemia as a career path and only consider industry, I more and more feel that I am a failure and will have achieved so little in the last years. I have been always aware of the challenges of grad school but I feel I messed up somewhere considering I work 10 hours each day, at most a day off weekends and having no time left to cultivate my interests, develop new friendships or develop other useful skills.
Maybe I should also mention that I am doing my studies in a top 20 US university, people mostly have the impression that I am smart, and I am aware that I have learnt so much during the last 4 years. I have read many books on productivity, learnt about Feynman's method, watched TED videos. I started going to gym to manage my stress and I think that smartness is a matter of knowledge and I have the capacity to be smart. I don't regret going for a PhD but on the other hand I can't stop feeling like I wasted my years in going grad school and maybe should have just gone to a mundane job where I'd have time to read about architecture, finance or philosopy and be a much more interesting person.
Does anyone share or shared the same feelings? Any advice to people in my situation? Any help appreciated