"If I can do it you can do it too"

By James Hayton,
September 26, 2017
I'm James, I'm a former physicist (PhD, Nottingham, 2007) and author of "PhD: An Uncommon Guide to Research, Writing & PhD Life".
Since 2010, I've been helping PhD students all over the world overcome barriers in their research and writing
My strategies have helped thousands of PhD students just like you to build confidence, write better and finish on time
"I went through such a tough time during my PhD... if I can do it you can do it too!"

I've heard statements like this countless times. As well-intentioned as the sentiment might be, it isn't always helpful.

No matter how tough the situation, somebody, somewhere, probably has it worse. To say, "if I can do it you can do it too" ignores that possibility that some people find themselves in harder circumstances.

I don't think I'm the least capable person ever to get a PhD, nor do I think my circumstances were the hardest. I don't know exactly what you're going through and I don't know if you can do it too. This realization is key to really understanding other people's situations and finding ways to help.

See also:
How to support someone doing a PhD
Advice is a form of nostalgia
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