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

By James Hayton,
September 26, 2017
"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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