The BIG commitment

Doing a PhD is a big commitment, everyone tells you. A few years ago, when some of my friends were deciding if they wanted to do a PhD, I had a very clear answer to the question: no. Why would you want to bury yourself in a university, asking questions no one was interested in when you could be out in the world helping solve real problems? Well, five years later I changed my mind and my answer. Doing a PhD gives you the time and resources to respond to the questions I am interested in, and hopefully, other people too.

It is a big commitment but mainly with yourself, of course, you have to answer to your supervisor, to your funders and to the academic community, I guess. But it is mainly about you and your interests. I think it is like the big marathon people my generation keep preparing themselves for. Suddenly, everyone in their thirties is into running, travelling the world chasing races, iron-man competitions, half marathons, etc. Well, I think a PhD is something like that, it is training, a 3-year long training to become a good researcher, a good scientist, a good writer.

This PhD’s topic is perfect for me, I always dreamed of answering the questions the call for applications suggested. Why do people prefer to buy new things over second-hand when they both fulfil the same function? I remember having this conversation with a friend on a bus, after going shopping. We did our first master together, back in the day, she is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, and she is also sensitive and curious.

Out of curiosity, we started a side project to promote responsible consumption of clothes, we called it Ecochic Estilo ConSentido (Ecochic Conscious Style in English). We organised clothes swapping events for over 8 years, trying to show people we don’t need new clothes to create fantastic new looks. We brought on board many individuals and organisations, I’d say we were very successful in promoting the idea of sustainable consumption without knowing it.

In the early 2000s, in Colombia, the ideas of Industrial Ecology, Sustainable consumption and the circular economy where completely unknown. We were working following our intuition. Now I know we were introducing things like lifecycle thinking, product service systems to consumers.

Anyways, after a few years of organising these events, a lot of enthusiasm was manifested by different actors, however when it came to participating in the event, very few would show up, compare to those saying we would. I remember asking myself what would possibly explain that inconsistency, and be telling my friend we should ask a professor at the university about it. This was 5 or 6 years ago, maybe, I don’t remember, but then it was when unconsciously I decided I wanted to do a PhD.

Long story short, I see this PhD journey that started in January, as my marathon. A road that is not easy but that will lead me to achieve many things I want to accomplish. Of course, it is about creating new knowledge and helping society be better, but it is also about me, fulfilling a dream, developing skills, meeting people, and getting stronger.

This is the first post of this blog, and it will be the only one that is this personal and off-topic. The next posts will deal with the things I research and the things I write about. I just wanted to put on “paper” my ultimate motivation for doing this PhD so I can come back here whenever I feel disappointed or tired.