Dear Sesetu…

The year is 2050 and you have come a long way since you started your academic journey. In 2018 you enrolled for your PhD degree this was the time you started to think critically about the kind of academic you wanted to become.  Since then you have become more confident about the academic you are and the field of academia that you want to specialize in. So much has changed since your days of dreaming about funding being more available to students, healthy non-patriarchal academic working environments and I am glad you are happy with the strides that have been taken to make those dreams more of a reality.  

I am amazed at how your perspective about becoming an academic has changed from just obtaining a degree.  Obtaining your PhD is no longer just about getting the title and securing a well-paying job but it has opened an opportunity for you to learn from various disciplines, individuals and communities to help you become a seasoned researcher with a heart for realistic impact. You have also become intentional about respectful and inclusive (to both women and men; disable and able people) academic environments you would like to contribute towards building for future academic generations. I am proud of the work you have invested in yourself in becoming confident about the kind of content you want to produce and the effect it has in the academic space.

There were times when the academic journey seemed impossible to enjoy because of various pressures in life however, I am glad you perused relentlessly. I remember in 2019 when you took a summer job as a sales specialist at a retail store to cover your living expenses. You hated this job but you needed the money plus you needed a little bit of a break from the academic world. Working in retail was a challenge for you as you have never done it before and were very nervous about your performance. Little did you know that you will learn from this job to be more inquisitive, learn how to approach people (by reading body language) and listen to their concerns and finally you learn to respect the different working environments that people are in.

Looking at how far you have come, if I were to give you advice while you starting your academic journey I would advise you on two things that I know will be challenging for you to wrap your head around.

Firstly, you will need to be open to accepting change particularly in the work environment. Plans and intentions change do not always take those changes as failure sometimes it is just you taking a different approach to the same end goal.

Secondly, live your life . Do not just focus on you “books” because the truth is there will come a time when you will be done with the books  and you will not get back the time to build other aspects of your life. So build friendships, take long walks and watch movies. Be kind to yourself … you deserve it.

Best regards, 
Sesetu of 2050

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