I’ve been thinking a lot about the title “PhD Candidate” versus “PhD Student.” I’ve passed my proposal defense, so I am a candidate, but I realized I lost something when I insist I’m no longer a student: I’ve lost the ability to not know things.

I feel like when I insist that I’m not a student – after all, the school pays me, I don’t pay them – I also add pressure on myself to know what I’m doing.

But then I realized that one of the best features of my advisor is that he makes me feel comfortable saying “I don’t know.” Even when I’m halfway through my thesis, and supposed to know a lot, there are still times when I don’t understand something that maybe I should know or am expected to know. But kt’s okay to admit that I don’t.

Maybe that’s what makes someone a lifelong researcher: never losing the ability to not know things AND be okay with that.