Tips to help you remember what your loved one's PhD is about again

So: you’ve asked your sister to remind you 27 times this week, “what your PhD is about, again??” and you have once again completely forgotten, because you do not actually care.

So: you've asked your loved one to remind you 27 times this week, "what your PhD is about, again??" and you have once again completely forgotten, because you do not actually care.

Look. This madness has to stop. You HAVE TO start remembering what this person's PhD is on. IT IS THEIR LIFE'S WORK. THEIR HEART AND SOUL. THEIR CHILD. Come on. It's not hard. Okay fine, it's very hard, but you can do this.

1. Breathe. You know more than you think.

Give yourself some credit: you haven't totally tuned out every time they describe their research to you. You know, deep down, that their PhD is definitely something to do with people, and their behaviours and/or tendencies.

2. Use every conceivable tool to force their PhD thesis into your brain's memory

The next time your loved one starts talking about his or her PhD, tape-record the conversation on four different devices while also using a Sharpie to transcribe the conversation into your very flesh. Even better: a permanent marker. This isn't the time to mess around. Are you a real friend? Ensure a tattoo artist is present at every one of your hang-outs.

3. Enlist the help of your community

If you're maxed out on asking your loved one to just quickly remind you what her PhD is about, and you can't possibly ask again, it's time to quietly take your question to your mutual friends. Call her parents if you have to. No one will know the answer of course, but if you enlist between 10–12 other people, surely you can cobble together some semblance of the gist. Maybe one of you knows that it has something to do with permaculture! Someone else might know she went to Brazil to do her field research! Someone else might offer up the juicy tidbit that horses are somehow involved! Teamwork!

4. Enrol in a PhD program yourself to take the focus off her PhD

It can be about anything you want, like feminism or rocks. If you've given it your all, exhausted every resource, and still can't manage to remember the topic of your loved one's thesis, it's time to activate the nuclear option: enrol in a PhD program yourself. Now, the spotlight will firmly pivot onto your PhD, and hers will fade into the background where it belongs. Note that you may have to fulfill some fairly major prerequisites, such as completing a Masters degree and publishing years of relevant writing and research. Also you'll have to pour months of your life into crafting a proposal, and be prepared to live in a financially compromised state for the better part of a decade. Totally worth it to take the focus off your loved one.

5. Oh no: now you're in a PhD program and you can never remember what your own PhD is about

Welp! Start back at the top of this list, I guess! And good luck out there, champ.

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About the Author

Sophie Kohn


Sophie Kohn is writer and producer with CBC Comedy, a stand-up comedian in Toronto, and a graduate of Second City's Conservatory program.