We’re fresh into a new year, and this time of year is one of re-evaluation, decision-taking, and renewal for a lot of you out there. This week, you’ll hear Inês Thomas Almeida’s recount of 20 years starting in a biology bachelor’s and leading to a PhD project in musicology, with many twists and turns in between. Inês brings a story of self-questioning, of determination, of resilience, of dealing with mental health issues, and of reinvention.

Inês Thomas Almeida was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Portugal. After studying biolgy and Piano in Lisbon she entered the University of Évora to study singing, where she awarded “Best Student of the University” in two consecutive years. She then moved to Germany and studied voice with Klaus Häger at the Rostock University of Music and Theater, having graduated there in 2007. As a member of the Opera Studio she performed several roles, such as the main role in Orfeo ed Euridice from Christoph Willibald Gluck and Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica from Giacomo Puccini. In 2008 she was prizewinner of the International Singing Contest Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg. As a prizewinner she sang in many productions at the Schloss Rheinsberg Opera. In 2011, in Berlin, Inês founded Berlinda, an NGO raising the awareness of the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries and bringing social support to the Portuguese community in Berlin. She is currently working towards a PhD in musicology at FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How there is always place for reassessing and reorienting, at any stage of your life, irrespective of what people around you may say or think
  • The importance of knowing when to drop an ongoing project to level up to the next, better one
  • How finding mentors at different stages of your life can help you in this “leveling up” process
  • Why listening to your body is important in staying healthy and also in taking important life decisions
  • Why you should allow yourself to take opportunities, even when they arrive unannounced
  • Why you should always prioritize any mental health challenges that may arise along your path

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“I am very glad that my life turned in all these ways and in all these confusing curves and roundabouts, because now I have this maturity, which turns out is very good for me, for my PhD, and for academia. I think I would not see things the way I do if I was 20 years younger.”

“In these 20 years between going to biology for the first time and writing the PhD, now, I did such an amount of different things and all this work, with the kids, all these are life experiences which I can use for my PhD. And I do use them.”

“Age enriches you, so use your age and use all your experiences in order to follow this thing you wanted. And never think you’re too old or that you should, by now, know exactly what to do and know your path. This is not true – your path comes in whichever way it has to come and you will follow it in whichever way yoou are going to see and whichever way is best for you.”

“Get professional help. If you have a mental issue, this is someting that most people see as a bad thing, or it shows that you have problems, and you’re a complicated person. It’s not at all. If you have a mental health issue, you’re like the most normal people in the world, because almost everyone, in some point of their life, is going to have a mental issue. So it’s like going to the dentist or going to the orthopedist when you have a problem in your foot.”

You might also like the following episodes:

Inês Campos Costa – Career advisory: PapaPhD.com/41

Joe Makkerh – Entrepreneurship: PapaPhD.com/2

Joana Lobo Antunes – Science Communication: PapaPhD.com/25

Susanna L Harris – Science Communication: PapaPhD.com/42

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