I'm a first year PhD student (hopefully I can retain some anonymity on this forum.) in Mathematics at a respected university. Like many grad students, I'm worried that my choice to do this was or wasn't the right one. I have been reading about PhD life on forums for years, and I told myself I was willing to put up with the long hours and low pay because it was a noble cause and I wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on the world. I did a masters in physics and I did actually enjoy that quite a lot although my thesis wasn't as successful as I would have liked. At this point I've pretty much decided that I do not wish to pursue the academic career track. It was something I would have confidently told you I wanted to do about a year ago, but now I realize that I am a mediocre Math student at best compared to many of my peers (I currently have a failing grade in a grad level physics class - I've never gotten less than a C before in my life.), and those people are the ones who will go on and get the tenure track jobs. I am basically at the point where I need to decide whether to stay with the PhD and try to scrape by for 5 years in poverty, doing research in an area I have pretty much convinced myself is impossible to find a solution to (kinetic theory and turbulence), or to try and get a run of the mill software developer job with decent pay where I can get experience coding in c++ and eventually apply for quant jobs once I've mastered the programming skills. I've also heard that the first year is the worst year during a PhD. What do you think about that saying?