Welcome to 2022

When I used to plan my blog posts (back in the day!), I would end the year before with some reflections of my highlights, and then start off the new year with some resolutions and goals. But I’ve not done all of that in many years now.

But since I started this blog again in 2020 to document the pandemic life, and since the pandemic is still ongoing, I wanted to document something. After all, I wasn’t in a position to do anything last new year – I was trying to recover from my Covid-19 infection.

I do have some resolutions and goals for this year – from simple ones like doing a one-month planking challenge just for the heck of it to broader ones like sending out a proposal to turn my thesis into a book. But if the past two years have thought me anything, it’s that my main resolution is to stay healthy, enjoy life and spend it with people I love.

Everything else – and there are many things of course – is secondary.

I won’t bother to list them out (the past two years have also taught me that despite best intentions, things don’t always go the way you plan it!).

So, instead of looking ahead, I’m going to look at the present. Today, I am feeling gratitude. And to document this, I have to look at the past.

I am so aware that 2021 wasn’t a great year for me personally: I kicked off the new year recovering from a virus I had spent almost 8-9 months avoiding with a vengeance. I was at a job that I was really unhappy at (but feeling guilty for being unhappy because so many of my other friends couldn’t get academic jobs). I had to go back into strict lockdowns again all on my own. I wasn’t able to return over the summer to visit my family. I had very few friends in Birmingham. I was quite miserable.

Things changed, however, and now I am grateful to 2021 for easy access to three Covid-19 vaccines that has kept me safe. I won an award for my PhD thesis from the Association of Internet Researchers, my academic home. I have a new job that I’m enjoying at the moment, and working with some brilliant colleagues. I built relationships with some great new people, and solidified some old friendships. And most significantly, I got to give my mother (and the rest of my family) a hug for the first time in over two years.

In that sense, I’ve had an extremely good year despite the hardships. And all while being in the middle of a freaking pandemic. That, in itself, I think is a win.

Happy New Year!

Backward/Forward

It is so convenient, with the current sentiment going around, to avoid looking back at 2020 because what’s the point? It was a difficult year, we all stayed home and 2021 couldn’t have come quick enough.

But as with most thing in life, it’s not as clean-cut like that. In actual fact, 2020 was quite a good year for me – global pandemic notwithstanding – and I want to mark the New Year by being grateful.

That is not to say that there weren’t many crappy moments. There were the clear Covid-19 related issues, including actually getting infected by the blasted virus in the last few days of the year! Before that however there’s the small matter of being the first year in my life that I haven’t physically seen my family.

Being alone all year also took a toll on my mental health and moving to a new city and starting a job in the middle of a pandemic means that it’s been tough settling in and making new friends and connections. I also had a rough 7-8 months of the year being a bit stressed out (and to be frank, depressed) about my career trajectory.

Rejection after rejection was hard to deal with, and even when I did get some interviews, repercussions from the pandemic means I missed out on a couple of good opportunities and I was so sure that I wasn’t going to get a job.

My physical health could also have been better. My neck problems returned this year, and I got a groin injury in February – likely from hockey – which meant that I haven’t been able to run at all this year, aside from a couple of test runs that confirmed I was still not well.

I think it’s important to note all the difficulties I faced. I’m increasingly aware about how much I curate my digital life, and it’s important – for myself, if not anyone else – to remember that things are never rosy all the time. I have a very charmed life, but it’s not perfect.

Having said that, in 2020:

  1. I graduated with a PhD, after a lot of hard work!
  2. I was awarded a six-month bursary that not only helped me pay rent for quite a few months, but gave me the time to send out all those applications! And I finish a book chapter that has been published, among other research activities.
  3. I started a permanent academic position at a university, which is relatively soon after completing my studies (salary, yay!).
  4. I made some really good friends this year as a result of the pandemic, both in person (company for outdoor walks) and online, the latter of which I hope to consolidate in person when things improve.
  5. I moved to a new city – it wasn’t an ideal time to relocate, but I really like Birmingham so far and can’t wait to see what it’s like when the pandemic is less of an issue (vaccines exist – woo!).

What do I hope lie ahead in 2021? Consolidating some friendships in person, do a bit of traveling and hopefully get some more research published.

And find more me time. Learning how to relax, making time for myself and starting to do things I enjoy again like writing (a blog) or taking a bath. Yes, absolutely, more baths.

Happy New Year. <3