I am pleased to say that for the past two weeks over Christmas and the New Year I managed to completely switch off. I barely checked my email and social media, and did a little bit of academic writing (mostly because I was switched off then my mind felt less busy and more focused - but I only did a half days work!).
It is only now that I can think about 2017 in retrospect and look forward to 2018. 2017 was a year of change and adventure for me. I achieved my dream of travelling to Japan and it has spurred me to plan more adventures in the future (and a return trip to Japan - it is magical). Professionally, I took the plunge to leave Oxford, my academic and professional home of 7 years, to move to London to be with loved ones and friends. While I do think I need to be more considered in my career choices, I am so grateful that I quickly found a well-paid permanent position in professional services at a great university. Academically, things kept ticking along nicely. My thesis was finally published by Routledge in January and, while I'll never make any money off of it, it was lovely to see it in print and sitting on my parents bookshelf! I also finished the final draft of an essay contribution to the Harlaxton Symposium Proceedings.
That's not to say that everything has been great. The move to London meant saying goodbye to amazing colleagues and also the realisation that making connections gets harder as a) I get older and b) live in a massive city. After a conference where I felt dismissed and unimportant as an unaffiliated researcher, I made the decision not to bother with that for a while. It wasn't good for my mental wellbeing to force myself into situations where I didn't feel comfortable. That may change in the future as I keep researching, but right now I'm done with conferencing. Finally, on a personal level, my sister was badly injured in a road traffic accident. While she is doing very well now, it brought home the importance and fragility of family, a wave of homesickness I've not experienced in a while, and a desire to try to return to Ireland in the future.
But to the positives and looking forward. I'm not one for resolutions as I rarely keep them so I am making a list of academic, professional, and personal goals for 2018. It doesn't matter if I reach all of them - the important thing is the attempt.
- To publish the translation of Urbanus magnus by Daniel of Beccles, again with Routledge. This should go into print this year, I just have to get through the final push to get the manuscript complete.
- To work on a collaborative article on health in courtesy literature with a contact I met at a conference.
- To think more strategically about my professional career and work with an HR specialist to hone down my professional priorities.
- To undertake more Career Professional Development opportunities to develop myself further.
- To travel more!
- To be able to run a 10k by May (if you know me, you'll know this is a big challenge)
- To be more sustainable and environmentally conscious (Blue Planet 2 destroyed me)
- To try to foster more links with people, to reach out, and be more sociable.
- To make the most of London - I don't know how long I will live here for so I cannot let this opportunity go to waste.
- To not feel obliged to say YES to every opportunity that presents, but also to learn to speak up and say NO when something doesn't feel right.
Let's see how that goes. What I like is that 50% of my goals have nothing to do with work or research! Getting the balance right is so important.
For now, Happy New Year and I hope 2018 can be a brighter year than 2017.