It’s that time of year again, when ordinary folks get together in misty eyed reminiscence- and introverted scientists escape the festivities to (finally) update their blogs…
This year really has been a rollercoaster ride. As my title suggests, I think it has actually been the best year of my life- but not as the phrase continues: the worst; rather the most challenging.
Moving south to pursue my PhD studies was one of the most scary things I’ve ever done. As a former agoraphobic, anxiety prone creature of habit, making a new life so far away was very difficult. But I’ve never felt so accepted as I do at Rothamsted. There are so many weird and wonderful individuals that I have so much in common with, and so many people who have travelled much, much further from home to reach their goals. The community here continues to comfort and inspire me.
My work has been hard too. This year has seen a cavalcade of setbacks to my project, a battle with the elements, continual adjustments to experimental design, steep learning curves in techniques, and associated health problems. I’ve managed to get one set of robust field data, and one paper submitted, with two more in the pipeline! All with more than a little help from my friends. It’s also been great to help out with other projects and initiatives in the institute, commiserate on fieldwork failure, and celebrate project successes.
The best thing about this year has been regaining a work-life balance. Admittedly I love my ‘work’; but in my MRes it was literally all I did, and I suffered because of it. This year I’ve had more time to diversify my work related interests. One of these that I find very important is science communication. I had a great time participating in Rothamsted’s Festival of Ideas- and my ‘tree of trade-offs’ concept was a big success. I also helped with the insect survey exhibit and did a flash talk about my work. I’ve participated in a teenager engagement event for LEAF (linking environment and farming) and helped with Soapbox science public engagement. I’ve already planned a large farmer engagement project (watch this space), and applied to present at Soapbox science 2019.
Otherwise I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being active in Rothamsted’s gym committee, improving my own fitness and helping others to do so (mostly with shiny, shiny new kit). I’ve had some time to indulge in my art again. And I’ve actually left the house to go out of an evening: events at Rothamsted’s ‘pav’ are great, with people who love dressing up as much as I do!
It’s been a hectic year, but in retrospect this has made my successes all the sweeter. With good friends and fun to balance the stress and uncertainty, it really has been the best of times.
Here’s hoping for a challenging yet fabulous 2019!
Also- couldn’t write a retrospective without honourable mention of a certain dark entomologist; without whom I would most certainly have expired this year- from heat exhaustion if nothing else. Thanks Mr.
“How should you be? You should be like a rocky promontory against which the restless surf continually pounds. It stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet. I hear you say, ‘How unlucky that this should happen to me.’ But not at all. Perhaps say instead, ‘How lucky I am that I am not broken by what has happened and I’m not afraid of what is about to happen.’ For the same blow might have struck anyone, but not many who would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.”
– Emperors Handbook, Marcus Aurelius.