2020: a year in review

WHAT. A. YEAR!

We friggin’ made it!!

Little did we know what was around the corner when we blissfully stepped into the year 2020!

This year has been difficult for everyone and it really just goes to show how resilient we are as humans. It has been tough. There have been tears, anxiousness, depression, you name it but there have also been some great times. Again, another testament to us human beans, we can see the light if even it’s very dark and we don’t really feel like it. 

Looking back I think I’ve grown a lot as a person, there have been extremely low lows but with that being said there have been some pretty awesome highs. I’ve tried lots of new things, things I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing last year and you know what, I actually really enjoyed them! 

In the name of being transparent, open and honest I thought I’d run through the highs & lows of this year…

Lows:

  • Suffered quite a bit with my mental health during the first lockdown 
  • Overwhelmed by the media and news
  • PhD research halted for 6 months (this made me worry a lot about the future)
  • Felt lost
  • Realised I didn’t have much happening outside of working (hard pill to swallow)
  • Tinnitus appeared much louder (I really struggled with this)
  • Missed my friends and family incredibly 
  • Missed “freedom’

Highs:

  • Contributed to a paper that was later published (first time my name is on paper yippee)
  • Took part in online outreach activities during lockdown 1.0
  • Set up this blog and Instagram account, and became part of an amazing online science community 
  • Wrote a literature review (hopefully to publish next year)
  • Became a committee member of the Royal Society of Biology Yorkshire branch (I help with social media)
  • Accepted to be part of a scientific society early career researcher working group (remaining unnamed until it’s officially announced)
  • Bought a car and I’ve been building up my driving confidence ever since (this has been quite a big deal for me, I was and to a degree still am a nervous driver so I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come with it)
  • Tried an array of new hobbies – candle making, drawing, baking, running & lettering (all of which I’d never done before this year, it’s amazing what you can do if you just try)
  • Started a BSL course (been wanting to do this for years and finally got round to it)
  • Read for pleasure 
  • Submitted my 2nd-year annual progress review 
  • Made it through this year 
  • Learnt to appreciate the small things 

My achievements are not in any way to show off, I’m just pretty damn proud of myself for even making it through the year. The rapid change and feeling lost really made me reevaluate a lot of things in my life and that really lead me to try new things. 

What have I learnt this year? 
Well, I’ve learnt that I’m much more resilient than I ever thought I was. I’ve also learnt to take a look at the good stuff and all the things I’m grateful for. Yes, this year has sucked but I have my health, my family, my friends, my amazing partner, a roof over my head and I’m still getting paid to do my PhD. I count myself incredibly lucky given what many people have faced this year. It’s so easy to see the negatives, I know this is something I’m trying really hard to work on. This year did not go as anyone hoped it would but to me, it’s not a total write off because I’ve tried new things, I’ve become closer with my partner, I’ve managed to move my PhD project along slowly but surely and I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to be “on it” all the time. 

Goals for 2021:
I don’t really believe in New Years Resolutions because I think if you want to make a change in your life you can do it whenever you want, not just in January. I also think we end up setting unrealistic and unattainable resolutions that we end of breaking by the time it’s February. I like to split my goals into professional and personal, I think this really helps me with work-life balance too. It’s nice to know that my goals are not just PhD focussed and I have things I want to achieve outside of that. 

Professional:

  • Publish my literature review 
  • Present at a conference (IRL or online)
  • Read more scientific journals – I want to actively carve out time in my week to read more papers, I’ve definitely slacked a lot on this during 2020.
  • Get involved in more outreach activities
  • Achieve the main bulk of data collection for my PhD project – I have 1.5 years until my funding runs out so I really want to get the main bulk of work done this year!

Personal:

  • Put less pressure on myself – this is pretty open and I’m not sure how I’ll measure this but it’s something I’ve tried this year and I want to continue it next year.
  • Journal – I feel like I’ll benefit from journaling and I’ve tried it a bit this year but not built it into my routine which is something I want to achieve next year. 
  • Read more – my goal last year was to read at least 5 books, which I’ve actually managed! I know it’s not much but it’s the most I’ve read for pleasure since starting my PhD. I’d like to try one a month but I think that’s a bit of a stretch for me (aiming high though).
  • Look after my mental and physical health – I’m keeping this open which is in keeping with my first goal. I don’t want to say “I’m gonna run 5k” I just want to move my body regularly and look after my mental health in a way that works for me. 
  • Collaborate with other science bloggers/Instagrammers – I really love the science community we have on Instagram so I’d love to get involved in more collaborations
  • Increase my blog/Instagram following and engagement – I’d like to see these both continue to grow, it’s been great engaging with people online about science, tinnitus and PhD life.
  • Start making more videos (either for YT or IG) – I started making videos at the start of 2020 but I never continued. I’d really like to try again, as I did really enjoy making them. I think I’ll aim for maybe once a month (like the books haha).

Even if you feel like you’ve achieved nothing this year, that’s not true! You have, you made it through an incredibly challenging and unique year so don’t be so hard on yourself! I like to set goals because I find that helps me take the next steps so to speak. I like goals, professional and personal, many don’t and that’s totally ok. You do you! And remember you don’t have to change yourself for the new year, you’re great exactly how you are!

Whether you’re into goal setting or not, sometimes it can be really useful to review and reflect on the year to see if you’re doing things that align with your values and what you want out of life!

Thank you so much for reading and following me on this journey! Let me know in the comments what your goals are for 2021 and what you’ve learnt this year, I’d love to hear.

See you in the next one,

 Beth x

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