That’s it. The end of the first term. If you had told me 6-months ago today I’d be where I am today, after everything that’s happened since, I’d never have believed you.
This year has been incredible, painful and fascinating all at once. Many ups have been counterbalanced by a great deal of downs. Huge geopolitical changes, the astounding Olympics, Trump and of course, Brexit, seem to signal a world that’s on the brink of colossal change. On a more personal level there have been big changes too, and not all have been good. But I feel positive about what’s to come: with such big changes there are inevitably big opportunities too.
When things seem to be going off-course, switch direction
I started this year in Brussels, working for the Commissioner for Science and Research on my NEPT. It was a good start. Brussels was great place to live and my work was fascinating. Perhaps the most surreal day was walking past Nigel Farage on the day of the first meeting of the new Scientific Advice Mechanism, before getting to meet the scientists themselves and seeing the culmination of months of work in the first meeting. But every day was an amazing and worthwhile experience.
Then, after a truly wonderful trip to Stockholm, it was back to London. I was lucky to find such welcoming housemates and really settled into the work with a really forward-looking ‘digital’ team. It gave me a huge opportunity to work in something I would never normally have considered and to build up skills and interests I’d never have believed. In fact. it was so interesting, I’m now writing my Thesis on social media!
Even the Brexit vote couldn’t take away the beautiful summer. Climbing, running, Crete and looking ahead to Poland were complemented by long, sunny days.
I’ve been keeping this blog since late August and so I won’t recount all that’s happened since then. In any case, if I were to, it would take probably twice as much again as I have already written. But this year, and especially these last 3 months, has really marked a landslide shift in where I thought life was taking me.
Choosing the right direction
If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that it is the people around you that are most important. Perhaps a close second is your work and how much it really drives you.
The reason I loved that (purportedly) grey city of Brussels so much was that the work, my colleagues and my community there were all excellent. My role was engaging and varied every day, and whilst the social scene was a bit of a bubble, it was full of driven, open-minded people.
My team at the Department of Health were busy, but they looked out for one another, cared about their work and still found time to go for a drink every now and again.
I’ve had some of my hardest times this year whilst at the College and at every single one of those moments, I’ve found support in my fellow students. I hope they’ve found support in me too. It’s not all been plain sailing, but we really are that little family I mentioned in a previous blog. Perhaps it is inevitable amongst such a small, liberal and open-minded group, but it has definitely been a good combination.
So, as Allen Saunders (thanks for the quote David) said:
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”
It’s been an interesting year. But I’m not going to say it’s been a bad one. Every year has its ups and downs and although big changes seem afoot, I’m going to look ahead with positivity. As long as I’ve got good company, good work and good health what can go wrong? Life is what you make it, after all, even if you can’t plan it!