Last September I shared 23 Things I’ve Learned by 23. Now approaching my 24th birthday, I’ve put together another list. I’m all for lifelong learning.
Here we go:
1. You can’t and don’t need to do everything. Prioritise your commitments.
2. Qualities can be more important than qualifications.
3. Social contact can help you live longer. Make sure to ‘build your village’.
4. What a stranger at a train station thinks of you really doesn’t matter.
If Richard Curtis adapted my experience of this month into a romantic comedy, it could be called One Wedding and a Funeral. It would feature plenty of love, laughter and tears, without puffy dresses or patterned waistcoats.
September has brought another milestone – going back to school. I recently started the second year of my MA. This looks set to be the last autumn I spend balancing professional work and academic work (and blogging and…). I’m keen to get stuck in and appreciate the experience. Please remind me of that when I’m in the library two hours from home and it’s dark outside.
“Things are both fine and not. Beginnings and endings are happening side by side. Life is messy and important and joyous and heartbreaking.”
These words from Meg Fee sum up August for me. This month, grey days stretched into sunny evenings with people I love. I worked, rested, then became ill and played less than I would have liked to. I visited the Peak District with work friends, appreciating slow, shared meals and a break from screens.
This is my third podcast recommendations post (click to read part one and part two). I keep finding new series to listen to when I’m travelling, washing dishes, in the bath or wherever else. If you think of any others I might like, please let me know in a comment or tweet!
18. The Debrief Podcast
With humour and good advice, Stevie and Tessa tackle topics faced by many people in their 20s. If you’re in Edinburgh this month, I’ve heard Tessa’s show is great too.
Recommended episode: How To Do Things That Scare You.
July seems to have passed quickly, thanks to travelling, working and packing to move out next month. I’ve been chipping away at larger projects and stepping away from my laptop more often during evenings and weekends. I’m feeling focused and content.
The summer break from MA classes and essays has given me more time for personal reading. I’m enjoying Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & In Life, One Conversation at a Time. If you’re put off by the seemingly corporate title, I recommend giving it a chance. Susan Scott’s book contains reflective exercises for defining what your version of success looks like. It offers useful tools for holding necessary, thoughtful conversations with partners, managers and other key people.
I recently visited Italy for the first time. I met my parents in Florence, where we stayed in a charming, convenient Airbnb for four nights (Friday to Tuesday).
I was excited about the culture but slightly apprehensive about what three coeliacs would eat in the land of wheat pasta and pizza. As with Amsterdam, I researched places beforehand and we managed well.
Here are some highlights from our trip.
I’m writing this from a chair next to an open window. The sky outside is blue, barely streaked with clouds. The nearby birds are lively and the air is fresh. I spent the long weekend in good company. As May shifts into June, it’s peaceful here.
Elsewhere, though, it’s been a chaotic month. I mentioned in January that it can be hard to reconcile difficult, world-changing events with ordinary life. When the Manchester attack happened, it felt wrong to focus on anything else. But intense observation seemed wrong too. Within minutes and during the hours that followed, tragic losses were turned into content. Circumstances no family would ever wish for were shared over and over again.
I’ve now finished the first year of my MA (as long as the essays I submitted are good), which is satisfying. My job is going well and I’ve got some exciting posts and articles lined up for the next month or so. I’m confirming summer plans, but fitting in plenty of rest too.
This is my first reflections / round-up post since January because of the term-time rush. Do let me know if there’s anything you’ve been thinking about, writing on or enjoying lately.
My podcast habit is still going strong, so I thought now would be a good time to follow up on November’s round-up of my favourites. Here’s a short list of additions.