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.
How much of myself am I giving away?
This is a question I’ve been thinking about recently. I manage digital channels for a living, check in with social media daily and write about my life online. My Facebook profile is private, but I have public Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. Although a benefit of those platforms is being able to engage with new people and organisations that I may not otherwise discover, I occasionally find how accessible I am unnerving.
We’ve almost arrived at the end of January – a month marked for millions by disappointment, fear and anger, as a certain someone began a certain job that he is certainly not prepared for.
Personally, this month has involved beginning a new term at work and university, adapting to a different schedule, prioritising self-care and supporting others. I’ve been quietly joyful about aspects of my own life while also occasionally overwhelmed by world events.
Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about, reading, listening to and watching during the first weeks of 2017.
Over the past year I’ve become a devoted podcast listener. I like that podcasts enable me to learn about events and reflect on issues away from the glare of my laptop screen, especially during my commute. I’m always happy to hear other people’s podcast recommendations, so I decided to share my own. If you know of any others I might like, please let me know in a comment or tweet.
I don’t want to be a shell,
Hollowed out and waiting.
Magazines make me want to yell,
Anticipating the girls who will see them
And take them at their word.
It’s absurd – the socially prescribed idea that
We should shrink to fit the space left for us.
Messages addressed to us on shiny covers.
A thigh gap will not fill you up.
I turn 23 next month. This post may be slightly early, but the thoughts came to me today. I like reading other people’s annual reflections and decided to bring together some of my own, in addition to this Letter to my Teenage Self. In no particular order, here are 23 things I’ve learned so far:
1) Invest in friendships for support, fun, discussion and honest opinions.
2) A little constructive debate is healthy and can help you to form your own views. Spend time with people who hold different perspectives.
3) Parents, grandparents and other relatives have great stories. Ask to hear them.
4) It’s possible to be an introvert and also quite like public speaking.
I recently came across these lines in my 2013/14 journal:
‘I’m finding it slightly strange that I’m turning into a woman capable of professionalism and at the same time I’m just a twenty year old who reads a lot and writes about her feelings.’
More than two years on, I feel confident in my growing professional abilities (hello, team, if you’re reading this) and more open about my creative life beyond work. As I mentioned in this post on self-care, writing gives me space to process my experiences. I find it comforting to note down minor thoughts and grapple with the big picture. It frees up headspace and makes me better at my weekday work. (I’m fortunate that playing around with words is also part of my current job – #comms.)