Well. It has been a year.
Our last couple of end-of-year posts have been full of feels (2020 | 2021), many of these rather negative and frustrating. It’s fair to say that it has been a tortuous couple of years. Is this year any different?
Every once in a while I go back and watch Julie Nolke’s brilliant Explaining the pandemic to my past self series. I love it, but it makes me cry. As I write this,
thirty eighty people a week are dying of this dreadful disease in Victoria, Australia (where I live). Thirty! Eighty! It is set to become the third-highest cause of death this year, after heart disease and dementia. Our hospital systems are on the brink of collapse. It feels like time is standing still.
Yet the year was better, in some ways. I went back to the office. I was afraid to, but I did. I enjoyed seeing my colleagues again, face to face. Before the pandemic, coffee catch-ups were a big part of my working life. I really missed seeing people face-to-face during lockdown. I needed it. I’ve just come back from a conference in Norway. I was afraid to go, but I did it. Predictably, my partner and I got COVID, which disrupted our plans completely. We still managed to have a good time, though.
There is nothing normal about the ‘new normal’. I feel like we might be in this pandemic for the rest of our lives. We’ll certainly be coping with climate change for the rest of our lives. I feel like that’s my word for 2022 – ‘coping’. I’m coping, and that’s OK.
I wrote two Research Whisperer posts this year. TWO. I spent triple (at least) the equivalent time self-flagellating that I should be doing more. At some point, I had to accept that this is just the way things are for the moment. I did write recently about energy returning to blogs I manage, and writing regularly again for them. Just as we crash into the end of the year, a time when they’ll lie fallow for the summer holidays. I was surprised at how much it meant to me to be able to write blogs again, from the quick and satisfying tapping on the keyboard to the rolling out of thoughts that had otherwise spent too much time on the inside of my overthinking mind.
Another element of my work life that has reinvigorated my passion for what I do is the Accelerated Completion Program (ACP) we run at my university, which just finished up. I always find the coaching extremely satisfying and a role where I can feel the difference we can make to researchers’ motivations and perspectives. It has often filled my professional heart with joy. Having the program happen at the tail end of the year was initially daunting (it ran alongside our always-busy, full-on program for Academic Writing Month in November) but it has allowed 2022 to end on a clear, high note in terms of having work that aligns with my values and career passions.
In times when it’s challenging to keep things going in a consistent manner, we are ever more grateful to our guest bloggers who never let us down even when we’re staring out the windows of our blog-bus in a somewhat hapless way. The wonderful colleagues who’ve written for us this year are:
- When is a paper published (José Luis Ortega)
- Presenting research findings in a comic (Helen Kara)
- Writing an ARC DECRA Rejoinder: An Unofficial Step-by-step Guide (Gerald Roche)
- What the “4-hour work week” can teach an idealist researcher (Abel Polese)
- How Shut Up and Write became ‘Just Write!’: An American Tale (Joanna Spear)
- Impostor phenomenon: a matter of inclusion and representation (Olugbenga [Abraham] Babajide)
- Researchers, your union needs you (Annette Herrera)
- So, you’re new to research impact? (Jo Cattlin, Wade Kelly, Ken Knight, and David Phipps)
- The unexpected joys of collaborative writing (Meagan Tyler; cross-posted with the RED Alert)
- Have your say in Australia’s university review (Anon)
- How to run an online event that isn’t horrible (Part 1) (Brendan Keogh)
- How to run an online event that isn’t horrible (Part 2) (Brendan Keogh)
The continuing pandemic-ness of our lives takes a toll so, more than ever, if you possibly can, take a step away from the work and pressure. Even if it’s a short time. Find ways to give yourself more joy and happy distraction.
We’ll see you in 2023.