Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I learnt from 2010


I'm seriously considering writing a self help book but I'd make an effort to make it down to earth, not patronising or prescriptive and not full of personality type categories. It would be called You Don't Need Help.

Anyhow, 2010 has been a challenging year and a half and it's made me wonder whether every year gets more challenging as you get older. It's also helped me to feel stronger; stronger than I was when I had less to deal with.  It's hard to talk about this stuff without risking sounding like a self help guru but it's time to try. Here is a list of three of the challenges faced this year and what I took away from them.

1. My sister's cancer resulting in two operations, a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, her sickness, pain and hair loss.

She was braver than I could have imagined she ever would be. When people are brave themselves it helps others around them to keep it together, creating a cycle of mutual togetherness. Cancer doesn't have to take over everything - as much as it tries to. It can be incidental when fun or frivolity is the focus of the moment. Each moment is what counts and we don't know how many moments we'll have. I'm embracing them with mindfulness.

I have added admiration for my sister and I'm thankful that she's making a recovery.

2. A year of applying for permanent lecturing and other positions ranging from administrative posts to selling mobile phones in Tescos and receiving rejections or no replies.

I always said that applying for jobs is time wasting if you end up not getting them. Filling in the forms bites into your free time at the weekends and you give up those moments which you could be spending with friends. But spending time writing about all your qualities and rewarding work experiences is not a bad thing to do. And you can do it whilst listening to your favourite tunes. Each time I fill out an application form or go for a job interview I'm reenacting and reaffirming my previous achievements. Then if I don't get the job and I feel disappointment I realise just what it is I'm fighting for. I'm not sure there's such a thing as rejection. Not getting a job after an interview means that you haven't been accepted for that post but it's possible that the employer wanted to employ you as well! It's also possible that in the fullness of time, you would have been the better option.

Every time I don't get a job, I use the time I would have spent polishing my shoes and commuting to the office doing something creative. And I do it with the acquired knowledge of my new experiences, whether they be positive or negative. I write, draw, collage and add to the order of things. Don't negate, create! And bear in mind there's a recession on. 

3. Identity and other thefts.

I got my yahoo account hacked into and they erased all the addresses in my address book and deactivated my facebook account after they'd sent a message to my friends saying that I was stranded in Spain with lost luggage and I needed them to transfer money into my account. A few weeks later I got my handbag (with house keys, phone, cards, etc) stolen at my local cafe by two professional, middle aged thieves who distracted me by asking for the time. I sent a message to all my friends explaining that I'd had my bag stolen and so I had no phone. Some of them thought it was the email hackers again. This was pretty funny and we got a few jokes out of it. It coincided with me teaching Criminology for the first time ever - a subject which I previously knew little about. I was able to use my own experiences to discuss issues of identity theft, petty crime and internet crime with my new students!

I'm more cautious of strangers now, which maybe isn't a good thing. But I'm also more aware of my friends' qualities. Most of them are savvy and they didn't believe the hackers for a moment. Some of them are a little naive and they did but went out of their way to contact me and offer support. Others saw hilarity in the situation and I had at least one night's spontaneous wine drinking fun from it as a bit of post identity theft relief.

I'm stopping at these three because they're the things which come to mind so they must be the most poignant in my consciousness. Except for falling flat on my back in the ice yesterday - that's quite raw. Today I'm using my aches and pains as an excuse to relax which can only be a good thing. There's been lots of other mini traumas and inconveniences in 2010 - some too obscure to describe and I've learnt that a minor inconvenience can take a snowballing effect and a lot of time to resolve. I no longer expect things to happen quickly. I know to put more time aside to minimise the stress.

I'm looking forward to 2011 because I'm facing it with more wisdom, resourcefulness and balls!

What did you learn/gain?

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