A look back
What a journey, two years ago exactly I decided to start what I called the 365 days of academia project. It was an ambitious goal to blog, every. single. day. for a full year. Then in what felt like no time at all the year was over. Having a daily chronicle of my thoughts and knowledge is just as much for me as it is for all of you. It’s nice building a little archive of my journey and tomorrow will be the official end of year two. A year feels like a lot of time, until you hit the end of it. Like they say, the hardest part of any journey is the first step. Well, we made it to the end of yet another chapter, so let’s talk about it.
Not going to lie, it’s kind of emotional. It’s been a journey and the past two years just kept getting tougher and tougher. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. Then COVID hit, which made everything slightly (extremely) harder. We’re entering the third school year that COVID has effected (okay the first year was just the tail end of the school year, but still. So I’ve blogged more for my 365 days of academia project while COVID has been around than before it came into existence. I’ve struggled, I’ve failed, I’ve even succeeded a little. It feels hard to sum up a full years worth of stuff into a single post, but were going to try.
I guess we could start with some of the high points. I started an ambitious woodworking project, which unfortunately isn’t finished quite yet, but school and what not has kept me busy. I didn’t take up woodworking because of the pandemic, but I found time to take up woodworking because of the pandemic. If that makes any sense. It was something I’ve always wanted to do, I just didn’t find time until recently to do it. I really enjoy making things and doing things with my hands, so it was a good fit and I’m going to have a nicely crafted vanity for my bathroom to show for it. It wasn’t cheaper to make it myself, but it was worth every minute and it will be even more worth it when it’s finished (more here).
On the more academic side, I’ve made an outreach video for my school (more). I’ve written two grants (here) and (here) I also got one of three papers I’ve been writing (re)submitted for review (here). Because of all that work, this fall I will be (finally!) submitting my thesis proposal. The goal will be to spend the summer collecting THE dataset, the one that I use to defend my PhD and with a little luck in the tail end of year four I will defend my PhD and have to figure out what to do with the ol’ blog next. We’ll probably spend more time talking about that tomorrow when I look forward, but it’s nice to get it out here too.
As usual my mental health has been all over the place. Okay it’s mostly been in the toilet. Let’s face it my mental health is awful and somehow I still manage to go day by day waking up, doing some work, and repeating until I finish a whole year. Since I have a policy of being honest here, despite how much that policy has hurt me because I don’t enjoy letting people see me fail so publicly, I’ve had a hard time this year. Most days it’s a struggle for me not to want to just kill myself and get it over with. I’ve written about this pretty extensively at this point, so if you’ve been following along that’s not new information (if it is, here). This year has been no different from past years and if anything with the added stress of the pandemic and the fact that I’m making a huge transition in life (here) it’s been worse. Far worse than it’s been in a long time.
That isn’t to say I won’t make it. I’ve learned pretty well how to live with this feeling and to take things one day at a time. The blog helps, it really does. Still, it’s a struggle and one I don’t enjoy, so it makes sense that I would just want to give up from time to time. Why fight when you’re so exhausted? Why keep going when everything is telling you breathing is just too much fucking work? I’m always so fucking tired and nothing seems to make it better. I don’t tell you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because if you’re in the same boat, you should know you’re not alone. Which is kind of the point of the blog, so academics with mental health issues can see that it can be done, with support and luck, and I’m not quite at the finish line, but I’m progressing even with all the issues… somehow.
I also recently discovered I had a lot more to say this year over the last year. This year I’ve averaged 1,085 words a post, where last year it was a much shorter 826 words a post. That wasn’t intentional and I didn’t know until about a week ago that was even tracked (or if I did I’ve completely forgotten about it), but it’s interesting. The really interesting part is that every day I am afraid I will have nothing to talk about. How can I blog every day without having a clear plan about what I want to talk about? Turns out it’s not that hard, things happen pretty frequently around here and that gives me a pretty even stream of things for me to write about.
For fun here’s some other cool bits of information! This year I’ve had more engagement, which has been nice. Thanks to each and every one of you for engaging with my posts, sharing, liking, commenting, emailing me, or even just reading. I don’t do this to be famous, but I hope that at least a few of you have enjoyed the journey so far and have gotten something out of all the work I put into this project now that we’re going into the third year. I don’t obsess over my stats, but it is fun to see people care about what I write.
Speaking of emailing me, I want to thank anyone who’s reached out. I try to respond to all my emails, even if it’s just to thank you for emailing me! I’ve gotten support from teachers for talking about my journey, students for teaching them things, even medical students who’ve found my “know your spinal cord” series beneficial in their learning (here). Out of all the things I’ve written that has been by far the most popular series of posts and I’m excited to say that my favorite tract of the spinal cord (the spinothalamic tract) has once again taken the top spot for posts read for the second year in a row! Yes, I have a favorite tract of the spinal cord because I’m a huge weirdo who likes weird tracts of the spinal cord and the spinothalamic tract is, in my opinion, the weirdest! Don’t believe me, read about it here.
It has been a long and interesting road and we’re really only just past the halfway point. I still have two years left of my schooling (at least!) so you’ll have another two years of my daily word vomit to look forward to. I’ve got a lot of things planned for the next year and it may be *gasp!* the year I dump my pseudonymity and just give people a more intimate look into who I really am. I know, I said the same thing last year, but I’m like 90% certain it will happen this year. I have several papers in the works that I want to share and (if I may be so bold) brag about. While it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve given up my anonymity it will be a permanent shift instead of a single post breaking my secret identity.
Yeah it’s been a journey, but I couldn’t have made it this far without all of you. My blog isn’t a huge internet hotspot, but I’m happy with the community I’ve curated here. It may be a little platform to share my story, but it’s a group effort and sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thanks to each and every one of you who even just read my posts on a somewhat regular basis. It’s nice to have digital friends. While we will (probably) never meet or get the chance to interact more than this, I’m lucky to have you here and I hope you stick around.
The next 365 days are coming, so buckle up because it’s going to be wild. Did I mention I got a job? Well it’s not official yet, but it’s certainly stressful (here)! I have hope, which is what keeps me going. Mostly thanks to all of you!
Okay, now I’ll stop being so sappy and just say, thank you!