I have spent most of last winter thinking that I had – as I inevitably would – reached a point in my academic ‘career’ for which I just was not cut out, not smart/competent/fast enough. After a (ludicrously long) training, it seemed, I had picked the wrong job after all. Here’s the thing though…after two months of forcing myself to take more time (actual point on my to-do list: do not immediately respond to emails) it turns out that maybe I was … just tired?
I’ve been enjoying my visiting fellowship (and indeed the wonderful company of the researchers at the University of the Aegean) : it’s been fantastically productive, academically, in many ways. However, here are the ‘achievements’ of the past two months I want to remember:
-) for two months, I’ve eaten almost exclusively things grown, produced or caught in my immediate surroundings (with the exception, ironically, of water)
-) I’ve met fantastic people, colleagues and students alike, who do research on top of some exceptionally demanding (and often voluntary) work with the refugees arriving on Lesvos (check out the Refugee Observatory, it is amazing)
-) I’ve forced myself to think visually, for a change …this means I not only managed to rethink some of my research, but also that I now have a record of the writing I’ve done in these two months. It won’t win the Turner prize, but ‘things-I’ve-done’ lists are vastly more motivating than ‘to-do’ lists
-) I have walked a total of about 500 kilometres – leaving me with far more freckles, and far fewer worries to lay awake with at night
-) I’ve produced what may be the most frivolous piece of ‘outreach’ ever (admit it, though, you too crave the experience of being insulted by a 19th-century over-privileged selfdeclared ‘wit’. And now you can!)
-) I’ve written an article I’ve been wanting to write for about two years, not because I had to, not because others were counting on my contribution, not because the project lives or dies by it, but because I think it needed to be written (of course, now I’m terrified to send it to the journal, but at least it exists)
-) I have expressed myself by pointing and waving so often now that I’m almost fluent. English may be forcing its way into all kinds of interactions (‘international’ or otherwise) but it doesn’t have to. (Neither is there any need to be proficient in any language to procure delicious shrimps, I may add).
and most importantly:
-) I have consistently only worked for about eight hours a day!
(lesson learned? probably not…but it’s worth a try, right?)