Reflections on 2018

Laptop and Tatty Devine notebook

As the end of December approaches, the urge to take stock of the previous 12 months grows and our social media feeds fill up with posts from people reflecting on the highs and lows of their year. Often it’s the bad things which spark this, as people look for something positive to show them that 2018 wasn’t a complete write off after all. Sometimes it’s a desire to reflect on a year of life changes and make a plan for the future. For others it’s just an annual process that ties the old year up in a neat little bow ready for the new one to begin.

For the last few years I’ve use Year Compass as a tool to reflect and get into the new year headspace. Setting aside some time in January to spend with friends (ideally) or alone, specifically to look back at all the events of the previous year, is a useful tool for reminiscing and learning lessons. Combing through your own diary to dig out the good stuff will also leave you faced with the things you’d rather forget, but it’s all a vital part of the process. However, in the past six months, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reflecting anyway so I feel like my 2019 Year Compass will be slightly different.

In August 2017, I wrote a blog post entitled ‘the view from a career crossroads’ where I discussed what I had done since finishing my Master’s course and how little progress I’d made towards the new career that I’d assumed would come about as a result. This year I reflected on how The Underpinnings Museum was perhaps that career change, but I’d not previously thought of it as such because it’s not the thing that pays my bills. It and my full-time job have made me think a lot about the nature of work, what I enjoy doing, and the pros and cons of my current situation versus other careers.

As my academic research on the bra is due to be published soon in the Journal of Dress History, I started thinking about whether I wanted to start a new research project and, well, I’m not sure I do. The more I think about doing a PhD or working towards an academic career, the more I realise how little enthusiasm I have for that path, and trying to be an independent researcher alongside everything else is just giving me yet another thing to compare myself to others over. If it’s not exciting any more, if I’m not having fun, is there any point in continuing?

Therefore, I have vowed to ease back on the “side hustle” and give myself a bit of a break in 2019, focusing just on the job that pays my bills and on having fun. The Underpinnings Museum is fun, so that stays, but as for everything else… I think I’ll wait until I return from holiday in January to take stock and see what inspires me after a break. 2019 is going to be a good year though, I can feel it.

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