Yep, reviewing one’s past year is super cliché. One of the great things about getting older (for me, at least) is that I’m comfortable doing something cliché, listening to popular music or watching popular TV, acting in a “typical” way. I don’t have the internal (or external) pressure to spend every moment being special or different or unique or weird. I’m a weird dude, so acting like a normal person sometimes isn’t going to bleach the color out of my personality. And caring so much about not conforming isn’t all that different from caring so much about conforming, really–it’s acting out a script, even if you have more creative control in the scriptwriting process.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a quick year-in-review. My age-year is synced to my academic year (August = birthday, new school year), which was really nice when I was growing up. The academic year had much more of an impact on my life than the calendar year, as far as beginnings and endings went. Well, I’ve stayed under the umbrella of the academic year practically all my life, since I’ve never taken more than a several-months break from school. This dovetailing of personal beginning and social/functional beginning renders August the January of my life; not sure what either Octavian or Janus would think of that, though my Latin is likely too rusty at this point to avail me in persuading them to move places.
To the meat (or pulse+grain combo) of this post: my year-in-review. 31 (2017/18) marks the first time in almost a decade that I’ve lived outside of California, far from my safety net, supply chain, support network. But living as a husband, father and full-time employee is a helluva difference from living as a college student–the lack of family or long-time friends has made much more of an impact on me the last year in Rochester than during college in Annapolis. Frankly, it’s exhausting, all this adulting. There have been quite a few times during 31 (i.e., this past year, if that wasn’t clear) that I’ve keenly felt my mental illness, or perhaps better put as non-neurotypicality (don’t worry, I’ve been on medication and working in therapy throughout). Not having a more usual brain chemistry just puts that much more of a strain on the already stressful life of an early-career, middle-class-yet-struggling millenial–the situation that the vast majority of my same-aged friends are in. I’ll be turning my focus toward building up my support network in Rochester and connecting more consistently with my already-established network in other places. Life (in general and as myself) is slowly energy-draining, so I need to work on recharging my batteries (recall what I said about clichés) to make 32 a more stable, more fulfilled, and more joyful year than 31.
31 was also somewhat turbulent intellectually. It took several months to decompress from my dissertation period and simultaneously get my sea legs at a new position and place in my career. From what I’ve been told, this is pretty much bog-standard for first semester/year after getting your PhD, but I was a little disappointed in myself for not hitting the ground running as I had imagined I would have. Eventually I realized (with not a little outside help) that 31 wasn’t a time to keep up the sprint of the past few years, but a time to re-focus my energy, get organized, establish good work habits, acquire new professional experience, and establish my profile as a researcher. These tasks are ongoing, without a specific goal or endpoint (they’re atelic activities, not accomplishments or achievements; see Aspect and the Bachelor(ette) if you’re not an aspect nerd). Getting used to focusing on activities has been an important accomplishment (!) of 31, which hopefully will set me up for a spate of accomplishments in 32, in publishing, presenting, job hunting and researching.
Well, in just a few minutes it’ll be my birthday here on the West Coast! So I’ll cut this post off here and wish myself an almost-happy-birthday! Thanks to all five of you for reading.