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Introspection: Killing Two Birds With One Stone

January 14, 2013

I didn’t write a post in which I wistfully (or PTSD-fully, depending on the topic) look back on 2012, nor did I write a “hooray, new year, new opportunities” post. The reason for that is simple: I have a January birthday and on the 14th, I turn 30: also cause for introspection (though really, any opportunity is a good opportunity for navel-gazing if you’re me). So with this post I hope to kill two birds with one stone: look back and forecast.

I’m not going to look back on my entire twenties, however. Goodness, those were filled with some… stuff. Let’s just call it that. Stuff. Despite the stuff, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Like I said in the post in which I reflected on turning 29, wandering has been a key point of my entire twenties. Studying, graduating, traveling, working, moving, studying again, traveling, working abroad, living abroad, still more traveling, studying abroad, working, working, working, grad school, graduating again and again – summed up like this it seems quite dull, when it’s been anything but. For proof, I only have to look at my life as a 29-year old.

(One of the great things of blogging is that it becomes so easy to look back on the things you’ve done/accomplished/failed at/and so on)

As I wrote in that introspective post a year ago, I’d just finished my first term of teaching and survived my first academic talk. At the time, I was overwhelmed with the newness that had descended onto my life and terrified of the thesis-writing process that was staring me in the face. Now, I am (some of you may find this difficult to believe, but it’s true) much more composed. Life is still not without its new experiences and challenges (nor will it ever be), but I’m convinced I’ll be able to kick the ass of whatever comes my way.

In 30th year of life, I did the following:

  • Despite struggles, setbacks, and near-insanity, I wrote and finished a master’s thesis and graduated almost cum laude (oh, The Infinity of Lists, you will always remain my most despised course). 
  • Completed my first year of teaching, successfully negotiated an almost full-time contract, and returned to work immediately after defending my thesis.
  • Went surfing for the first time, with my entire family. In the North Sea. On a very cold day. With a very strong current. It was tiring and I was awful at it, but it was a great thing to do nonetheless.
  • Learned that I still cry more when I’m angry than when I’m sad and I will still do so at the most inopportune moments.
  • Wrote the most popular thing I have ever written. Certain parts of it were quoted on other sites and were read more than 15,000 times. If only every single one of those readers had paid me a euro, I would have been able to make a real dent in my student loan payments…
  • On a whim, submitted abstracts to two completely different conferences, which were accepted by both. So in 2013 I will go to Toronto to talk about my thesis research and to England to present a paper on apocalyptic thought in Doctor Who.
  • Thanks to the generosity of family and scrounging pennies whenever possible, I was able to travel to London, Newcastle and Copenhagen (for my mom and stepfather’s 12.5 year wedding anniversary) despite not making a living wage until last September.
  • Lost my Oma. But this Christmas, she was with me in spirit as I laid out her nativity scene under my Christmas tree.
  • Got in touch with my inner manic pixie dream girl by seeing Florence + the Machine in concert not once, but twice, and finally allowing myself to love Mumford & Sons.
  • Helped organize an academic conference at which I learned so much and got to know amazing new people (and got to know the amazing people I already know a little better).
  • Got called a cougar. Yes, at age 29. I think technically I’m supposed to be a puma, though both words imply things that aren’t necessarily true. I just feel like it was a landmark moment for me nonetheless.
  • Discovered more worthwhile TV shows than I care to admit. Okay, I’ll admit to some. New Girl and Underemployed are both seriously underrated.
  • Decided to live life deliberately, but not like that poser Thoreau who wrote as though he’d lived wild at Walden, when actually he’d drop off his laundry with his mother every fortnight (or, you know, did the grown-up New England 19th century equivalent of that).

In my 31st year of life, I am looking forward to (among many other things) travelling to Toronto for conferencing and visiting friends, running a stellar 5K at the City-Pier-City run in The Hague, and getting my teaching certification. But tonight  I’ll start things off with a Mexican dinner to celebrate and, after that, a screening of my favorite musical of all time: Les Misérables.

I have a feeling 30’s going to be pretty, no matter what life tries to throw at me.

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