Still here.

Jan. 1st, 2014 11:46 pm
morsla: (Default)
[personal profile] morsla
It's not much of an epitaph for 2013, but it's appropriate enough: in most regards, it feels like virtually nothing has changed since I sat here last year (and didn't end up writing anything back then...). One thing I've learned this year is that some kind of writing is better than nothing at all, so here I am again - this time, putting some thoughts onto the screen for the benefit of some future self to take a look at.

In 2013 I made only a few changes to my life, but the effects of those have shaped everything I've done.

I resigned from a job that I had loved and then grown to hate. In doing so, I left a job with a stable income at a time when [ profile] aeliel was planning to be out of the workforce for at least a year. Financial stress over that decision was crippling me, but I made the right choice: I'd lost all sense of value for myself, my skills and my time. I felt as though I was constantly failing to be smart enough, work hard enough, or work long enough, and walked away from the job loathing myself. That took some time to move on from.

For most of the year, I've worked on various part-time and casual jobs: trading stability for flexibility, and balancing uncertainty over my jobs with far more agency over my life. That has made a huge difference to my state of mind: feeling back in control of who I am, and far more capable at negotiating the demands and expectations that others have of me. It also gave me the opportunity to put my family first, finding work that fits around the time that I want to spend figuring out how to be a Dad. That time has been priceless.

Jobs come and go. Money comes and goes. If my choices meant that I missed out on a "perfect" job, I reasoned that a truly perfect job would still be around in a few years from now. Spending time watching Ariadne grow up though... that is something that I know I would regret missing out on. She has changed so quickly over the year that I feel as though the rest of my life may as well have stood still. As luck would have it I did end up finding work with a company that I have enormous respect for, and that has family-friendly working arrangements at its core. Work and money have still been extremely tight at a few points this year (a family and a mortgage on half an income has led to plenty of stress on that front), but I don't regret the year that I have had.

Of course, the other factor dominating my year (and the years before it) has been my PhD, and that really did look like it had stalled - or at least slowed to a glacial pace. On that front I'm in essentially the same position as I've sat in for the past two years: close to the end, and trying to get it finished. Each time I sit down to write, I think I manage to halve the remaining distance between me and the submission day. There's some faint light at the end of that particular tunnel though - the slightest glow of something approaching, still hazy and indistinct. It might be dawn finally breaking out there in the wider world; it might be the headlight of an oncoming train. Either way there's a change on the way. I gave an 80,000 word thesis draft to my supervisor just before Christmas, and have a few weeks to finish writing before the university gives up on me entirely.

So: few outward changes in 2013, but an important time to make hard decisions about the type of life I want to have with my family. In 2014, it's time to finish this PhD before it kills me, and then move on to all the rest of my life - some new challenges, and some things that have been put on hold for the last few years. I've stayed here long enough to know that I want to go somewhere else: the coming year will be a time to embrace the changes, big and small, that will help me to get there.

Date: 2014-01-01 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that you are doing amazing work, and admire just how much you can get done with everything that is going on. <3

Date: 2014-01-02 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks :) Most of the time, it feels like I'm actually not getting very much done at all. Somehow it still manages to add up to something over a long enough period of time, though.

Date: 2014-01-02 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If I can be syrupy sweet about it, you can always tell a parent's priorities when their child is as sweet natured as Ariadne is. :)

Date: 2014-01-02 09:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I second this endorsement - Ariadne's such a great kid and it's down to the two of you being great parents.

September 2014

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