[Insert Generic New Year Blog Post Here]

This post is a quick (and late night) moment I had to reflect on 2020’s rather bizarre and insightful opportunities and developments that’d come into play.

So, we made it through 2020. It’s a strange feeling, it almost feels like the year never really existed. Although, it really did. Whilst we’ve all tried to keep our lives as normal as possible either through work, banana loafs or brushing the dust off of our sketch books we bought 4 years ago, it’s been far from normal during a time where everything seems to be evolving at a drastic rate and difficult to keep up with at times.

While we’ve been trying our best to stay afloat during this pandemic, both health wise and financially, the year has brought us the opportunity to develop our skill sets and bring out a potential within us that was maybe never explored into properly, or never known of. In this case, I uncovered a couple of things both in my professional and personal life which has brought me closer to understanding how I like to work and can effectively achieve the goals I didn’t believe could be so easily done.

I’ve been able to adapt to change a lot quicker and apply it into my work efficiently. I like a good pattern and structure in the way I work, so to have no choice but to go and work from home and shield myself has been quite a surreal change; I was used to going for breakfast in the library café with a couple of colleagues to start the day. I miss the socialising which was free at hand with people across the table from me. I’ve had to allow myself to try and embrace this change to keep my mental health in check and not let myself fall too hard if it was proving to be challenging at times, especially with the high speed that work keeps evolving itself at to keep up with government guidance and future needs in the academic world. Trying to surround myself with positivity and silly, little trinkets was key to help me cope with the adaption of this morbid turn of events. This brings me onto my second discovery.

Even though these past 9 months have brought challenges and new methods of working in which you could agree is very isolating, my creative work has allowed me to be experimental with the lack of resources and equipment available, and in some ways a lot more imaginative. It’s made me rely on the tools I already possess and has introduced new projects that have required immediate self-taught design skills for the purposes of teaching and learning. Whilst I’d assisted in the design of an e-learning course from the previous year with my team and partners of an European-funded project, I never thought I’d be independently designing and co-designing learning materials and playful practices to host virtual escape rooms (VERs) for a pilot within the institution, and potentially for another European-funded project. As well as having the VERs to focus my work time on, I’d designed and adopted the administration of an online course for an new initiative which has gone out to all of the CU Groups to host the peer-to-peer mentoring programme which is supplied and supported by Vygo. I’ve been actively monitoring the progression and registrations of student mentors taking the peer-to-peer course and providing Programme Managers summaries/reports since its creation until further developments of the initiative naturally progresses. Amidst all of this, I am still learning from errors and expanding my knowledge.

I don’t want to drag this post out any more than I already have done, but I felt like it was important to reflect on the lessons and skills learnt in 2020, and how it had a positive impact on my professional career and personal life. While there are elements of my life that I still feel semi-insecure with, I can wholeheartedly say I accomplished a lot last year and it will only continue in 2021. I would encourage anyone to do the same and apply it into their new year to combat the difficult times we’re still in. We’ve got nothing to lose, so spend a little time to improve, accept support, and help make ourselves blossom 🌸

P.S. I learnt how to make candles last year and think they’re pretty top-notch 👌

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