Being so utterly disappointed in Facebook’s interpretation of my 2016, I decided to think seriously about how my year actually has gone. As far as things go, it’s been a pretty big one. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be reviewing my year by alternating between the worst and best bits of the year. I hope that the introspection and discussion can set us up for a better year next year.
Today we’re looking at a point which was almost as good as getting a free ice-cream on a warm beach you weren’t expecting to visit today. That’s right, it’s number 4.
Presenting an invited talk.
By my own admission, I’ve overworked myself this year. Still, working hard does occasionally have some reward. I got the opportunity to give an invited talk at the Energy Materials & Nanotechnology (Photonics) meeting in Barcelona this year; basically a chance to stand up in front of a load of experienced academics and show off.
Now, normally this sort of thing wouldn’t really feature in a top-5 moments because I’m well adjusted to giving talks & presentations, and frankly they don’t usually feel like big events any more. Nevertheless, taken in context of the frankly shitty year I’d had until that point, it felt like a major high at the time. I spoke really well, got my points across coherently, and got compliments from the audience afterwards. What more can you ask for?
well, how about this: having that external validation was fundamentally important for me at a time when I was going through writing my thesis. The comparative lows this brought me through made me really convinced that I had nothing interesting or original to say, coming to a head right at the time I was supposed to give this talk. I managed to overcome that and prove my mental block wrong (for once). That enabled me to actually finish my thesis and get on with my life – without which I probably would have just dropped out.
So, a high that shouldn’t have been important but was elevated to importance by a year of persistent personal lows. I don’t think that negates its significance, though, and I’m glad I got to do it.