At last, 2020 is drawing to a close and I’m betting there are not too many of us who are sorry to see the back of it. As we stumble towards its finish line, you might be feeling that you just want to fast-forward into 2021, to bask in our glorious, vaccinated future. But, as I have discussed in a previous post, routine is important, and little rituals have taken on even more significance in the absence of other things to fill our time. So in time-honoured tradition, I have been engaging in a bit of end-of-year reflection, thinking about what went well this year, what didn’t, and what I’ve got to be grateful for. Now, I know most people’s gratitude journals (!) aren’t exactly bursting at the seams this December, but if this year has taught me anything, it’s about the supreme importance of human connection and our relationships – particularly the ones that nourish and sustain us in times of hardship.
In my last couple of posts, I have been reflecting on these relationships and on the phenomenon that many of the people who have the most impact on us, might not even be aware of the ways in which they have helped us. So in this post, which I hope might light up the end of a dark year with even just a pinprick of positivity, I have reached out to fellow Study Hubbers and friends for them to share their stories of these important relationships, along with any advice they’ve received that we can all learn from:
Study Hub’s Beth Ward wrote to shout out Kathryn Lovewell: ‘We met when we both worked on an NCS [National Citizen Service] wave in Wandsworth! She was such a kind person and made such a difference to all of those around her. She encouraged me to come to her course on mindful self-compassion (via Kind Mind Academy) and in doing so helped me to learn how to begin to love myself.’ Kathryn’s advice takes the form of a question, ‘Ask yourself “what is the kindest thing you can do for yourself right now?”’, which is definitely a question I’m going to be keeping in mind as the year winds down.
My friend Abimbola Johnson Olabode mentioned Dr Sola Fola-Alade, saying: ‘I first met him in church. He has helped me to learn that the greatest wealth a person can have and develop is character; and the greatest legacy a person can leave behind is a good name.’ The advice Abimbola wanted to pass on from Dr Fola-Alade is about staying accountable: ‘Those that make excuses rarely make progress.’
Another friend wanted to give a shout out to the lab post-docs who supported them while they were doing their PhD: ‘They were the sounding boards and guides in the lab. They helped reassure when experiments didn’t work, sharing experiences of when that had happened to them. They helped give suggestions for amendments for experiments and taught general science skills and specific ones.’ Their advice? ‘Be precise, accurate and logical, and don’t engage in tedious grunt work that you know isn’t helping you reach your goals.’
Thank you to my friends and fellow Study Hubbers for sharing their stories of the relationships that have helped to shape them. Meaningful and collaborative relationships with people who, through their words and actions, support the people around them and their communities are definitely something that I do want to carry forward from 2020 into 2021, if nothing else.