A few hours to go and a new decade is stepping in. It is quite daunting to think about how time is moving so fast. I can definitely tell. My body is changing. New knowledge and skills are gained. My list of friends is constantly expanding. Existing ties are getting stronger. But more importantly, I am also learning to approach life in a different perspective. First, I have learned to deeply value those people who have always been supporting me, through the brightest and outrageous time in my life. Second, I have also come to terms that one has to find ways in replenishing one’s mind and soul. One thing is certain, one has to trust oneself and continuously foster ties among people, communities and institutions.
Year 2019 is bidding goodbye. Here’s 2020, all set with surprises, walking into my life. I am definitely excited for the coming year. But, I am also thinking about how will I be able to accomplish so many things without breaking myself. In this vein, I choose the word ‘replenish’ to further connect to myself, value self-care, nurture relationships, and be compassionate to others. Before 2019 walk away, let me share my some of my reflections.
2019 has been a huge year for me. I finally got a continuing position in academia. I did my Visiting Scholar in the UK. In getting used to the publication process, I published several research outputs. I received a research grant to further advance my work on carework. I signed two book contracts. I did media engagements by writing opinion pieces and feature stories. And I also generated new connections and networks in academia. It’s definitely a year packed with a lot of milestones.
However, working too much took a toll on my health. Truth be told, I had been working so late, and I mean super late, over the past months. I was reading and sometime writing up to 2 am, considering I have an 8 class the next day. Saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity contributed to exhaustion. In fact, I was telling my partner that I feel that I am not doing enough. But in fact I already have too much on my plate. As a result of treating oneself like a machine, by August, I started seeing a Chiropractor. Because I was working for long hours without having proper breaks, I started having pains on my chest and back. I should have known that this. I have a scoliosis.
The Chiropractor taught me some routines to manage my back. As I wasn’t happy with the results, I eventually started seeing a physio. The physio taught me some effective routines to manage my back. Eventually I felt better. So now, as part of managing my back issues, I have started doing stretches, lots of back and chest exercise, and incorporated ergonomics in my work space. I have also begun setting up my work space at home and I am very delighted to be working in my ‘hub’ with proper support. Thanks to my partner who has been really supportive and helpful in ensuring that I am fit and fab! Certainly, I will definitely be paying attention to taking care of myself in the coming years. I need to replenish myself in order to reach for my goals, as a person, scholar, and a human being.
This year has been full of travels. I was able to visit the UK in June. I was a Visiting Scholar in the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe). It was an honour to meet and work with mobilities scholars and researchers. I also had the opportunity to present in the University College London. On the visited, I visited several tourist spots in London as well as in Scotland. I was brave enough to travel to Scotland, alone. Take note that flying to the UK was my first long flight. Also, I celebrated my birthday in the UK! I also visited Adelaide with my partner early this year. Fun times, indeed. And in October, I was in Brisbane for my first Association of Internet Reserach (AoIR) Conference.
What’s fascinating about conference-related travel is re-discovering oneself and reconnecting to scholars. When I was in Lancaster, I participated in a writing-away session. The session was very helpful on many fronts. It was a unique experience, I say. There was so much focus. I listened to myself. I allowed words to flow. I let my ideas move my soul. It is through that moment that I it’s as if I transitioned into a different state. This, I believe, is about trusting myself and listening to my heart. The silence, the focus, and being aware of the environment have been pivotal in finding oneself. Reconnecting to scholars in my field is something that I also fully enjoy when I attend a conference. More often than not, being in a scholarly space is an opportunity to keep up with new research projects and to strengthen ties with friends and acquaintances in academia who live in other countries.
This year was about nurturing ties but also learning to create boundaries. I have fostered ties among colleagues who have been supportive of me. But I have also created boundaries to protect myself from different forms of pains and tensions. To replenish oneself is to create a safe and supportive space or environment for oneself. In such process, developing healthy connections may lead to fruitful outcomes, such as collaborative work and various engagements.
For 2020 and beyond, I am definitely prioritising my health and well-being as well as my relationships with my partner, family, friends, and networks. I know that it will be a very busy 2020 as I do another round of conferencing, work on research collaborations, write publications, produce my books, generate international networks, and kick off my new research project on mobility. But I will definitely be more disciplined in juggling work commitments and my personal relationships.
Amidst everything that happened in 2019, I am looking forward to the dawning of a new decade. I am committing myself to strengthening my core as a scholar who explores the changing face of digital inequalities in a mobile society. I am looking forward to producing more ground-breaking, nuanced, and ethical research work. But on top of these goals are setting and implementing strategies of keeping oneself fit, replenished, focussed, and sensitive to others.
My 2019 wouldn’t have been spectacular without the great people who stood by my side. I thank my partner, family, and friends in Melbourne, Brunei and the Philippines for all the love and care. I am also very grateful for my mentors in academia. They have been vital in moulding my capacity and identity as a scholar in my field. The mentoring process has inspired me to think about and produce critical research projects. I am also thankful for my friends in academia and my networks on Twitter. They have provided a welcoming space for an exchange of critical ideas, recommendations, and knowledge production. Most importantly, I thank God for all the blessings that he has showered on me.
I am welcoming 2020 with optimism. I have one wish for the year to come and hopefully that will be granted (hint: it's research related). Essentially, I will definitely be writing lots. There are publications and books to produce. Collaborative projects are happening. A research grant has to be submitted. I am also travelling to in some countries (Philippines, Singapore and the US) for a conference. But I am also looking forward to spending more time with my partner, family and friends. During my free time, I will be writing my personal thoughts in my journey. Some creative media projects will be happening, so watch out. Importantly, I will be leading a healthy lifestyle to keep me going and groovin.
In summary, I definitely assert that to replenish oneself is to be bold and brave. To do this, one must trust oneself and finding a space and time to reflect on what has been gained or lost. Sometimes, moving to a new territory, losing a loved one or enslaving oneself to work can lead to dispossession. It’s as if we no longer own our bodies and minds because of the many tragedies and crisis that cripple our lives. But we must learn to stand up and fight, not only for ourselves but for those who are often imprisoned by time, space, and social structures. In doing so, replenishing does not only fulfilling one’s needs and moving forward. Rather, it is about using one’s capacity and ability to open up conversations, spaces, encounters, and opportunities that may pave the way for the growth of each and everyone.
Looking forward a fabulous and replenished 2020!