I have been gifted with a rare opportunity.
My PhD left has me quite mentally and physically drained. I wanted to do the best damn job possible, and sadly that comes at a cost sometimes. I wouldn’t advocate making this sort of sacrifice to anyone (see my previous post about mental health and your PhD), it was a decision I made myself.
It took me about 3.5 years into my PhD to recognise that I had achieved what I wanted, and done as much as was possible with my time. I’ve got quite a successful social media presence, have campaigned relentlessly for ‘open science’ practices, have written a dinosaur book for kids, and have 5 more which I’m consulting on now as a result. I’ve become a freelance science writer for venues like Discover Magazine, and have published 11 research papers at the end. I’ve been invited to lead numerous workshops, give talks, and attend a variety conferences around the world. I don’t know how you measure the success of a PhD, but these seem like decent indicators if anything.
But at the end of it all, I have sacrificed relationships, and some times other aspects of my social life for this, so there has been a cost. And one which I don’t regret, but would not wish upon anyone, unless they thought deeply about it and recognised that this is the pathway for them. My ethos was always ‘work hard, play harder’, and the experiences of both have been unforgettable. But after several years of burning as bright as possible, I’m a bit out of fuel and need some time to recover.
My plan is to start at home, in Leicester. From there, to London for my PhD viva (eek!), then Budapest to explore, then Utah for a conference, Brussels for a keynote talk about Open Communication, London for a panel discussion on the future of peer review, Washington DC for OpenCon, Berlin for our OpenCon Satellite event, and then December-January in Thailand. After that it’s still a bit open, but chances are I’ll explore Cambodia and Vietnam alone for a bit, depending on visa things. I will be using these experiences to grow as much as possible in a personal and professional capacity.
So with this blog, I don’t know what’s going to happen either. I don’t want it to become another wanky ‘look how awesome traveling is’ blog, but if I do have some useful realisations or learning moments, I might share them if I believe they can help others a little. I recognise that the opportunity I’ve been granted is a rare privilege too – I’ve managed to save up enough cash to travel a bit (after being utterly skint for 10 years as a student..), and am lucky enough to have a flexible job that allows this. I’ll still be working for ScienceOpen on the way and hopefully freelance science writing/consulting, so am not completely disassociating myself from that part of life (also money is good).
It’s gonna be tough and bumpy along the way. I have no expectations of what will come, who I’ll meet, or what will happen at the end. All I know is that it’s needed, a rare opportunity that I have to embrace, and whatever happens I’ll emerge stronger and ready to take on the next big phase of life! I’ll see some of you on the journey too 🙂
Note: I realise that a lot of information about the potential catalyst for this has been shared by certain parties (*epic side eye*) around on various social media platforms. All I ask is that if you have seen these posts that you reserve any possible judgements until you have spoken directly with me, and I will be more than happy to answer any questions. I’m quite loathe to share sensitive personal information in public, and would rather keep it that way.