Hello! I am seven days post conference in (very) sunny Seville and am right back into the swing of things. I was once again reminded during my week away of the importance of stepping out of routine and day-to-day life once in a while to get inspiration and creative juices flowing. And talking of creative juices, that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
My UCAS personal statement began:
“We are all different, it is the one thing we have in common”
*Cringe*. It is so incredibly cliché, but like most clichés, it’s also very true. The last few years in academia I have become aware of a number of differences that at first made me feel a bit like an alien, or at least someone on the sidelines that perhaps didn’t ‘fit in’. And that is exactly true, I didn’t ‘fit in’ to the ‘typical’ and I’ve learnt that is perfectly ok, and I’ve actually come to love it.
When it comes to charity, I’ll be completely honest and say that I would much rather give my time than my money. Don’t get me wrong, I do give money to charity, and I’m so glad that others do too. We can help so much. But for me, personally, I like to get involved. To get stuck in and give time is more rewarding to me than giving money. For one thing, you always know where your time has gone.
For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed organising charity events or volunteering. One of my earliest memories of doing something for a charity was a 1.5 mile stilt walk at the age of 9 years old. I was (and kind of still am) very proud of that achievement! But all through my education I have taken opportunities to volunteer. Sometimes these are one off occasions, other times they are more formal and regular. Some examples include volunteering for a telephone listening service for students, organising a kids Christmas party, being chair of the Bath Association of Psychology Students and currently, volunteering at the Carers’ Centre in Bath and Radstock.
Being at university is a fantastic time to volunteer and I know that my volunteering track record has lengthened significantly since first coming away to uni. Most universities have staff in their Student Union who are employed especially to arrange opportunities.
I couldn’t really tell you what it was that made me volunteer in the first place or what inspired me to do it, but I can certainly tell you why I love it and all the ways in which I have benefitted from giving some of my time. Today I’d like to share some of the things I have gained from giving…
A couple of weeks ago I attended an event at The Royal Institution in London called ‘The Science of Stress’. I probably wouldn’t have ventured to London mid-week if it hadn’t been for the fact that my supervisor Professor Julie Turner-Cobb was amongst the three experts presenting and then providing a question and answer panel session. It was great to support her and to see other individuals in the field present their work, and I was really glad that I went.
As someone who quite likes a bit of event management and organising an event, I was thinking on the train back to Bath, what makes a good panel event? Or any event for that matter? It really was a fantastic evening and I came away feeling enthused, excited, curious and impressed by all that I had heard. It was worth the journey to London and back.
So, what was it about this event that was so inspiring and excellent?
A very dear friend of mine recently started a Masters in Psychology. I’ve had the chance to find out more about the course and chat over some of the module content. My friend and I are quite an enthusiastic pair in general and I think we both have a healthy dose of optimism and are always looking for the positive in situations. So it’s not really any surprise that I’ve found myself really enjoying talking about research and psychology. Even to the point of hashing over research paradigms and philosophy over dinner! To some people this might seem ‘uncool’. But we’re both enthusiastic about these things – we wouldn’t be committing years of our lives to studying it otherwise! What would be the point?
But these conversations have really made me realise how ‘playing it cool’ is seriously, seriously uncool. If you’re enthusiastic or excited about something, why hide it? Why squash it down, feign disinterest and deny yourself the joy or fun you could have?
I have a confession to make.
Earlier this year I really, really wanted to drop out.
There. I said it.