Celebrate Your Wins

It’s time to write.

Don’t get me wrong. In the (long) time that has passed since I’ve last posted here, I have written and submitted multiple postdoctoral fellowship applications – and got multiple postdoctoral fellowship rejection emails (too many to count – but I’ll try counting them when I write a post about postdoc applications), completed a PhD (I’ll write about that too), got pregnant (won’t write about that part. You’ll have to figure it out yourself), turned one of my dissertation chapters into an article, which got accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, gave birth to a beautiful daughter in the midst of a global pandemic, got one partial ‘yes’ that gave me a three months long postdoctoral fellowship (‘partial’ because I applied for a year’s fellowship and got three months), revised the article while watching my daughter asleep in the monitor beside me, won a prize for it (nope, not for being a writing-mum. For the article), sent a book proposal to a publisher – who then accepted it (!!!), and – hey, listing these makes me feel a bit better about not having an academic job yet! – here I am.

The day I submitted my revised article – with my then-three month old sleeping on the monitor

I really should write a post about all these rejections, how the future feels so uncertain, and how every rejection now feels like I’m letting not only myself, but my newborn daughter down. BUT – I woke up this morning (well, it was the third time I ‘woke up’ this morning. Babies do change one’s sleep patterns…) and felt like it was about time I set up some new muse traps. And I started writing this post – it’s been about ten minutes since I started, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write, just let it flow, and now I’m determined to just write one last paragraph and post it as it is (spoiler after finishing to write the post – it’s a bit more than one paragraph. But just a bit).

I started writing that first paragraph of this post with the intention of letting my multiple (kidding. But I am truly so grateful to all ten of you!) followers know what I’ve been up to, and possibly to make excuses for why I haven’t written here in over two years! And — Lo and behold! I accidentally trapped a muse. I swear I didn’t mean for it to happen. I guess sometimes you do just need to write and they will come (didn’t I say it myself somewhere in this very blog?). I’ve been feeling somewhat uninspired recently. It’s been almost a year since I submitted the final copy of my PhD thesis, and I still don’t have a ‘job’ – or a long-term postdoctoral fellowship, for that matter. My partner always tells me, like a mantra, to celebrate my wins. And I never do it. Because every single rejection trumps ten little win, or so it feels. Because it hurts. Because I forget the wins so very easily, or because these wins are often so quickly overshadowed by a failure – e.g. being shortlisted to a fellowship but then, following an interview, being told that they loved me but I’m their reserve candidate (never got that fellowship. I’ll apply again this year). But writing that first passage, I somehow feel just a little proud of myself. Maybe I don’t ‘feel accomplished’, but it’s an accomplished feeling – if this makes any sense.

I want to remember this one. I’m celebrating this feeling as a win now. And all the wins I’ve listed above – if never before, and if never again – at this moment in time, they count. This one is for you Matthew – with an apology for never listening to your advice.

And for anyone who needs it right now.

Write down your wins. Count them – don’t enumerate them, but have them count. They make even the failures feel much more educating than depressing.

What were your wins since I’d last written here in July 2018? Or this year? Or over the last decade?

Hope to see you here soon. In the meantime, stay safe and take care. I hear there’s some nasty virus going around…



Author: Avital Rom

I am a PhD student in the department of Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge, and an amateur Celtic harp player. In my blog I aim to explore creative processes and how to untangle them (a completely selfish venture, but if it leads me somewhere I would love to share!)

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