PhD Candidate in Art History at University of Nottingham
7 things about me:
1. I am an organised disorganised person.
I'm putting this one first because I know that if I don't I will forget to include it altogether, because I am disorganised and forgetful. I've been this way my whole life, my primary school report cards reading like a tragic and repetitive novella, in which my lack of organisation skills continue to win out over my ever-elusive "academic potential".
When I was about 10, those report cards started to really frustrate me. I hated forgetting my homework and seeming constantly unable to manage myself. Like most people, I just wanted to know where my things were, where I needed to be and when.
This is why I love organisation tools. Over the years since receiving those report cards I have honed an arsenal that helps me to stay on top of my life. I am quite strict with myself, writing up timetables, using excel spreadsheets, keeping a bullet journal and setting countless reminders on my phone. My system isn't tidy, but it works. I now only forget my homework 30% of the time.
2. My dog is my best friend
I got my dog, Blazer, when I was 17, having begged my parents for one since I was 6. He still lives at my parent's house in Kent, so I frequently head home for a study weekend because (in addition to getting to see my family - more on them later) I'm convinced that I get more work done when I'm with him. I always feel like he's rooting for me to succeed, and he's good at listening to my thoughts on post-feminist theory in Sex and the City. My dad once told me that my adoration for Blazer was misguided, and that if I were to die alone at home, the dog would probably eat me. I try not to think too much about that.
3. I love public speaking.
Don’t get me wrong, presenting to an audience is terrifying. Emma Watson has spoken about her fears regarding speech-making and if its scary enough for Emma, its scary enough for me. But, nerve-wracking as it can be, public speaking facilitates the possibility that the ideas that you have nursed to some level of fruition might take root in the minds of others, which is essentially thrilling. I also enjoy giving a performance, and finding new ways to present my research in an entertaining or thought-provoking fashion is always good fun.
4. I'm always trying (and usually failing) to be healthy.
Because I’m a human person.
5. I have a disorderly work life balance.
Because I’m a human person. But seriously, although I have my methods of keeping work and life on track, I go through phases where I struggle to stop work in the evening, tending to feel like I can squeeze an extra working hour or 5 into my day. Conversely, I have also had week-long stretches of non-productivity, when just the thought of sitting down at my desk is unbearable. However, I usually find that these slovenly days immediately precede a longer period of energy and inspiration so I like to think that all of those hours come out in the wash, as it were. I also find that keeping my work in the back of my mind even during my off-time gives my thoughts the space to develop quasi-organically, and always keep a notebook on hand during these slow periods.
6. I love to travel
I have been very lucky to be able to do lots of travelling since finishing school in 2009. From Budapest to Alabama, I’m fascinated by the ways and reasons that cultures (and their respective visual cultures) develop in different ways, and will take any opportunity to take a trip abroad. I’m also a big photography-lover, and enjoy stocking my Instagram with pictures from my adventures at home and abroad.
7. I'm #blessed with a great support system.
My family and friends have been really supportive of decisions as a fledgling researcher. My mum is always there to look after me after a long stretch of work, and helps to ensure that I become a well-rounded adult by teaching me how to make curries and encouraging me to come mountain-biking with her in the forest.
My dad is a teacher and writer (you can check out his website here) and keeps me grounded by forcing me to check my entitlement. When I’m whinging over the fact that someone deleted all my episodes of Teen Mom 2 off of the Sky Planner, he reminds me how lucky I am to have a tv, a roof to watch it under and an adorable doggo to watch it with. He's right, of course. I’m ludicrously privileged to have the life that I have, and missing an episode of Teen Mom 2 is probably the most 'basic white girl' problem that has ever happened.
My big sister Mary is the quintessential over-achieving older sibling. Like me, she went to Nottingham for her undergraduate degree (she studied American Literature and took a year away at Middlebury College, Vermont) then, unlike me, she managed to secure a scholarship for her Master’s degree. She’s now Senior Editor and Science Writer at the Science and Technology Facilities Council and writes a bi-weekly column in the Oxford Mail. So, yeah...😐. She also happens to be a really kind, supportive and brilliant person. Click here to visit her website.
I live in Leicester with my partner, Jon. He is incredibly tolerant of the piles of books that I leave all over our apartment and the fact that I have commandeered the entire spare room as my home study. He doesn’t bug me too much about my cruddy work/life balance, but is an excellent gauge of my stress levels, ensuring that I break for ice cream if my research begins to overwhelm me. He works as a Project Manager down in Northampton and spends his spare time binge-watching TED Talks.
There are too many other wonderful and wise people in my life to mention them all here by name (not least my lead supervisor Gaby Neher, who you can read more about in My Research), but I feel so fortunate to have them all here to back me up.
On the other hand, there are always going to be those who are intent on devaluing your achievements. There are people who love to lecture me about why the humanities in general, and my PhD in particular, are a waste of time/money. These insults to my life choices can of course be a real pain, but as long as my awesome support network of family, friends and fellow students is there to reassure me that an understanding of this world’s history is obviously worth collectively pursuing, I’m back on track before I know it.
So that's my personal life in less than 1500 words. I'm sure I will expand on many of these points in seperate posts, but if you have any burning questions about this list, do get in touch or leave a comment below.