End of year review

2016 has come and gone, like most years before it, providing a suitable vantage point to look back. Despite conflicting with the popular narrative of 2016, this year was extremely good to me. It involved facing many challenges, the most notable being setting up shop in a new country, and satiated my wanderlust. Not to succumb to the arbitrariness of New Year Resolutions or the sappiness of motivational mumbo-jumbo, but a few years back I conceived a vague notion to try to make each year better than the last, become more mindful and be a better human being. This unending search for improvement has, somewhat paradoxically, left me suitably content.

2016 was a year of experiences, which can be split approximately into the academic and social sides of my life. Not unexpectedly, the undertaking of a PhD has allowed (read: necessitated) me to absorb a wealth of information on my field. Though a common trope, all this knowledge really just impresses on me how much I don’t know. But finally being forced to understand and conceptualise new ideas has sparked a desire to compound on this and learn even more. So when I speak of academic experiences, I am more referring to the general concept of acquiring new knowledge. Outside of university, I am reading more articles online and have been immersed in educational youtube videos. At the bottom of this post I have listed the top articles and videos I came across this year (though these may not necessarily have been produced in 2016). While I’ve been expanding my sources for news and information, in an effort to challenge not reinforce stale ideas, most of these articles I refer to come from only a handful of sites. It is because these routinely provide considered discussion on important stories, while also balancing this with the philosophical discourse which often comes with these topics.

Additionally, my efforts to write more on this site have also propelled me into reading and learning about topics a bit further away from my core interests. The more I’ve done this, the more I’ve solidified in my mind how important putting pen to paper is in fomalising ideas. Though I’ve come into each piece with a certain stance or belief about the topic, once I start thinking about the “facts” I know on the topic I quickly come to the realisation that.. I don’t really know that many facts. I’m getting the impression that a lot of the opinions I’ve formed are made largely on guesstimations about how I think the world ought to work. Searching and learning about these topics has forced me to be open to changing my opinion, a skill which my stubborn mindset is getting used to.

So now that we’re on the topic of this website. How have we done over the first year? Well one’s measure of success depends on the original goals. I honestly had no external goals set for this project so.. success? I believe for any sort of endeavour, particularly creative, the motivations have to be internal. That is to say that you’re doing it for yourself or for the pleasure of the task alone. Never go into a pursuit with the endgame of becoming viral, popular and rich. You're more than likely to fail and even if you succeed it’s a pretty hollow prize. Bettering yourself is far more likely and satisfying. So am I satisfied? Yes. Success. Over 2016 I wrote 12 blog posts and 7 considerations, with a grand total of 14,601 words. This averages to over one article a month, which I’m pretty pleased about. The bulk of the word count is taken up by my Considerations, despite the lower article count (though this could be expected with a greater length per post). I don’t know if there's anything further which can be inferred from these numbers, but I like numbers so I decided to do the maths irrespective.

Now on to the personal side of things. I think we can safely assume all I’m going to talk about is travel. Though not quite as prolific as when I lived in the Netherlands. I did my fair share of trekking about Europe over 2016. This includes Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Newcastle, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Grenada, Ronda, Cadiz, Tarifa, Bialystok and Cologne. For 2017 my sights have been set on Eastern Europe. Its cheaper and, in my opinion, more fun and interesting than the classical European destinations (which I have already thoroughly trodden through anyway). Again, I’m always on the lookout for suggestions so put your hand up if you think I’m missing out on any gems.

So 2017. Here we are. Be good to us and we’ll be good to you.

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Callum Lamont