I’m halfway through the HE Aurora Leadership course for 20/21 and although it’s been a different format, being online and condensed due to covid, having the Aurora days to listen, learn, and reflect on my personal ambitions has been a huge boon over the last six months.
At the point we entered lockdown in March 2020, I’d been struggling with severe burnout following an intense five years of career progression, life changes, and completing a part time distance PG Masters degree while working full time. I felt empty, adrift, low on energy and drive, and unsure of where to direct the little I could muster.
Aurora has been a space where I can hear from other women who are ambitious but also searching for their path. Yesterday’s session involved some specific work I’d like to record and reflect on here so I can come back in 6 months, 1, 2, or 5 years and see where it has led.
Achievements, challenges, & aspirations
Recognising achievements that are important to me: I’m proud of completing my undergraduate degree. It took me seven years to complete due to changing course (from a double degree in Environmental Science & Journalism switching to Professional Writing and Editing, & Literature), taking time away from the degree in order to work and support myself, and then returning to complete it part time. I’m proud of the recognition I’ve received for my integration of playful learning and engagement into my teaching. I’m proud of the found family and community I’ve built since moving to Scotland in 2008. And I’m proud of persisting to complete my PG Masters in Library & Information Studies.
From a leadership perspective I’m interested in encouraging and supporting the skill development of others and extremely mindful of the flexibility and time that is often required in order to achieve.
Recognising challenges: I’ve been managing anxiety and depression since my teens, it has definitely impacted the way I work, live, and love. I’ve gone through a divorce level relationship breakup in the last few years that absolutely devastated me even though it was the right thing for all involved, this has also impacted the way I work, live, and love.
I’ve learned to allow others to see my vulnerability, which has been hard, no lie. Being authentic and honest allows us to connect, to share our humanity and our compassion.
Identifying aspirations: This was difficult, as it’s what I’ve been struggling with since hitting hard burnout towards the end of 2019. Big picture I aspire to contribute to a greater good and it’s important to me that my professional life involves positive outreach. Looking into this a little deeper, what I want to achieve is leadership by positive example and encouraging confidence to promote action.
We were handed a list of 58 defined values and asked to select five that resonated as being core to our sense of self. The ones that spoke to me were:
Curiosity – Interested in everything, exploring
Family security – Safety for loved ones
Choosing own goals – Selecting own purposes
Social justice – Correcting injustice, care for the weak
Unity with nature – Fitting into nature
According to the map of themes grouping my values fall under Self-direction (curiosity, choosing own goals), Universalism (being part of nature, social justice), and Security (safety for loved ones). Seems legit.
So how can apply the above towards my aspirations of leadership by positive example and encouraging confidence? I guess this is a setting out of goals and intentions.
I love to facilitate learning, this is where I absolutely come to life. If I can also do that while bringing playful engagement and active learning that is my absolute jam. Right now I’m volunteering to design a serious/educational game with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland and young volunteers and it is feeding my soul to be able to do so. More of this type of outreach in the future is a definite priority for me.
Education and access to information is of core importance, so I’d like to try increasing my activity in Wikipedia editathons this year.
Safety for my loved ones, I’ve been hermiting away this last year but I’d like to be more active. I’m particularly concerned for the safety of my trans partners, friends, and found family in the face of rising transphobia in the UK. Whenever I see transphobic content shared intentionally or not by colleagues it sets off my fight or flight response, neither of which would actively help so I tend to make note and then go hug virtually or in person my trans peeps. I’m seeking out ways to be more actively involved in protecting and providing allyship to the wider community in addition to the love and support for my own trans peeps.