The rollercoaster that has been 2020…

Since finishing the 12 days of blogmas, life hasn’t exactly been how I pictured it would be! The year started with my Museum Traineeship Application being rejected, which led to a lot of introspection and the realisation that not only did I not have ‘what it takes’ to work for a museum in a paid capacity, but that I genuinely enjoyed and missed volunteering. I spoke to staff at the Museum of Archaology and Anthropology and enrolled as a Front of House volunteer, volunteering on a more regular basis.

“Great! I can volunteer every week!”, I excitedly thought… And then the COVID-19 pandemic happened…

I’ve not been in any museum since mid-March. The MAA isn’t reopening until the new academic year, and my capacity to volunteer will entirely depend on whether it is safe for me – as someone with compromised immunity – to return.

I’ve ‘met up’ virtually, over Zoom, with the rest of the team on a couple of occasions whilst in self-isolation, which has been lovely… but I do miss museum-ing. And yet, I have not had the time to dedicate to much ‘virtual’ museum engagement! I’ve been working full-time as a member of staff within the University of Cambridge; I started in my office-based role in February, only to end up working from home since mid-March! My job has been really fulfilling, but has left me feeling completely drained at times. The little spare time I’ve had has been filled with online courses, skyping my family, growing-my-own and attempting to stay sane by keeping life ticking over as ‘normally’ as possible – cooking, cleaning, gardening, and so on.

It has been a *very* strange time. I’m actually relatively surprised by how well I’ve coped, given how I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past. It’s been far from easy, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve not become a total hermit, or picked up a bad habit, or completely buckled under the pressure of living every day in a contained environment. There were a couple of occassions when times were particularly tough: I had a real crisis of self-esteem with my work, because isolation and reduced communication meant I struggled to position myself within the team; and my partner and I were meant to be going on holiday to Hawaii – a trip that was two years in the making – having not holidayed together since 2018, but that trip was inevitably cancelled. I know, such a hard life... I’ve felt very lucky, in fact, to live in Cambridge and have the luxury of a nice garden and the support of a great partner… I know many others have not been so lucky…

So, what does this mean going forward? I *hope* to keep working broadly within education, and I *hope* that the pandemic improves to the point where, at the very least, people are safer than they have been. I’m not where I imagined I would be a year ago, when I graduated. I don’t have a museum *job* and I don’t have control over my career. But, actually, I’m doing okay. I’m looking forward to eventually returning to volunteer at the MAA. I’m looking forward to seeing where this bonkers rollercoaster will take me next. I’m looking forward to making it out the other end of…*this*.

I hope people are keeping safe and well. Please, continue to take care.