Once Upon a Time…

…there was a girl who loved books. Honestly, the obsession started when her parents read to her. It was fascinating how those squiggly lines turned into words, and that those words painted pictures inside of her head. Pictures of distant lands and people that seemed so real. The moment she learnt how to read herself, she would go to the library to bring home stacks of books, devouring any tomes she could find.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her childhood hero – and later, Hermoine, for obvious reasons.

That little eight-year-old me would definitely high-five me if she saw where we ended up.

This blog sprung into my mind, because my 23rd birthday is coming up, and somehow I felt like I had accomplished nothing during my 22nd life-year. It’s easy to see those goals that you have yet to reach, and difficult to truly appreciate the ones you succeeded in reaching already. Almost imperceptibly, they flow by, not to be seen again unless we consciously look back.

So this is me looking back at a wonderful, difficult, amazing, hard year. It was a year in which I took a plane alone, for the first time. A year in which I met dozens of new people. I made new friends, and sadly, also lost a few. I graduated, then was rejected for multiple PhDs. Got a part time job, lost the part time job. Got accepted into a PhD programme – and started looking for ways to make it happen. I travelled to Oxford as academic visitor, and presented my first academic paper at an international conference. I played games, was bored, hung out with friends, felt alternatively discouraged and hopeful, and finally, I read.

And that little girl who would take home the biggest and longest books she could find would be proud. She would absolutely love it that I’m working on a career that incorporates our two favourite things: learning,* and stories. It’s not an easy path, it’s quite a challenge to be honest. People will look at you weird. They might not understand that you don’t want to become a dentist, lawyer, engineer, or cook. On the other hand there are those who embrace the weirdness and are lovely and supportive. They’re the keepers.

My reading habits have changed over the years. I’ve gone through phases where I exclusively read fantasy, or just non-fiction. Some desolate years of nothing at all. There were children’s books, young-adult books, adult books. Classics and contemporary works. Books in English and Dutch, and sometimes even German. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what sort of books they are. I just know that I am happiest when I read.

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(* You said doing homework was one of your hobbies. That got old very quickly.)

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4 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time…

  1. I still find it great that you took this plane ride alone because that meant we got to spend time together 🙂 so,yeah, major accomplishment in my book! It seems we haven’t talked properly in a while because I had no idea about PhD, paper presentation etc. Should not have happened. So here’s to a year you can look back on proudly!
    xx Karin

  2. What a lovely post, Celine! Seems to me like you’ve accomplished a whole lot this past year. 🙂 Getting a PhD position is absolutely kickass, and I’m sure you’ll do amazing! I believe in you 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Celine! I’m so glad I was one of the people you got to meet while 22. I can’t wait to hang out again!
    Congratulations on all your accomplishments in the past year and for not giving up through all the change and hardships. I think you’re awesome!
    Which books did you read it German?

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