Ten things I learned in the 2010s

File this one under "another blog post that tries to summarise a decade which, technically, won't be over for another year." For me, as I'm writing this, it's that weird time of the year between Chrismas and New Year's Day, and I'm fortunate to have plenty of time on my hands. So here's to reminiscing, one year at a time.

In the summer, I got my first academic management gig - at a summer school in the UK. We left Wrocław after two great years there, and moved back to Katowice. I learned that jobhunting is depressing. But none of the bad stuff mattered: I got married! Then we went on a honeymoon to Portugal - I learned that this place exists and fell in love with it.

I learned that the Polish ELT market was no longer enough for me. Fortunately, I got my first full time academic management job during that year - in Swansea. We left Poland and moved to the UK. I learned a lot about Swansea and Wales, and a lot about managing an English school (through good examples and otherwise). I also learned a lot about how living by the sea makes everything better.

So, that ELT management thing - despite getting an IATEFL scholarship, and despite going to Spain for a study visit - didn't work out. I learned, that year, a lot about spotting warning signs in future employers. This was the year we moved to London, and I got my first job with a publisher. I learned many things about flathunting in London - mainly how not to do it...

We moved in with two amazing people who would become housemates and friends for a long while. I learned about the value of finding the right sorts of people to live with. My publishing job meant I got to travel all around the south of England, meeting people in language schools and universities everywhere. This meant I got to find out how others learn, teach, and discover languages. In the meantime, I keep making content for my own language learning website, and that teaches me lots about ELT communities.

I learned a lot about how my mind and body works. The job was great but demanding; London was great but overwhelming; my own pursuits were great but they were time-consuming. I think this was the year when I learned to check in with myself, listen to how I feel, and react to this - accepting that, as an introvert, I would need to get my energy from other places.

The sales job gave way to an editorial job. I gave up my company car and got a bicycle. I learned that cycling in London is not deadly - and that I was, after all these years, still absolutely in love with the bike. Holiday, that year, was Madeira - where I learned that when it comes to beds and mattresses, size does matter.

Whoa, boy. Politically, I learned quite a lot of frustrating things about the Brits and the U.S. people. But good things happened as well: I went on a solo bikepacking trip around the Hebrides and learned that I absolutely belong there (on the bike + on the islands + in Scotland), I stood by my wife as she heroically tackled a Year of Doing Awesome Things and learned how best to support her and what a great team we can become.

I learned about triathlon. I started swimming and running in addition to the bike, and found out how this made me feel (hint: EPIC). I entered my first two races, and got serious about training. This taught me something about discipline, and about deciding where my energy goes throughout the day. We also started getting through all the hurdles on our way to getting British citizenship - learning lots about the helpful (and the not-so-helpful) people who run the councils and offices around Britain.

New job! New flat! New passport! And all this in the first month of the year! This was the first year in London which we spent without living with housemates - so I re-learned about spaces, rhythms, and routines. A summer Commissioning and List Management course taught me lots - about what I'm doing (and what I should be doing) in publishing. In the summer, a glorious return to Scotland - for a bike race around the Isle of Arran and some more bikepacking shenanigans - during which I learned that, definitely, there is power and joy in being alone every now and then.

This has been my first 100% vegetarian year - which, I've learned, is a fun, tasty, and healthy way to live your life. This has also been a year in which I kicked the triathlon training up a gear - racing an Olympic distance in the summer, and committing to the IM 70.3 next year. All of this taught me even more about work, rest, and energy levels. I re-discovered Magic: The Gathering and learned to embrace my nerdy, competitive side. And, in more recent news, changing jobs showed me with even more clarity what apparently needed to be re-learned about my strong points and about working with what I had.

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