2020: The year of the right questions and the BIG ‘break’

Show me one person that did not change their initial plans in 2020… That was definitely not me – neither in my professional or personal life.

The year started promising myself I will ask the right questions, and not necessarily stress to find the answers to everything. Lockdown and covid19 changed my everyday life, changed my plans but in essence, looking under the surface, I kept asking questions during the year.

And although mostly we all asked “why this?” “why now?” “what are we doing now?” “when are we going back?”, I forced myself to take advantage of the big “break” and ask among others:

  • “How might we change everything now that we can?”
  • “How might the work environment change in the future? And how might we ensure that we do not go back to wrong practices?”
  • “How do we empower the young generation to be an improved version of themselves?”
  • “What is my life and work purpose?”
  • “How do I protect my mental health and teach my students and mentees to prioritize their mental health too?”

In that journey of questions, I had interesting co-passengers: the SAYAS blogging team of 2020. The bloggers started the year unknowingly pointing on issues that kept us engaged during 2020. Pagiel almost looked into the future and discussed the two tales of the South African education system, and Richard introduced us to the role of social media for impactful science that reaches the society. Michelle started the year trying to identify her purpose and fulfilment for the year, while Sinenhlanhla encouraged all of us to find what fuels our passion – and reach for the stars.

The rest of the year, we were all fortunate to read blogs from a wide variety of topics that ranged from the interesting story of the spekboom trees and tree blindness, science communication topics, fake news and the right to be wrong, women in science and role models, tributes to icons, the education sector and its evolution, as well as topics of interest for students (from students) such as preparation for conferences, supervisors and mentorship during a pandemic, financial challenges, the toxic culture in tertiary institutions etc.

Closing the year as an editor of the SAYAS blog, I learned so much from working with this team, not only content wise but from their work ethics and creativity. At this point, I would like to also thank all the contributors of blogs that shared their thoughts and ideas.

The “big break” was the right time for slow thinking and reassessing what is important in our lives, what we will keep and what we will let go. It might not have happened naturally to all of us, but my suggestion is to pause for a bit in December, look back in the year and take a moment to realise how much we have all grown and matured during this year consciously and unconsciously.

See you all next year with more blogs and other exciting ideas.