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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fiftieth Post! 10 things I've learnt over that time

This is my fiftieth blog post! What?! It's gone so fast! It's also pretty dead-on six months (give or take a day or three) since I started. It's flown by! I thought I'd mark it by doing a post of ten things I've learnt over the last fifty posts/six months. (I've only actually thought of nine right now but I'm hoping one will come to me as I write the rest!)
So here we go:
1. It's Fun!
This blog thing started out as a way to practice writing in a non-stressful environment, as well as an extra incentive to keep my fingers on the pulse with regards to what's going on in the world of microbiology and science in general. But writing random science ramblings is way more fun than I expected, I love it! I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep it up, but I've thrown myself into it, not just on the blog but on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube too! It's really, really fun.

2. It Opens Doors to New Things
After dabbling briefly in posting about Mental Health for Mental Health Awareness Week, Student Minds (A UK Mental Health Charity) asked me to write a post for their blog, then asked me to sign up to their blogging team! I am really keen to do as much as I can to promote MH awareness and to help others going through similarly rough times as I did, but I wouldn't have had the opportunity to start actually doing that if I hadn't started Friendly Bacteria.

3. There Are Open Doors Already, and I Can Go Through Them
My confidence is horrific. Really, really low. But this blog, and the little videos and things, are all giving me more and more; six months ago I wouldn't have been able to do so many things that today I don't think twice about. Even small things like having the ice machine break, and just going on a quest to find one in the next building rather than panicking and running to the lab manager straight away. I've been trying to sign myself up for talks and things, and to do demonstrating when all the little freshers arrive, which I would never have had the self confidence to even contemplate doing before. Already I'm gaining a lot from this thing, which hopefully will continue!

4. People are Interested in My Ramblings
Linked to the confidence thing, the biggest surprise for me has been that people actually seem interested in this blog. I never expected anyone to like it at all, but as of right now it's been read (or at least clicked on) 1849 times! That's nearly forty reads on every post, which is weird. It's going up too! I don't really understand it but I'm not complaining! That's part of the confidence boost too, that I do actually have some value.

5. How Little I Know
I love learning things, it's the greatest feeling! So when I say 'how little I know' I don't mean it in a bad way. There is so much knowledge out there, stored in articles, databases and in interesting knowledgeable people's brains, which is absolutely wonderful! Also on a practical level it means I might never run out of things to talk about on here, which is pretty sweet.

6. How Much I know
Blowing my own trumpet a little there, but writing down facts twice a week has highlighted to me just how many of them are hidden away in my brain, which is another confidence boosting thing. I do do research for these posts, but quite a lot of the time it's just fact checking rather than finding out new stuff; I'm glad my weird powers of sponging up biology facts are coming in handy! Shame I'm still pretty useless in the real world, but oh well.

7. Everyone is Lovely!
I've interacted with many, many people through Friendly Bacteria. Mostly through Twitter, where everyone is ridiculously friendly and helpful, but also through Instagram now, where everyone is also friendly and helpful, or really wants to get me thousands of free followers which is nice of them. The fact that lots of Twitter folk I interact with are either PhDs, Researchers or High up academics also helps because I'm a little scared of them in real life so it's good to remind myself that they're lovely people too!

8. I Love my Research/Field
I mean, I already knew this, but it's brought back and reaffirmed so much of my love for biology, microbes, friendly bacteria, and science in general. My enthusiasm and motivation have been boosted, and it's reminded me why I ended up doing what I do, why I wanted to do it in the first place (because I played a bit too much Resident Evil) and why I love being a researcher.

9. I Can Actually Talk About Science
Again, linking back to the confidence thing, I am really bad at speaking. One to one, as a presentation or in a big group discussion, I mumble and lose my thread and have no confidence to present what I want to say. However, I'm really enjoying doing the little one minute microbiology videos each week, and one huge thing for me about that is that when recording it I'm getting reasonably good at not saying 'ummm' every other word, or having big awkward pauses. I know that's just basic speaking skills, but I'm proud of how I'm improving!

10. I'm Not Alone!
Especially with regards to other PhD people, this is a really important thing for me! In the ups and downs, in finding my way in the blogging world, (the blog-ome?) and generally being a PhD person, there are loads of people out there who I interact with or read their blogs or whatever, and it's such a comfort to know that I'm in good company! And as I mentioned in point 7, everyone is lovely too!

I'm really, really enjoying this blog and other associated things! These last six months have been a blast, and I'm looking forward to carrying it on for many more months to come!

Some stats
More for my later reference than anything, but you might find it interesting;

This blog has had 1849 views, with 3 followers. Click the things at the side to join them! --->
On Twitter, I have 233 followers now!
On YouTube I have 1 lonely subscriber (thanks, Ciara!). She's lonely, why not join her?
On Instagram I have 34 followers (although I only started it like a week or so ago). @Friendly_Bacteria is the name on there if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Not bad for six months' work!

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