Like many I started 2009 worried that the difficulties of the previous year would be magnified and my situation would eventually become serious. In late 2008 my job had been eliminated (after 20+ years with the same company) and along with it the security of health insurance and a clear sense of who I was.
What a difference a year makes. I count myself extremely fortunate, but I also know that a transformative year like this will leave its mark on me forever. Here are the five things I will always remember about 2009:
Change The monumental change in the way people communicate and share called Social Media is so big that many have yet to grasp its significance. Like a tsunami, this wave of communication platforms is getting bigger and bigger. Many will not see this change for what it is until it is too late. I count myself fortunate to have begun engaging four years ago and really stepping up my involvement in 2009. And like a tsunami it’s never too late to try seek higher ground or a way to ride the wave. Here’s hoping most will “get it” in 2010.
Friendship – It used to fit a fairly narrow description in my life: the people I had known for a long time and wanted to spend time with. Through Social Media and groups such as the Social Media Club of Rochester I have learned that a shared interest in any manner of things can lead to abiding friendships with people I once would not have had the opportunity to meet. I’ve also learned that by giving help where I can and whenever I can, I ultimately feel rewarded many times over.
Learning – This has been a continual process in my life, but it wasn’t until I took the visiting professor job at RIT that I realized how interwoven learning and teaching are. I went in thinking I would be teaching, but it turns out I’m doing as much learning – about life, about people and about the way people learn. For this I’m grateful to my students and my fellow faculty. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get valuable insights.
Courage – This is not something I had ever consciously thought about, but it is something I’ve started to detect (either in its abundance or a lack thereof) in those faced by uncertainty or the unknown. While uncertainty faced many during the year some dealt with it by striking out in new directions; others by retrenching, waiting and hoping. When a client pointed out that they admired my courage for doing the former it was a great moment of self-realization. If that is courage (as opposed to, say, naive stupidity) then I’m glad I had it at this time in my life.
Optimism – I’ve always known that my positive take on most people and most situations was at odds with some of those around me. But this year when others started thanking me for seeing a difficult situation in a positive light - I realized that just being me was helping others to see things more positively. I thought about my maternal grandmother Hilmary Catton a lot this year … it was her attitude that came through in me during the year. My favorite saying of hers (and I am paraphrasing here): “Life – it sure beats the alternative!”
So, no matter what 2010 holds in store, for me 2009 will always the year of Social Media and self-realization.