I don't do a year in review annually but this past 12 months has been so full on and amazing in many ways, that I wanted to try and summarise, if only for future me.
I remember Christmas last year and I was really at a low point. More and more my autistic struggles had been augmented by both the pandemic and the hormonal effects of perimenopause. I was convinced I was autistic but wasn't heard or listened to and I was beginning to feel so isolated and out of sync with the world. Deciding to pursue a diagnosis, and having my autism confirmed, was definitely one of the highlights of my year, but I will speak further on that in a little while.
I was in the second year of my Master's and thesis was looming but I enjoyed every part of my MSc in Climate Change, Policy, Media and Society in DCU. And I discovered that I loved studying - it's not that I don't feel the pressure like everyone else, but my super focus and becoming more attuned to how my brain works made it such a pleasure for me. My undergrad was a bit chaotic, and I didn't know then that I had adhd or that I was autistic, so I struggled a lot. Having the opportunity to do a Master's was a dream come true and when I got 68% in my thesis, I was thrilled. I was totally unsure of what I was doing with the thesis, and many times I doubted my subject choice (which was the role of the Public Participation Network in furthering climate action) but I became so engrossed in the research that it all came together in the end. My final MSc result was a 2.1 and I did feel proud - although I have to admit that my self-critical tendancy made me a little disappointed that I didn't manage to get those extra marks to get to a first. But overall it was a pretty great achievement and I had gotten a first in 2 of my modules - those connected to media and journalism, which is an area I love, so that was amazing!
Connected to the thesis - and to other parts of my life, I explored more around the whole idea of citizens having a voice, and how that connects to equality in general, and to action on climate. This really is my huge passion and I spent a lot of the year involved in this idea, and advocating for more civic participation. I am a member of the Public Participation Network National Secretariat, and via that I became a member of the National Advisory Group, and also got to speak to an Oireachtas Committee, which honestly was something I never imagined I would be doing. Connecting to like minded people, who care about society, and who want more inclusion and equality, has been another highlight of my year. Another aspect of the citizen engagement was my acceptance onto the Open Government Round Table, which is part of the Irish implementation of the Open Government Partnership.
In tandem with all of the above, this year I was both a Climate Ambassador with An Taisce, and a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate with Saolta/Development Perspectives. These two programs were amazing, and again connected me with wonderful passionate people, as well as a opportunity to learn and take action. At the end of year awards with the Climate Ambassador Program, I won an outstanding achievement award. This genuinely was one of the things I was proudest of this year. I was in awe of all the work fellow Climate Ambassadors were doing and getting an award was so amazing.