Sixteen

So that’s it, 2016 finished, confined to the record books and throwback Thursdays. It’s been overall quite a wild ride, with a great number of ups, and even greater number of downs.

Two of the single greatest impacting occurrences of my life so far happened this year:

  1. Brexit.
  2. Rio 2016.

I lack the energy to delve into Brexit massively, into how much of a shambles the entire referendum was, or how the result leaves me massively uncertain and disheartened. I remain a huge admirer of the European Union, with its flaws, but ultimately representative of something brilliant, a broader unity across nations and cultures. The tail end of this year has seen me beginning the process of leaving the EU finding employment for when I graduate in July. I had been and continue to look at various roles and employers on mainland Europe, only now I find myself concerned as to how valid my declaration that I’m “able to work in the EU” remains.

President-Elect Trump too has eviscerated any interest in pursuing opportunities stateside, but that whole business is too despairing to touch on in any further detail.

Before I get to the bizarre dream that was Rio, there was some more isolated negative parts of 2016 too. I crashed through the most taxing period of academic examination of my life, where I had a pretty severe open assessment followed ten days later by six examinations within ten days, including a 48-hour spectacular in which I had three examinations. I think it would be inaccurate to say that it was the singularly most stressful experience I’ve had so far, but it was definitely the most extended period of sustained stress I’ve experienced. Ultimately, things worked out and I’m left with an experience that I can draw on in the future, with lessons learnt and perspective gained. I’m pleased to report I only have two (academic, at least) exams in the entirety of 2017, which is a relief.

The final noteworthy bit of negativity is my intermittent fitness. Having injured myself in Whistler I was unable to row for the final term of my 4th year, which was a real shame and hit to my athleticism. I then found myself at a pretty reasonable level of fitness at the beginning of the Summer break, before returning from Brazil more motivated than ever before, but just as broken as after Easter, and unable to row again, to my utter dismay. Physio visits have had slight improvements, but problems linger. I’m sure I’ll return to the Ouse at some point in 2017, I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

So that’s the bad out of the way. 2016 wasn’t all bad however, no matter how much the news stories of the year and eventual entries in the history book may suggest. On the smallest, most personal scale, having returned to study in October of 2015, with most people I knew from York having graduated, 2016 saw some really meaningful new friendships develop further. Up until the point of perpetual injury I was fitter and healthier than probably ever before in life, something I’ll be working to restore in 2017. I got through another year of university too, and applied to a fair few jobs, with most applications not being completely hopeless, particularly for the jobs I most wanted.

Most substantially, however, was my good fortune to spend 7 weeks in the opposite hemisphere, experiencing the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in all their vivid wonder.

Rio 2016 was a fairly unique privilege to have experienced. I had friends go to London 2012 and every single one came away with a brilliant and memorable experience. The home Games was a fairly momentous occasion, but similarly this South American Games was a joy, albeit in Portuguese and in a slightly warmer climate. Brazil and its people were phenomenal first of all. The Games themselves were extraordinary (even if I only caught passing glimpses of actual sport, the atmosphere was enough of a pleasure). Working for the BBC was a truly brilliant experience, and the Corporation will be the benchmark by which any employer I consider working for are gauged against. I even got to meet a wonderful assortment of extraordinary athletes (none of whom I can speak even the slightest ill of). It was an experience I’ll treasure for a long time, and that I’m still quite bewildered actually happened.

The British Broadcasting Corporation will be the benchmark by which any employer I consider working for are gauged against…

I should really try and note down more of my thoughts as soon as I can, while they’re still somewhat prominent in my mind (even several months on). But one thing I will add one last thought on is my experience working for the BBC. The Beeb gets a bad rep and undeniably has flaws that could be improved, however the single most impressive thing I found while working in Rio was how much pride and commitment every one of its employees put into the Rio operation, and how valued each and every individual truly seemed to be. It was clear while in Rio that wherever I may end up after graduation, that collective feel of doing something worthwhile and achieving it as a team was one that would be essential for me to feel satisfied in my employment, beyond how well I’m paid, what it is I’m working on, where it is I’m working, or any other metric.

So let’s wait and see what’s in store for 2017.