Recognising Milestones Of All Shapes And Sizes – Rebecca Broad
The last time I wrote about milestones in this magazine was in September of 2018. I had, at last, completed my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences. It had taken me 5 years, a medical interruption, being assessed as a disabled student and many more unforeseen bumps in the road. It should have felt like a huge occasion.
Of course, I had a lovely time when I finally graduated last December with a 2:1, College Commendation, and an award for Best Communication. My family were there – a huge privilege, having had both parents diagnosed with cancer while I’d been away studying. My friends were there – also a big honour, as some had travelled a long way. Afterwards, at The Forum Reception, I ate as many free cupcakes as I physically could; partly because I’d worked part-time as a catering assistant so had spent a fair few hours serving them up to previous graduates; and partly because I’d forked out a LOT of dosh just to wear a fancy cape and hat for a couple of hours.
So… yeh. A lovely time. But no great sense of pride or achievement. This started a slow realisation of what milestones can be – or at least, what they don’t have to be.
A milestone doesn’t have to look like an achievement on the outside. For example: paying tax. I’ve never earned enough to pay tax… until this year. Most people seem to try to avoid paying more tax than necessary; I’m amazed at the level of success this points to.
A milestone doesn’t have to be entirely about you. Lucy de Burgh, the hugely talented Illustrator and Graphic Designer who created the image above, helped me learn this. Lucy’s eldest child started school in September – an event in any family. However, for Lucy, this holds a particular significance: he was given just a 50% survival rate when born. As she describes:
“It’s kind of a milestone by proxy. He is now thriving and I’m so incredibly proud of him”.
A milestone doesn’t have to feel obvious. It can sneak up on you, like the fact that I’ve been freelancing for 4 years – I sent my first invoice for writing in November 2015. (Fun story: I only realised this recently, when a prospective client tried to beat me down on price by playing the “you’re only 24!” card which, needless to say, was a very poor move.)
A milestone doesn’t have to look glossy or feel good. Synonym search milestone and you get turning point. In March I found myself in an ambulance on the way to A&E. Processing the fact that I had nearly placed my final milestone has left me with a different perspective on life – and if that isn’t a turning point, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps your milestone is a professional achievement; perhaps it’s something entirely different. As 2019 draws to a close and a new decade dawns, I hope you can give yourself permission to reflect on whatever has been important to you.
Has this provoked any thoughts about milestones? Feel free to tweet me at @RebeccaComms or email rebecca.broad@outlook – hearing from readers always makes my day!
Written by Rebecca Broad
Illustrations by Lucy de Burgh