It's 1:48pm, late December, 2015; the perfect time to sit down, play some Belle & Sebastian, and have a look back at the last twelve months and work out where I was, where I am and where I'm going now.
2015 started early for me - thirteen months ago, I was beginning my term as an Ordinary Guild Councillor of the 102nd Guild Council at the UWA Student Guild. It was an exciting time, suddenly being thrust into the world of student politics (aptly-named stupol, for good reason) and as one of the only students from the isolated campus of Nedlands in the 20+ years of UWA occupation of the site to break through and be placed in main campus representation; to this day, I still don't know how I managed to swindle myself a spot on Guild Council.
The Crawley campus scene remains a mystery to one who is not directly immersed into a culture bursting at the seams with aspiring young politicians and scrupulous characters with broad horizons and undetermined futures, in contrast to the clear cut Nedlands campus, where 90% of students are all there for one very specific reason: do your five years sentence and become an architect. To experience the whole new world of stupol and all the wonders and marvels that comes along with it is a sight to behold, but one that is unrelenting and exhausting to those who remain unaware of how much it threatens to take out of your physical and mental wellbeing.
I don't regret a single moment of my year as a Councillor. I have met a number of incredible individuals who have inspired me in nearly all caveats of my life. The cost, however, was unbearable. The breakdown of many relationships, the stagnation of my education and the numerous days of lost reprieve forced my hand; I was not ready for this. However, I have the utmost respect for those who step outside of their comfort zone and take up office as a student representative - because the turmoil that is thrown at you is enough to make the most steadfast character crumble to pieces. It is easy to hold resentment for the role for taking so much away from someone, but the resentment makes way for appreciation for the amicable people who took up arms alongside you and who made those twelve short months just a bit more pleasurable.
Closer to home, this year was my second year as Society President for The Architecture, Landscape & Visual Arts Student Society of UWA. It has been a troublesome year, with a smaller committee and my time being occupied in other roles leading to ineffectual leadership at a time when it was most required. Despite our lack of human resources, we managed to maintain the status quo and achieve educational outcomes through advocacy, determination and professionalism to the best of our abilities.
It has been made abundantly clear that a strong team with conviction towards action is an absolute necessity for any organisation to survive. Patrick Bendall, Jaime Mayger and I have given it our all, but three people is just not enough for 1,200 students. The responsibility bears upon me. Where vacancies existed, there were no students who were enthusiastic enough nor ready enough to fill them. Where voices were crying out for support, we had no ears to hear them and no feet on the ground to move to assist them. We missed a lot of marks this year. I should have been on campus more to drum up support for the Society, to bring more enthusiasm in being a part of the Society, and to be more effective for the student populace. Patrick and Jaime were incredible in their roles, but were victim to my failed leadership. While I have reluctantly taken up a third term of office for 2016, this coming year will be different. I'm home. I will be there for you.
Not everything about this year has been a bit of a negative experience. The Student Organised Network for Architecture - notwithstanding a year of trials and tribulations - has been quite a successful one. As the National Vice-President of Membership Engagement & Advocacy, and responsible for bringing in new members, retaining existing members and advocating to national bodies, I've witnessed a group of representatives from the 19 schools of architecture in Australia succeeding in their endeavours. Even though I've been very much aware of the personal challenges that most representatives have faced this year, membership rates and participation has increased from 2014, along with the successful implementation of new events and initiatives that representatives and other members of the National Executive have been working on throughout 2015.
In July, I was honoured to be elected to National Presidency for SONA in 2016, a role that begins on the first day of the new year. Tomorrow. We've done some great work over the last two years since I got involved, and it's important to continue that work while implementing new policies that will strengthen and unite SONA for the future of architectural education. I'm incredibly excited for what I have in store in 2016 and I hope that - if you're an architecture student in Australia reading this - you'll be on board too.
I left David Weir Architects two weeks ago to pursue new opportunities, in case you haven't read the last entry in THE INTERN Writing Series. While I won't comment on particulars of the operations, it has been a wonderful year for David and there's more in store for 2016 and beyond. Keep a close eye on him, because DW and his team are going to be shooting onwards and upwards; hell, I'm keeping two close eyes on them.
There have also been huge developments outside of the realms of university and architecture. I moved out and started to live independently, which has been a scary endeavour and warranting the claim that 'I'm an adult now' as I eat that piece of buttered toast for dinner. I'm only five units away from that dreaded Bachelor degree with hopes of making it into the Master program in 2017, so you'll actually see me wear a graduation garb for legitimate purposes at some point in the near future. I own a typewriter, restored it to working order and have attempted to keep to regular writing sessions. My housemate has lent me his Pentax MV 35mm film SLR to tinker with and to eventually work out exactly why it's not working. I've started going to the gym again. I can now see the floor of my car after an extended period of using the back seat as an office. Somehow, the pieces are settling into place.
2015. It was demanding. It was exhausting. It was challenging. It was in retrospect - after reading everything I've written - seemingly not a pleasure at some moments. I maintain that 2015 and I were in a love-hate relationship; but how do you think I survived the other twenty-one before?
2016. You don't really fit well with this Frankie Valli theme, but let's be friends.