January 16 is my birthday and this year I turned 40. I know, I know it is very difficult for you to imagine that I am 40, right? I look like 25 😀 and no I am not having any emotional reactions to the number 40. I said no!
I remember thinking that people who are 40 are old and it feels like yesterday but obviously it is not. Since my birthday is at the very beginning of the new year. I wanted to write something short (because Idun Aishe) and reflect on the year 2022.
Let me say this in advance, it was a great year! I cannot imagine any other year that will be even better. The year started with sunshine and wonderful weather because we were in California and it will be difficult to replicate that alone here in Sweden. And we were already aware that we were pregnant. So even though we were very scared of any miscarriage or fire or falling from the stairs every time I take them or floods/earthquakes, (you got the idea, I was scared of everything); it was still the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.
I was at Stanford in 2022, another dream that came true. I wouldn’t dare to imagine that one day I will be fortunate enough to do that, let alone be there as Marie Curie Fellow. And surely I enjoyed every moment of it. I will never forget Idun’s kicks in the middle of the classes. I was laughing and probably everyone was thinking I am a bit weird. But Stanford is a great place for the weird.
Then there was another wish that I manage to make a reality. I have been ranked as the first candidate and got an offer from Uppsala University for a tenured assistant professor position. I prepared myself for this and knew that I am a competitive candidate but still it is not an easy task to compete for these positions. They are also rare. So, 2022, I cannot complain!
This one was a secret, now I can share it! My childhood dream!! I applied to become one of the next astronauts of the European Space Agency. I can not tell you how great an experience it was. I did not only pass so many phases and advanced in the selection process that I am still in shock, but I also met incredible people on the way. I had dinners with two of the selected astronauts in training and heard their stories, shared my story with them. Think about it! And I have been interviewed by one of the current astronauts 😀 This is the coolest thing that ever happened to me. He said that he was amazed by my application. Yeah, I was quite close to becoming an astronaut and that journey showed me that perhaps I am not so keen on riding a rocket as much as I think. I was in completely different head space especially when I was 7 months pregnant and waiting for decisions. In the end, I understood that I am not cut to be an astronaut and it is not a bad thing. It’s not easy to know if you can be one or not from the beginning. In this case, they decided that I cannot and I understand it very well. I still cannot say much about the whole process because I signed an extensive NDA but if I told you the things we have been through you wouldn’t believe me 😀 What an experience!
Surely, the most important part of 2022 was, giving birth to Idun Aishe. I might forget everything that happened to me in 2022 even the astronaut selection but not this one. I became a mother. I already wrote about this here. Therefore, I am not going to repeat it.
As much as we loved to be in Palo Alto and enjoyed traveling all around California. We were happy to be back in Sweden. We truly love Stockholm, our family, and our friends here. I cannot forget the feeling of seeing Stockholm from the plane window. I was telling Idun that she is home and tears were coming down my cheeks. So funny to love somewhere this much. I did not born in Stockholm, neither grow up here. But it is the only place that I feel home. I cannot imagine how Johanna was feeling.
And introducing little Aishe to her family in Cyprus was the biggest excitement of the end of the year. She has so many relatives in Cyprus that she still did not meet most of them. They love and adore her, look forward to seeing and teaching her more about Cyprus. One important milestone is already accomplished: she dances to Dillirga/Tillyrkotissa very enthusiastically 😀 I think if she wants, she has the grounds for Cypriot citizenship now.
I am 40 and I have done a lot. Most of my struggles, patience, resilience, and waitings turned into beautiful achievements in 2022. Now, I can say that at 40, I finally fully know what love means, what will means, and what dreaming means. I was fortunate enough to meet people who loved me, cared for me, gave chance to me to be myself, and allowed me to flourish. I couldn’t have done any of it without their support.
Happy birthday to me and well done to you all!