I went to a workshop today on being an effective researcher. I think I found it useful, though we will see how much I can implement and how it helps over the coming months.

I was running late to the workshop and nearly an hour of it had passed when I arrived. Fortunately it was a five hour session so I knew it was still worth going. I always feel I should give a reason for being late (though more like an excuse), which I have been known to make up – mostly because the usual reason is to do with my sleep and I always feel it’s not a good enough reason.

I’ve come to realise that nobody seems to mind or say anything when someone comes in late and apologises. I’m trying to take that approach, though it requires conscious effort and mental self-persuasion. When I just apologise, I don’t worry about what other people think as much, and it allows me to accept I’ve been late. If I’m late, at least I’m there. If I’m not there you can bet it’s because I have only got to sleep an hour before my alarm went off, or I feel horrible, but in such a way that it’s not socially acceptable to ring in sick for.

Today I apologised to the workshop convenor as soon as I had occasion, and her response made me feel immediately at ease. She just said, warmly, ‘is everything ok?’ To which I replied ‘yes’, but I must have hesitated or had a wry expression, as she said, ‘that means not really, doesn’t it?’ I half-laughed, agreeing ‘yes but never mind’ and I found myself feeling like I was as welcome as anyone else at the workshop, which I often don’t feel – especially if I haven’t arrived before the start. Consequently, I felt (and was) more engaged with the workshop. Tears pricked behind my eyelids as I poured myself a coffee, but as is often the case, because someone has shown warmth when they could have been neutral or annoyed. With a deep breath, I returned to the group I was with and participated fully with the rest of the afternoon.