Acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with social gathering or enjoyable activity.


Take a moment to think about the things you have celebrated, or have yet to celebrate, this year…


Hopefully you had many joyous occasions come to the forefront of your mind. But what actually makes a moment worthy of celebration? Things that came to mind for you might have included: your birthday, doing really well in an assignment, relationship goals, like getting engaged, or receiving an award.


When I look back at my year, and the moments of celebration, the following easily manifest:

After completing my degree in 2020, Covid held off the official celebrations for an extended period; but in February of this year, I finally got to celebrate this achievement.


Also in February, I passed my PhD Confirmation. This was the culmination of 3+ months of work, which resulted in the submission of a 68-page document, a 20-minute oral presentation, and a panel discussion.


I became an Associate Lecturer in the Joint Medical Program, and as a student with a psychology background this is an incredible opportunity. I have also been offered a position to coordinate a course in Semester 1, 2023.


I was awarded a PhD scholarship and got to celebrate at Local Connections with fellow award recipients and academics.


I became a co-author on my first published, peer-reviewed article.


I won the School of Psychological Sciences Poster competition at the first ever HDR festival.


We tend to dwell on these extravagant milestones and achievements and, honestly, it makes a lot of sense considering the definition of ‘celebrate’. However, sometimes it can feel quite disappointing to not feel like you have a lot to celebrate. You may have noticed that my big reasons to celebrate often centre around academic or career success, and this too has been a barrier for me in my idea of ‘celebration’. This has been a common occurrence in my PhD studies thus far. With no strict deadlines, no ‘assignments’ to work towards and no grades, the typical achievements I used to celebrate were no longer.


This was something I was struggling with quite a lot mentally. It was from this I came to realise that I can make my own rules around what I felt was something worthy of celebration. Thus, I started writing in a little notebook every day, reflecting on at least one thing that I felt was worthy of celebration – even if it was just getting through six hours of meetings. 


Some of the small things I found to celebrate were:


  • Seeing my first (second, third, and fourth) musical.
  • Marking my first OSCEs.
  • Going to numerous flashy events: HDR Scholarship celebrations, Winter Ball, Alumni excellence awards, Masquerade party, and the upcoming UNSA Ball.
  • Starting writing two of my PhD papers (even though my progress is not as extensive as I had hoped…).
  • Making time for friends and family.
  • Becoming a qualified Mental Health First Aider and Lifeline text volunteer.
  • Paying off my car.
  • Travelling for the first time.


To be worthy of celebration, things need not be big; they most certainly can be small. So, take a close look back on your year and all the things you have to celebrate – big and small – and you might come to realise you have achieved much more than you anticipated.


Tegan Stettaford

Tegan Stettaford

Hello! My name is Tegan and I joined the Opus team in 2021 as an outlet to escape my PhD writing. I am yet to find my niche category, but you can probably expect pieces about postgraduate life, creativity, psychology, literature and all things cute and fuzzy. Outside of Opus and my PhD, I am also a peer mentor, team leader, tutor, and sessional academic (so you might just see me in class sometime!).