What's Good 2018
2017 has been one of those years where it feels like nothing much has happened, but upon closer introspection, it’s hard to deny the passage of time and its effects on personal development.
Looking back, it's been a big year in terms of understanding my own motivations and capacity for change, which - in a way - was a threshold of sorts as I step into what hopefully will be a new stage in my life. I'll be sharing some of these thoughts and lessons learned below, with highs and lows from this past year, alongside some self-centred reflections.
As always, thank you for reading and wishing you a whimsical end of the year. Of course, I'd love to hear some of your highs and lows if you're so inclined.
# 1 - Record-keeping
I started journalling mid-last year, keeping track of my goals, managed my schedule by hand, and wrote weekly reflections - all in attempt to be more mindful of the changes I wanted to make in my life. Needless to say, a year of dedication has reaped countless rewards - from being able to accomplish more of what I set out to do to shedding light on who I am as a person in ways I wasn't aware of before.
I've also been scrapbooking consistently throughout the year, and have found myself constantly looking for ticket stubs, postcards, or other memorabilia I can include. Not sure if most of you could agree, but it's incredibly fun and fulfilling to look back on. For me, it's been another way to channel and express gratitude - an exercise I've found to be very powerful. I hope to write a blogpost about this topic sometime in January - in time for New Year Resolutions!
# 2 - Travelling with Family
One of my goals for 2017 was to travel to at least one new place - something I was able to check off the list in July. What stood out about my trip to Okinawa was the fact it was our first family trip in years. While spending an entire week, 24/7 with your family can be a bit much at times, I was immensely grateful for the time we were able to spend together.
Being in my late-20s, I'm able to appreciate these opportunities in ways I couldn't when moments didn't feel so fleeting. It's something I treasure and hope to make a tradition in the years to come. Of course, skiing in Niseko in the early part of the year, and visiting New York City during Thanksgiving were also major highlights. The latter was especially significant, as I got to see a BFF for the first time in almost 2 years. My heart is full.
# 3 - Opening the Mind
Two skills I've gotten better at in 2017: (1) saying yes and (2) letting things go. I opened myself to so many new opportunities just by saying yes, like side projects (pictured), and putting my work out there. Granted, not all of them worked out, as I faced immovable obstacles (also pictured) and was rejected on many, many occasions, but none of those failures felt as such. I was simply happy I tried, which is something I learned about myself.
On the flip-side, I've toned down my confrontational or aggressive tendencies by getting into the habit of telling myself: there's rarely a right or wrong and hurt people hurt people. I used to interpret assertiveness as a way of standing up for myself, but learned the importance of making life easier. For me, applying these statements transforms them from passive knowledge into actionable reminders.
# 1 - The Worst Kind of Fear
I feel as if I've talked about this issue innumerable times on this blog already, so I'll try not to dwell for too long. My Dad was diagnosed with a chronic, life-threatening illness a decade ago. It's been a difficult ten years seeing him wrangle with the physical and psychological devastations of the disease, and how it's changed the dynamics, relationships, and morale within my family. We received bad news this year with regards to his illness, and on top of that, my closest friends have also had to face similar challenges.
While this looms large over my reflection of 2017, the one positive thing I can salvage from all those nights of feeling hopeless is how it's forced me to develop resilience when facing sadness, loss, the unknown. Life doesn't get easier and in learning how to cope, I've also set a stronger foundation for what's ahead. One day at a time.
# 2 - Wasted Time
Like I mentioned earlier, I took part in a number of failed projects this year, from an e-shop with a friend to selling some of my illustrations / prints online to helping my Mom with a jewellery business she wants to start. While it's been disappointing, I'm thankful to have worked on them, and have hope the obstacles standing in the way of their success may be rectified in the future.
The wasted time I'm referring to here is when it's lost for reasons outside my control: the whim of a colleague or manager, office politics. This happens to everyone at every job, but these occurrences stand out for me, as it's in those moments I've felt the most worthless and my work, meaningless. I didn't feel I gained anything from having my work disregarded arbitrarily. I've tried so hard to come to terms with this aspect of work this year, but so far, no luck.
# 3 - Growing Pains
With growth comes growing pains, and in the case of this year, it was having to shed a former self, my younger self. It wasn't so much getting older I struggled with, but changes that lie ahead. With friends getting engaged weekly and going to my first children-filled party, I had moments of serious doubt as to whether I could do the same.
Can I put down brash defiance and unmarred spontaneity for the sake of adulthood? Can I accept the finality of the decisions I'm about to make with my career, marriage, etc.? Can I accept memories for what they are [the past] rather than a place of safety? As Joan Didion said: "'You have your wonderful memories,' people said later, as if memories were solace. Memories are not. Memories are by definition of times past, things gone...Memories are what you no longer want to remember.”