2016 was rough.
It was a definite test emotionally, physically and mentally. December wrapped up with a shriveled bow – torn and ragged from the struggles, heartbreak and disbelief. Never have I felt sorrow so deeply. It hurts. A constant ache in the chest. Never have I dealt with loss, the numbness of shock, the cold gripless hand of death. Never have I looked into the eyes of a loved one, and agony reflecting back from their silent tears.
Numbing, they call it. Loss and without a plan. Time and time again. I feel like I’ve fallen, but the beating countinues. Each strike is received by just a little less strength to get back up. i craved the final blow, face down, deeper and deeper my face furrows into Earth’s dirt
Throughout the year, I was reminded of my (ironically) favourite poem time and time again – The Second Coming by William Yeats:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It must have been something in the stars. But hey, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? This year has grown me in ways I cannot even fathom. In summary, a few things –
One/ big problems are easy to stick a bandage over, but hard to solve.
This one somewhat governed 2016 – from professional aspects like work projects, to more intimate areas like relationships with my family, to something I have limited control over like US politics. I learned this year that finding a resolution does not equate to solving a problem. The latter takes time and more importantly, understanding. This year, I’ve learned building that emotional connection and showing empathy (regardless of the method) is a lot more powerful than what I always through to be true – cold, harsh logic.
Two/ things hurt when they matter.
I’m a planner – I know it, my community knows it. I love evaluating my options ahead of time so I’m ready to face whatever when it hits me head-on. I’m rewarded for this skill both professionally and emotionally – at work, I’m respected for my ability to balance short and long term to develop a strong strategy; at home, I am sought after for advice and consultation. But one thing I’ve learned this year is that no matter how much you plan, you will never be able to fathom how much something will hurt when it happens and if it matters. Sure, your run the projected scene over and over in your head. But when it happens, and all your senses are actively taking everything it, you’re hurled a wall of bricks and there’s no way you can dodge.
Three/ you are not open-minded if you cannot see the other side.
Living in liberal Seattle is a blessing. I’ve learned to respect and care more about my community. I’ve developed the confidence to go above and beyond in following my heart and vocalizing my opinions on social (in)justice. Being in this city of blue has allowed me to really solidify my beliefs and most importantly, the reason for these beliefs whether it’s equal rights/anti-discrimination, poverty alleviation, universal healthcare and pro-education. Though the average belief in this city is quite parallel to my personal opinion on these issues, I have learned that social liberalism does not equate to open-mindedness. In fact, if we are to dismiss the other side, and not take time to listen, we are worse than all the bad in all political ideologies combined. Compromise and collaboration comes from a mutual understanding and respect.
Four/ trust what you believe in.
Another thing 2016 taught me is that belief without trust is as worthless as non-belief.
- Belief: trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
- Trust: belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
We turn towards our beliefs to keep going, to move on. Belief is a hope in something. A hope for a better forthcoming. Meanwhile, trust is an investment towards actualization. We trust things will happen, actions will be taken. We trust someone will not give up; we trust things do not fail. There is comfort in trust. This is an important lesson I’ve learned in 2016 – the beginning is to believe, the rest is to trust. And trust is something we can influence through our actions, which results in reality.
Five/ what’s meant to be will happen in due course. Things come back.
I’ve spend a lot of time in 2016 reviewing my relationships. It hit me in November that I am very far away from the people I love the most. This has quickly transcribed into an analysis of time vs the love I give vs the love get in return. There are a few types of relationship we all have in this world, which, could be illustrated via a matrix. Sure, this sounds a little rude/disrespectful/insane, but think about it –
- Best friends: high return, high investment. We dream of finding these people. Those who love you for yourself, in and out. These are the people who are worth investing time, energy and love into. These people are forever.
- Soul mates: high return, low investment. These are those people you meet on your travels and instantly fall in love with. They’re “your people”. They meet every need and expectation you have that very given moment in time. These people are also temporary. So enjoy them while they last.
- Friends: low return, low investment. 80% of friendships fall in this category. These are your get together friends. They’re fun, they’re chill. You see each other when you have time, you see each other when you happen to bump into each other. There’s potential to turn into high return – so enjoy them. Why not.
- Unhealthy: low return, high investment. This is the only unhealthy group of the matrix. You put in a lot of your time but you get little in return. You find yourself questioning why you keep hanging out with this group as you have little in common. These could be old friends that have changed, or just people you admire irrationally who do not respond the same way. Remove these from your circle.
Friends come and go but the ones you should keep will always stay or come back. They are ones who bring you temporary or permanently joy. So thank you 2016, I’ve learned to think about my relationships more critically and prioritize accordingly.
Disclaimer: my definition of soul mates may be different from your interpretation of the word.
Six/ being selfless is one of the hardest things to do
This one is a lesson from my grandma, who I will write more about in a separate post. Through her, I’m able to understand the power and effect of selflessness. I’m also able to see how difficult it is to constantly make the decision that represents the greater good, which is often, at the expense of your own happiness or well-being. I think we take this for granted too often. Not only do we focus too much on an individual’s brief moment of weakness versus the grandeur of their selfless acts, we also don’t practice enough selflessness and thinking/acting to represent the greater good .Our society is so focused on the “I” when we really should start thinking about the “they” and “we”.
Seven/ you may be limited by Destiny; but you always have a Choice
Last big lesson from 2016. Destiny is a beautiful yet terrifying thing. On one hand, we find comfort knowing that our lives are set and that whatever happen will happen. On the other hand, we find discomfort knowing that our actions are all superfluous and that the outcome cannot be influenced. A very difficult December led me to look inward to do some very deep self-reflection.
I have decided that though Destiny could very well govern the final outcome, but we always have a Choice at each crossroad. I believe the choice is greater than Yes or No, Right or Wrong, Left or Right, it’s a choice between the many different things we care about. Happiness. Comfort. Family. Love. Destiny has created many options for you and it’s your Choice that dictates your happiness / which areas you feel most fulfilled in. We always pick what’s most important to us – what makes us happiest – at every crossroad we reach. Our actions combined will result in the Destiny that is one of the many paths destined for us.
And now, we welcome 2017.
Some resolutions based on the above –
Think: Rationally; Talk: Empathetically
Success is a marriage of logic and emotions. I goal myself this year to put thought into my expression. To articulate my thoughts, beliefs and disagreements carefully. I challenge myself to take a step back and decide how to communicate effectively to achieve the outcome. I challenge myself to pick the right mode of communication and to use it.
Show: Care; Not: Indifference
The opposite of love is indifference. Indifference is ineffective and the worst response to receive. This year, I challenge myself to focus on how I want my responses interpreted. I challenge myself to focus on creating meaningful dialog and to simply not have interactions that would generate unnecessary conflict or make the recevier feel negativity. And in dire contrast, I challenge myself to go above and beyond in expressing love and care for those I do feel these emotions towards.
Remember: Where You Came From
It has been 7 years since I have lived at home. 7 years of independence, 7 years of introspectiveness, 7 years of self-development and fighting for my own best interest. Everything I do is focused on accelerating – my personal and career growth, understanding of the world, of what’s right and wrong. But for 2017, I challenge myself to take a step back. Remember where I came from, and remember what truly matters. I might have learned a lot along the way, but need to remind myself of my upbringing, what’s truly important to me and those closest to me. I challenge myself to keep growing the way I want to, but do so mindfully.
Stay: Young and Curious in Discovery; Be: Old and Wise in Review
I avoid conflict too much for me to say ‘no’ as much as I like. I enjoy pleasing and easily feel guilty when I refuse to partake in an activity I’ve been invited to. This year, I will put myself first and say ‘no’ more often to things I do not want to participate in. That being said, I challenge myself to think critically about why I’m saying ‘no’ to understand why and if it’s a deeper issue. Simultaneously, I goal myself to try more new things and rediscover my self of awe and curiosity at all things around me.
With these new goals, I hope to 1) improve my interaction with others, 2) grow in a way I’m comfortable with, 3) gather a deeper understanding of all the things and all the people around me.
And… that’s a wrap! Cheers, 2017. I’m excited for you.