A week after the new year isn’t that late for resolutions, I hope. But first, allow me to look back to the year that was.
January. I started this new blog, and this was what I wrote on my first post:
I’m 29, currently unemployed, single and at the throes of figuring out a career path after an unremarkable PhD. There is no resolution yet in sight, but for some reason I am not petrified. Yes I’m scared, but there’s a difference. This point in my life is yet another beginning of so much possibilities. It’s the end of all possible formal schooling and the start of more selective and conscious learning. I’ve lost many, I’ve kept what matters. But perhaps the weight is an exception, I welcome more loss. And more of what matters. In starting this new blog, I will try to keep to my plan to be brave enough to write about pain, failure, and uncertainty as I feel it. To be unashamed of these lesson-bearers. And in the same way, I will try to stick to my plan to see through clouds of happiness, because it’s not always sad girls who write. Happiness deserves to be an inspiration, because we are not undeserving of it.
Right now there’s 21 posts so far, not bad. I think I did somehow cover all that. A little into this month last year, I formally became a postdoc when I said I never wanted to be that. I took that job because I would otherwise be jobless indefinitely. It was a choice between being practical and demanding to get what I want – I let go of my ego. And in letting go, I found an even deeper appreciation for research and for all the stakeholders in the academe. But I was finally sure that wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.
March. I started a project with my friend, Yeshi. We opened a photo-sketch travel website (Tamago Walks) and this had kept me busy almost every weekend. Taking photos, editing videos, drawing, editing, writing blogs. Unconsciously, it helped me channel all the pain I had from 2017 into something else. It made me forget I cared about finding love. I was finally out of the heartbroken trench I fell into. Things felt like they were looking up, I thought I could feel that way forever.
May. My most memorable trip to date – I went to Ladakh alone. I realize now why I loved that solo trip – because it was an area of my life I both had and did not have control. It allowed me to be what I truly wanted to be in that moment because nobody held me against who they thought I was. It was exciting discomfort. This was also the month I fell in love after more than a year of guarding and nursing myself back. I knew he’d break my heart the moment I did, but I fell anyway.
June. All the hardwork looking for a job outside research finally paid off. I was ecstatic for this milestone. Although I was sad for leaving my NUS family and I was nervous of what laid ahead (would I ace it like how I imagined, or would I not?), I was excited. It was a new beginning, and an incredibly lucky one at that – I got exactly the job description I was looking for. But the new environment reminded me how it was to start all over. It took me months to become comfortable at my new workplace, but when I was, I was again reminded that things fall into place always eventually. For all the anxiety and self-consciousness I felt, my manager gave me a good review at the end of my 6 month probation this December.
July. I formally graduated from PhD. Ironically, while I’ve been planning my entire PhD to write an exposé of the horrible truths of being a PhD student, beyond what everyone outside the academe thinks of us, all I wrote about was gratitude. The silver linings I found at the end of it all outshined all the darkness. It was a chapter closed and I’m glad I finished. How I wish my mom was there, but it was great to have my dad and my brother at my side. We were at the age wherein we were both family and friends.
August. I broke my heart. But I didn’t hate him like how I was angry at my previous heartbreak. I simply recognized the connection for what it was and that it was time to let go. I was sad, but I didn’t go back to the trenches.
October. I turned 30. No flashy celebration, just a simple acceptance of age.
November. I published my first book, ‘Inay’. I got over my self-doubt if it would get positive feedback or not. And for every kind word I got for this book, I was reminded of the person who wrote that book. And how I need reminding to be that person still. I was thankful to get reminded by my brother that money is there for our dreams, and this was a dream I gladly paid for, if only to share about my relationship with my mother. More importantly, I was reminded of how fortunate I was with friends. My friends who wholeheartedly supported my book, bought it, read it, and told me how much they loved it. It was incredibly humbling.
December. My dad retired at 60. It felt like the dawn of a new era – of thinking better how long more I plan to be abroad, and how I want to define my life. And so in moving forward, these are the goals I want to live out this year
- Love. Although my feng shui says it’s my lucky year for love, I will not try to fall in love with every other guy I make a strong connection with. Instead, I will fall in love with people more. I will trust rather than doubt. I will slow down and take the time to smile, or at least to acknowledge. I will listen and I will be humble. In that way, there’s no way I’ll end this year loveless.
- Live. I will own myself. I will not apologize for who I am. I will stand up for myself rather than choosing to always be the one shortchanged. I will embrace my passions and not be embarrassed of the simplicity of my dreams, of my excesses and my inadequacies, of the vulnerability of my soul.
- Learn. I will actively learn and teach again. PhD burned me out, it made me feel like school was a hot coal in my hands I wanted to get rid of the moment I could. But I love them both and giving up pursuing the standard life after PhD doesn’t mean I’m giving up what I love.
- Build. I will live simply. I will build my wealth actively – not just to be rich, but to be able to share what I have and to live out my dreams. I will see money for what it is, a medium for trade, not a purpose.
- Give. Because it’s my end goal for all the points previous to this. Because my life is not just for myself, and all my decisions should have this in mind.