second

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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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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6 thoughts on “second

  1. Brilliant, Christine! And congratulations on Year-One of this blogventure. Happy new year and _all that jazz_ 😀

    Very interesting to outline your goals as you have done and I (for one) have no doubt in your ability to attain those expressed here.

    Staying always ready, willing and able to ‘learn’ will no doubt prove to be the key to a successful and interesting life.

    There is never any shortage of advice about love and to prove that point I will dare to offer what I feel to be essential to finding the “one” – since you have expressed a desire to modify your views in this regard:

    I myself was the victim of serial heartbreak until venturing into a mental exercise that prepared me to recognize my soul-mate when she walked into my life. In desperation I reviewed those individuals I had felt compelled to love more deeply than – in hind-sight – I wish I had. I thought long and hard about what characteristics about each I most missed in their absence. I thought about what do I desire from a relationship that I have yet to encounter. In short I mentally prepared a “girl of my dreams” based on aspects of love I had gleaned from my life. I looked at my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors – good and bad…

    As heartless as this may sound; until I was able to describe to myself this person, in detail, I felt as though I was adrift in hopelessness. However, once I had the ‘template’ – remarkably soon after – an angel stepped right into this halo I had already prepared.

    I find myself increasingly growing into a believer of predestination and am quite certain the person you seek can only be seeking after you. Of course, we know not what the future may hold – “best laid plans” and all that…

    My sincerest best wishes for contentment in the year (and years) ahead… _Live Long and Prosper_ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Michael! Thank you so much for being part of this year long journey so far! ☺️ When I read your comment the other day I got truly excited to start building my own description as well. This is probably the most useful advice I’ve ever received, second to “just be patient” haha. But in all honesty that has been something probably wrong I’m doing. You see like most other girls, I started this journey of finding love with a list on my mind. And with every person I fell in love with, this list would change, especially when the person also breaks my heart. Eventually I gave up keeping a list already because it never did seem to go well if I followed it. But the way you did it seems a much better strategy. Do you think love is rational? In any case, I have decided to try your method. Whether it works or not is on me don’t worry, as there may be nuances between how you did it and how I did it. But hopefully by the end of this year, you’ll hear about how it went. 😊 i can only imagine how it must have felt for you when you finally met your wife! What a beautiful love story, I hope you share more about it in the future! wishing you and your family beautiful things this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Christine,
    Sounds like an innocent enough question doesn’t it: “Do you think love is rational?” I must say it set the windmills of the mind a-turning…

    Love is multifaceted and it could be said that some aspects appear rational where others seem without a doubt irrational. The task of explaining what love is so easily plunges one into the poetical that even the attempt to do so is akin to chasing butterflies (and all the imagery that that act might inspire.)

    I believe it is us, the creatures, who prefer to think ourselves rational. We seek for an explanation of Love before we can commit to it. Love – it is said – is an emotion (which I find to be a misleading notion.) Holy scripture tells us that Love is God’s essence. We like to think that we are the arbiters of Love and it is ours to do with what we will… this too is a mistake. I think it is a blurring of the lines between “Love” and “Will” that lead to much in the way of disappointment.

    At the risk of getting “preachy” I think it is important to remember that there is purpose to all that is. There will never be an Earthly (rational) explanation for any of it. If you can accept there are forces at work, greater that we can possibly imagine, then given the statement “God is Love” we must conclude that True Love is the only rational thing there is…

    As we live our lives we must recognize that in our current reality we are perpetually experiencing consecutive “now” moments in time; a seemingly endless series of “nows” that give the perception of movement, much like the advancing frames of a film trick us into perceiving action before us. We are constituted with memories which serve to prove our existence in our own minds. We tend to remember our past but are powerless to do anything to change it. It truly “Is, What It Is” (or “Was” if you prefer.)

    The mental exercise I suggested in my previous comment has incumbent upon it acceptance of the notion that the future is as equally immutable as the past. While we never really know what the future will bring, it is often surprising when things come to pass just as we perceive them. Very often humanity gets caught up in chasing the realizations of their own preconceptions; they lose sight of the joy that is promised by living life in the will of Wills. Trust that you are granted only the power to glimpse the future as it _truly is_ and will never see what will never be. Things will happen that will cause you to question your very existence at times but just wait for it… you will very often find yourself in “one moment in time” that will shine unmistakable clarity on all that came before, and that light will be shining from the truth set directly before you.

    Don’t get me wrong Christine, I certainly was not of this mindset “back in the day,” when I met the lady who would ultimately become my wife. Nor was I walking “the straight and narrow” path to enlightenment… but enlightenment will come to those who seek it. Enlightenment will most certainly come to all, regardless… seek contentment – you will find it only on the path to Love.

    Thanks for this opportunity to attempt to somewhat clarify a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wow Michael. Again and again, your comments prove to always be so insightful. It took me a few days to digest everything you brought up. I never did think it was an innocent question. It’s a question that I always ask myself. I actually see love as completely irrational. I don’t think I can reply to everything you shared point by point, but I certainly am ruminating on all of them over the past few days. I love your last line especially, emphasizing the path to love. Thank you so much Michael for sharing your wisdom always. Everyone close to you must be so fortunate to be able to hear these words themselves. It’s not so often people can express themselves profoundly on the more important things in life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The concepts I have expressed here are not typically offered freely to family and friends but they were the frequent underpinnings for the occasional lecture to my children (when the situation warranted – the memory of which would induce eye-rolls in them to this day) 😉

        I therefore always feel at risk of being viewed as patronizing in the sharing of my views with you in this forum. I appreciate your consideration and comments on what may well be reasoned to be nonsensical ramblings. Know that these words are inspired by yours and I truly thank you (as always) for the opportunities toward introspection.

        Perhaps it is our interactions with love that are always completely irrational. We like to think of love as though it were a solid, an object for our consumption. Viewing love as a sort of luminiferous aether might begin to approach a truer simile. The power of love being a driving force; the rejection of the same – wherein the bulk of humanity finds its heroes – being the general state of affairs.

        Like

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