A Year’s Learnings.

Last October, I set a new one-year goal. Periodically I evaluate my own life decisions and identify the areas of growth and knowledge I seek to live the life I believe in. This time last year I was lonely and tired, with my graduation certificate in my hands. I had silently went through 3 years, bit my lip through long painful days, without failing any modules. My situation back then gave me an opportunity to realise what I’ve neglected – my mental well-being, emotional responses as well as my relationships. The fact is they impact one another. With that, I told myself to be in touch with myself again and for one year, I will be patient. I will work on my distant relationships with myself, my family and my friends.

Becoming distant was not a choice I made. It was the consequence of the hunger and pursuit of professional progress and excellence. I took up a degree without financial support, taking a loan that I refuse to spend my life paying. I gave myself 1-3 years to pay my debt. I wasn’t willing to compromise on job experience so I took up challenging career roles that could, on hindsight, damage me if I was to slack on my dilligence, ethics, and reputation. I earned enough to pay my monthly bills. I learnt a lot, in marketing, in friendships, from other people and I modified some of my values and mentality. I realised the importance of having resillience – also that grit – to so desperately want to make things happen. That no matter what others say of you, it is not true until you agree. I am more convicted that only I, have the power to determine the person I am and want to be. We don’t know what we are able to do until we are left with that one choice.

There are people that gained clarity on life upon knowledge of chronic disease, illnesses or disability to themselves. I find it a blessing that I had embrace the knowledge or death and uncertainty of circumstances at a younger age. That allowed me to see what mattered to me. I want to make an impact, in people’s lives, no matter how small the gesture. I want to share my learnings, and the learnings others share with me, with more people. I believe my life purpose is to create. Among all other things I want to create, I started small, and finally created a blog – this blog.

Call it ignorance or complacence, I neglected my favorite hobbies as a kid. I used to paint and draw for hours and that is practically the only thing that could make me focus and remain wordless for hours. I thought it was a useless gift because in Singapore, that cannot earn you enough dough to feed myself, needless to say, a family in the future. Then I realised, there are so many parts of us that make us up. After 9 years, I took up a pencil and a brush again and started creating. I realised what I was missing, and what made me fall in love with it as a kid. It is a communication channel, a form of expression that is universal. While creating you speak to yourself, you ask yourself what colors to put in, how detail you want the strokes to be, how precise you want your artwork to replicate the real thing. I became effortlessly happy, appreciating some of the mundane surroundings which I’ve overlooked for years, found back my love for nature and I became present.

Becoming present was the most valuable lesson I relearned. It is not difficult yet easily forgotten in the fast paced economy. To me, being present is the root of appreciation. Being present is doing what you can at the moment to change whatever you didn’t like about your life. Being present is not procrastinating, being decisive when you can yet being yielding when it comes to situations we can’t change immediately. The fact is we cannot make things significantly better overnight, but being present means being honest with yourself – where you are at and where you ideally want to be.

I neglected my emotional well-being, working until 3am in the morning on some days and 10pm on the other days. On those days I end at 10pm, it is because my office building have a lights-off policy. I either went back to continue my work, or did my school work and projects. My weekends were spent in front of my Macbook, scooping whatever food that was placed in front of me, having conversations with my significant other and the TV playing in the background. I met my close friends once a year, and I forgot what it is like to shop in a mall. I was constantly stressed out, snapping at many whoevers and whatevers that hindered my work. I slept on sofas on most of the days, was on the phone with clients in the taxi, did my make-up in the car and my phone messages are left unanswered for days, until I decided it was time to rest. This one year, I took things slower, trained a little more patience, and had more time to listen. I realised how emotional well-being impacted my physical state – I was constantly sick. I also notice the changes in my loved ones attitude towards me – nonchalence. I refined my understanding towards my ideal mental and physical states and the importance of them.

Like I said, I neglected my relationships. I wasn’t there to listen when my family and friends needed me. I wasn’t there to solve any misunderstandings and unhappy feelings of my loved ones. I didn’t regret my decision to take that path, but I deeply regreted my failure to be present on special occasions, even though I never fail to remember and wish them. It hit me really hard one day in my 2nd year of school, when my closest friends didn’t wish me on my birthday, and the enthusiasm level visibly dropped each year for 3 years. I learnt. This one year, I dedicated myself to be present for every meet up. Initiating messages and meet-ups with them, reassuring that I’m not doing this because I got into a sales line. I focussed on regaining their trust. After this year of change, I feel much more fulfilled. That translated into a healthier mental and physical state. I’m still improving until this day. It is not as quick as I would like, but I believe thet will become ideal again, following with maintaining them with consistency and patience. Regardless of how difficult conversations might be, I will go through them. Through heated disucssions and sometimes tears, I learnt that although peole can be brought together by common interests and preferences, true friendships require much more. The people you can talk to and hit it off does not mean your friendships will be strong. True, strong friendships are made. They are made through effort, time and translating that into shared experience and memories. True friends are not perfect conversationalists or exceptional intellectual exchanges, but they are uniquely forged by two people who genuinely care about each other. They stand the strongest through time and adversity, and the individual differences make each member valuable. Besides friends, I was thankful to the unconditional love my parents have shown throughout despite co-inhabiting with an explosive robot, triggered by the sound of her own name. I will continue to strive for understanding from me, and to me, with my parents. They are my only pair and will always be.

It’s not a valuable lesson if there’s no change. It’s not a sustainable change without an attempt to make it a habit. It’s no longer a one-year goal. I will now continue to love – myself, my family and my friends – better, and with more strength and courage.


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