Is it too early for a year-in-review post?

So I deadass left this blog languishing for a whole year. *slow claps for self*

What can I say, 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, with so many new experiences and encounters and invaluable lessons learned along the way. People came and left, connections sparked and died, and some old ones reignited. So many changes, so many emotions – they all came at breakneck speed, and sometimes I barely had time to take a moment to just sit and think (or maybe I did too much of that in the wrong way – I’m learning to catch myself when I start to overthink these days), or just take a breather.

Aside from the global catastrophes that I’m sure no one wants to be reminded of yet again (we’re still living our way through it, after all), on the personal front, 2020 came with extremities of laughter and tears, and I’m truly thankful for everything, the good and the bad.

This year, I experienced immense joy, little moments of sublime happiness that seem surreal now when I look back on them. Despite the physical lockdowns and restrictions, my soul had tasted a bit of freedom. This was the year I let go and let myself live – albeit just a little – instead of sticking to my usual austere routine. I opened up to people, much more than I ever allowed myself to, and strayed out of my comfort zone, my safe little bubble of one.

This year, I was also forced to look my insecurities in the figurative eye and contend with old wounds that I had left buried for so long I thought they no longer existed. (News flash: your subconscious doesn’t forget. Anything that is not worked through will come back to bite you in the ass twice as hard.)

This year, corny as it might sound, I learned a huge lesson in self-love. The importance of it. Why we need to be our own best friend, cheerleader, and even lover. How I want to be loved. How my soul needs to be cared for. How to listen to my own needs instead of constantly taking on other people’s problems and making sure they’re happy and appeased. How to set boundaries and not accept less than what I deserve. It really does all begin with the self. Only when we mend what is broken within us will we be able to love others the way they need to be loved. Only when we give ourselves the love and joy we seek can we in turn pour that love and joy into others, instead of expecting them to fill us up. Only when we know what we want will we not settle for less. (That’s a mouthful of alliteration, I apologise.)

I can’t say that I’m a hundred percent satisfied with all my decisions this year. There are many things I wish I had handled differently, better, with more grace and understanding. Being more honest and communicative about my thoughts/needs is also something I continue to struggle with, because of my inherent people-pleasing nature and knee-jerk response to brush off everything and act like they don’t affect me one bit. But I guess we all just have to live with the choices we made, the things we said or did.

Perhaps the key is to just keep moving forward. We already know what happened in the past and there’s nothing we can do to change it, so only the future holds the answer. And the only way to know what happens next is to live from this moment to the next, and the next after that.

I’ve been doing much better at living in the present these days. For the better part of the year, I’d been gripped by relentless anxiety and the desperate need for control, for things to turn out the way I want them to, not realising that nothing is ever in my control, and that there’s no point in trying to direct the course. These days, I’m water, steadily moving forward. Tackling the to-do list, getting started on new projects, hopping back on track with the goals and plans, focusing on the things within my control and tuning out the rest (or trying my best to).

That means more writing, less worrying. Doing more of the things that light up my soul and stressing less over external things/people/issues. It means retreating to my cave and working quietly while staying open to new experiences/people/opportunities that come knocking. It means not getting attached to any particular outcome, and letting both my head and my heart lead me forward, instead of getting carried away by either. It means listening to my intuition and seeing the red flags for what they are, but also keeping on the rose-tinted glasses that help me move through the world with a healthy dose of optimism and good faith. It means less talk, more action. Less expectation, more persistence and discipline.

It means sticking to the game plan in 2021. Rolling up the sleeves and getting back to work. Manifesting. Staying hopeful, excited, and grateful.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who’s played a part in shaping 2020 for me. 2021. I’m ready for you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

PS. My new website is finally up! Have a peep and watch that space for more updates!

thoughts on turning 27

27 seems like an age people typically forget. It gets meshed together with the rest of our late twenties in a blur of work, anxiety, deadlines, bill-paying, anxiety, counting down to the weekends, anxiety…

So turning 27 typically doesn’t feel very monumental to most people. For me, however, turning 27 feels like somewhat of an achievement, all things considered. In the past year, I a) started questioning my life goals and trajectory, b) realised I might have anxiety, c) survived a depressive funk.

But thankfully, things were not all doom and gloom. In the past year, I also a) met many more book people (my tribe!!), in particular three incredibly smart women — Meredith, Nicole, and Becky — who share my love for writing and fiction, b) realised where I truly feel at home (not in fashion or retail, but in books and publishing), c) found and stuck to friends whom I know will have my back and never judge me for being myself around them, d) made progress with the Work in Progress (FINALLY we’re going somewhere).

Turning 27, I also learned these six things:

  1. Don’t label yourself.
    “Oh, I’m an INFP. This is just how I am.” You’re only limiting your growth and allowing yourself to stay stagnant with your flaws.
  2. Instead of tuning out that negative voice in your head, engage it in a (mental) conversation.
    Find out what it wants, where it came from, how you can come to a consensus with it.
  3. Don’t sweep the bad stuff under the carpet.
    That only ensures that they come back to bite you in the ass twice as aggressively. We need to look our emotions in the eye and acknowledge them. The only way through is through.
  4. Worry about one thing, you miss out on a whole bunch of other things.
    Basically what this article said. In particular, this:
    “While anxiety helps us focus on a task, it also blinds us to other opportunities. As a result, unlucky people miss out on prospects because they’re too busy worrying about one thing. Lucky people, on the other hand, are open to new experiences. They’re more willing to talk to new people, travel to new places, and try new things.”
  5. Don’t worry about what the rest of the world is doing.
    This is what my anxiety tells me: “You are missing out. You’re falling behind. Other people are having fun without you, having more fun without you; they’re on the fast track through life and ticking off everything on their bucket list, while you’re just doing the same shit day after day.”
    But that’s them and that’s their life. Not me and not mine. We don’t have to live by anyone else’s deadlines but our own.
  6. You’re miserable only because the gap between what you want and what you have is too big.
    Just do what you love and don’t expect it to bring you anything. Do what you love for the pure joy of it, and you won’t feel like you’re being owed anything.

Honestly, I’m still figuring this out and I don’t have all the answers yet. There are good days, and there are bad. But as long as the good outweigh the bad, I’d say we’re all heading in the right direction, no? One day at a time, is what I keep telling myself. Just focus on the next stone to step on and you won’t end up in the water.

So while I’m still a greedy piece of shit and want so much more out of life, these 27 years have been gratifying. Gained some, lost some. Aiming for the next stone.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been a part of this journey so far. Your mark is indelible. ♥

 

Dreams - Poem by Langston Hughes