Goodbye, 2020

Yes, I know time is a social construct and exists independently of humans, so the concept of New Year is just our way of creating some semblance of linearity so we can bring some order into the chaos etc., but I like the idea of beginning anew, moving inexorably from this moment to the next, and discovering what lies ahead. I like the idea of leaving the past behind us even as we hold close the lessons that hindsight brings us. I like the definitive delineation that the New Year offers, like chapter breaks that let us get up for a drink of water and some space to clear our minds. I like the clarity that the stillness brings after the relentless motion of the entire year.

The pocket of space between this year and the next is a time to breathe, reclaim ourselves, and plan our next step. To remind ourselves of how far we’ve come and how we each have the strength to go further. To smile. To dream. To grief. To hurt. To achieve. To discover. To love again.

So thank you, 2020. You’ve been strange, surreal, chaotic, intense, heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Here’s to serendipitous discoveries, unwavering inner peace, and the courage to pursue what sets our souls on fire in 2021 as we make our way through the inherent chaos of life.

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!

Happy 4th Anniversary, Muses!

The short story blog is now a wild toddler!

*blows dust off blog*

I know, I know. It’s been almost a full year since I last blogged. I don’t know how time passed so quickly, but this year has been … eventful, to say the least.

From forest fires to a certain deadly pandemic making its rounds around the world to the fight against racism to rising unemployment rate and global economic standstill (I could go on, but I’m already out of breath), there’s barely been time to sit down and properly lay down my thoughts this year.

It feels like everything’s been culminating in this whirlwind of a year, and I’ve been working double time to keep my spirits up and the hope alive. 2020 hasn’t been a complete washout of a year, though, and it’s not over yet so we still have time to make up for the past few months.

Anyway, this post was meant to be quick because I have a bunch of work to finish (more on that in an upcoming post, if I ever get around to it!) and the focus wasn’t supposed to be on 2020, but on THE MUSES BLOG! We turned four recently and surpassed 500 followers!

*throws confetti*

When I first proposed the idea of a short story blog to my wonderful co-founders, Meredith and Nicole, I didn’t expect it to be a whole undertaking on its own. I figured it would just be a safe space for us to explore and experiment with different genres, forms, voices, etc. We would follow our curiosity, write stories that we’d never expected ourselves to write, make friends with other writers along the way. Now we’ve developed a writing community, gained a social media following on Twitter and Instagram, and even had guest writers on board.

It’s been an amazing ride, and I shall save the sappy words for my fellow Muses in private. But thank you to all of you who have followed, supported, given us a shout-out, liked our posts, and continued to keep the flame alive. We can’t wait to see where the next four years take us! ❤️

Bring it on, 2020.

Things to leave behind in 2019:

1. Negative self-talk
2. Self-doubt
3. The feeling of not being enough
4. The fear of making the first move
5. The need to be busy constantly
6. The desire to please everyone.

Things to embrace in 2020:

  1. Serendipitous encounters
  2. Heart-to-heart talks
  3. Letting go of structure and routine, following my mood and curiosity
  4. Saying what’s on my mind
  5. Listening to my body
  6. Reading more books, watching more films, putting the phone down

Sometimes, the thought of how finite our time is terrifies me. It sends me into a desperate frenzy to do everything all at once. Pick up a new skill. Enroll in a new course. Pack my social schedule back-to-back. Work on several side hustles. Complete my work ahead of time. Read multiple books at once. Write multiple books at once. No rest for the weary.

I had this insane thought that I needed to achieve everything I set out to in my twenties, otherwise I would have wasted all my youth. We only have that many decades to live, after all.

But it was in my relentless pursuit in the race against time that I had, ironically, lost time. Time to live instead of merely carve out a life.

Maybe we’re not meant to do everything all at once. Maybe I’ve been sprinting all this time with the audacious hope that I could be the one to defy the odds, unwilling to accept my fallibility. Maybe instead of constantly trying to push our limits, we need to understand why they exist to begin with. Maybe that’s when we can finally grow beyond our past selves.

So as this decade begins, I’m staring the present right in the figurative eye before it, too, becomes another memory. Not every moment has been perfect, but I’m thankful for every step of the way – the tears and laughter, the sleepless nights and hazy days, the moments of crippling despair and the moments of unadulterated happiness.

May we all enter the new decade with the same audacity and hope, but also more kindness for ourselves. After all, we only have that many decades to live.

Happy New Year to one and all!