It’s that time of the year again. December is always bittersweet for me – it’s the month of holiday decorations and Christmas carols, of warm hugs and hot chocolate, the month of reflection and gratitude, the month that wraps up the year to an end. December is an emotional roller coaster for me. One moment I’m skipping down the street soaking in every bit of the glittering holiday lights and feeling like a child again, feeling like nothing in the world could bring me down. And the next, I’m sitting in my room alone, thinking deeply about how productive my year was and wondering if I’m ready for adulthood, ready to take on a new year, ready to leave 2016.
2017. Twenty-seventeen will be a big year for me. I remember going into first year of university and thinking that 2017, my graduation year, was a long way to go.
But here I am, standing in the doorway of 2017. That went by so crazy fast. What happened? Well, a lot happened haha. But is this how I wanted it to end? Did I fulfill what I wanted to during these 4 years? I don’t know. I can definitely point out a lot of the mistakes I made, a lot of things I regret not doing. A lot of things I wish I had done. But I also have many, many amazing memories and achievements that I will never let go of. But I think I sometimes get too caught up in what I failed at, and forget to give my good aspects of life enough attention. But December always reminds me to be thankful, to be grateful of what I have, to reflect on what I’ve done. Of course this is something that should happen every month of the year, but it’s hard. It really is. We get so caught up in life that we forget to be thankful of the little things.
So, I decided to write a little gratitude and reflection post for 2016. 2016 was quite an event-filled year for me of both highs and lows. But I’ll try and focus on the highs.
Friends. 2016 was a year of new friendships for me. That’s one thing that comes to mind first. Friends come and go. But I don’t believe that you need to constantly hang out with someone to be considered a friend. The friends I surrounded myself in in first year – the friends I spent almost every day with – I barely see them anymore. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care for them. We just split ways and made new friend groups, but when we do meet up once in a while, it’s like back to first year.
And I’m grateful to have friends like that. Ones I know will be there for me even if we barely see each other. And trust me, I’m also there for you no matter what. But, this is another topic that I could go on forever with. So back to 2016. Towards the start of 2016, I met some amazing people who I can now call my closest friends. It’s crazy how things unfold. I honestly never would have thought this to happen. But that’s how life works, right? And I’m honestly so so so thankful for them, so grateful that I met these people.
And then there are the people who I knew before 2016 that I was never really that close to, but became much closer to this year. It’s interesting how things change. And I’m so thankful for whatever reason, whatever event it was that led us to become closer friends.
Family. It’s tradition for families to get together and celebrate Christmas/the holidays/the end of a year. They come together and share stories and bond over delicious home cooked meals. But family is a touchy topic for me. I, for one, have never experienced that typical family holiday gathering. My family doesn’t really get together for a multiple reasons, but here’s two main ones. One, my mum’s side are all in Japan and my father’s are mostly in China. Two, my parents don’t get along. They’ve never gotten along from as far as I could remember. So to me, it’s not like it was a big change. My parents weren’t lovey-dovey and then divorced. I never experienced that transition, which I guess I could say I’m thankful for because it must be terrible to go through as a child – to see your family change that much. But for me, it was a bit different. For the entirety of my childhood, I actually thought it was normal for parents to sleep in different rooms, on different floors. All parents had their own room, right? But of course I eventually learned that wasn’t the case after visiting my friends’ houses and seeing my friends’ parents hold hands, seeing them kiss. I still joke how I thought it was abnormal and icky that other parents did that hahaha. But I just didn’t grow up to that. I never experienced it at home so it was, to be honest, foreign to me. What I was used to was hearing my parents argue every second night while I pretended to sleep, and listen to them complain about each other as I try to hold in my tears. So, not surprisingly, we never really had family gatherings. But of course, I’m still grateful for them. Although they weren’t the best of role models, they still cared for me in their own ways and loved me. That I know for sure. And I don’t think I turned out too bad, right? Haha. But I need to thank my friends for that. There were so many times I’ve cried myself to sleep and if not for my friends at school, I probably wouldn’t bother waking up. And I’m thankful for those who listen to my rants, because honestly I need to let it out sometimes. And it feels so much better getting everything out of my system, with the comfort of a friend.
So yea, Christmas is bittersweet for me. Everyone is with their families and it sometimes just makes me wonder what it would be like, how different my life would be, if my parents loved each other. It makes me want to experience that huge family gathering, the large dining table overfilled with plates of food and the room echo-ing with laughter and fun talks. To me, it’s more like a scene from a movie than reality.
School. Ah, school. Graduation is creeping up on me at a terrifying speed. Do I know what I’m doing after I graduate? No, not really. Did that mean I wasted my four years of undergrad? Well, I sure as hell hope not. Although I might not be too sure about what I’m doing after I graduate, I think it’s alright (who am I kidding, I have panic attacks thinking of what I’m going to do LOL). But whenever I get really worried, I try to stop and remind myself that it’s alright. It’s alright to take it slow. You just had 4 years of gruelling school filled with all-nighters and cramming, that 1 year to just take it slow is OK, no? Well, that’s what I think at least. Of course, for those of you who know exactly what you’re doing, that’s amazing. Graduate, and get right to it. But I also think it’s fine to step back and take a break if you aren’t one of those people. Yes, I’m considering grad school but I don’t see the point in applying yet if I don’t know what exactly I want to go for. I think, considering the amount of time, money, effort that goes into grad school, you should be putting in a LOT of consideration of what you’re going in for. If you’re not sure, then take the time to find out! Despite me always complaining to my friends that we’re so old, I do truly think that our career, something that pretty much takes the majority of your life, can wait the 1 or 2 year break. Explore and try new things. Go discover yourself, because let’s be real. It’s sometimes hard to do that in school.
On the topic of trying new things, I tried really hard to make this last year of undergrad count. This past summer, I interned at a hospital, helping and observing special needs children in the pediatric/psychology department. I also worked hard on my blog this year, because who knows. Maybe I can transition my love for fashion and blogging hobby into a career? I also started and founded a new club at my school to experience creating and managing a team, an organization, from scratch. I think a lot of us don’t acknowledge our achievements because we’re scared it’ll make us sound cocky. But there is a fine line between proud and cocky. I’m always so harsh on myself (shout-out to my Asian father with ridiculous standards haha) but I think I deserve to be proud of myself once in a while. We all do.
And I guess I just want to end by saying Thank your lucky stars, because we all have them. Take this month, take the remaining few weeks of 2016, to be grateful for everything you have, and to acknowledge your achievements. We have so much to be thankful for.
2016, thank you.
Photographer: Clement Cheng (IG: @clemango)