What I Learnt in 2016

I would just like to start by saying that 2016 was a hell of a ride, and that I honestly mean it when I said I feel that I’ve grown a lot this year.

At the start of 2016, I didn’t know that going to junior college would have such an immense impact on my life. I thought junior college was just going to be another school, and that life will be more or less the same. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Everything became more difficult this year. This really affected me. I was already used to failures, but still, I was not prepared for everything that life threw at me this year. Homework was tough to complete, and I lost motivation to do work. Project Work tested my patience and resilience. Research really tested me intellectually and emotionally, and made me question who I am, what I like and what my future holds.

What this year really taught me was this: Grades matter really little in this world. What matters more is your attitude and personality – how you view things and how you approach them. Whether you have the perseverance, courage and emotional strength to endure all that life throws at you.

It really made me think: Am I really ready to be an adult and step into the real world? Next year, I will be 18, but somehow, as I grow older, I become more unprepared to be a fully fledged adult. If you ask 15-year-old me, she would be confident in her ability that no matter what obstacles she face, she will always find a way to conquer it and succeed. Now, I’m not sure.

I realise that I’m not as independent as I think. I always need people’s assurances, and I hardly make a decision on my own.

I also learnt that I crave for others’ approval and liking. I hate it when I know someone doesn’t like me, and don’t approve of my ability, which made my research journey so upsetting for me, because my mentor deemed me incapable and didn’t show approval of me. I was so used to being good at things, and having teachers and relatives like you for being quiet, good, hardworking, intelligent, but now that this is not the case. But I realise that this is life, and in life, not everybody will like you and fawn over you like in primary school. I realise that I do not need to earn the approval of everybody, but only those that matters. Still, this bothers me and will be something I need to work on in the future.

I also learnt that I am good at studying, but is that necessarily a good thing? I realise that I do well in examinations, but when it comes to daily life, I have nonexistent common sense, and I cannot recall and apply what I learnt in school to real life. This worries me. Why am I stressing out and studying for assessments if I am going to fail at my biggest, lifelong test – my life? I need to learn how to stop and think before doing, think before saying, and just think, and not be the clumsy fool bumbling around.

This year also made me question my life choices. Am I really suited for a career in science (biology or medicine), seeing how clumsy and stupid I was in research, or should I go for a more arts related career like psychology, sociology, education or business? I do well in the former, but I really take initiative to explore the latter in my leisure. Next year, I will have to make decisions on my career choices and what universities I want to go to, but I’m so not ready for this. How can adults expect barely-18-year-olds to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they don’t even know what each career truly entails? Such a flaw in this system.

2016 was also filled with so much calamities. Brexit. Donald Trump. Berlin Christmas market shooting. Orlando nightclub shooting. Many other terror attacks and gun shootings. The Syrian crisis. Carrier Fisher. Debbie Reynolds. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. So many lives lost.

That being said, 2016 wasn’t all bad.

I experienced new firsts: stand up paddling, doing my first online transaction, placing 3rd in a lion dance competition, ranking 13th in my cohort for my Biology block test, doing a research project, having a sleepover with my friends for Halloween Horror Night. I made new friends, and shared experiences with them, and I fell more in love with old friends and tried to keep those friendships as well. I went to Japan for the first time ever. I watched so many great films, television shows, read so many great books and listened to so much great music. I got into Korean dramas, variety shows and music, and learnt how to read Korean Hangeul.

I am super grateful for the opportunities and gifts that I have received in 2016, and for the opportunities and gifts I will receive in 2017. While I complain and whine about all my worries and obstacles that I face, I also know that I am super fortunate to be allowed to worry about these things, and not about whether I have enough food for the day, whether I have a roof over my head or whether the next airstrike would hit me. I will keep this in mind, and live my life to the fullest in 2017 and face each day with courage and determination.

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

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What I Learnt in 2016

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