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.

What I Learnt in 2016

#PushThrough

It’s been a long time since I posted here. But I felt like this is the age where life starts to get confusing and difficult, and I wanted a online diary (of sorts) to document all the ups and downs of this wondrous life.

I’m going to be 17 in a few weeks. In one year, I will take my A Level examinations, and then I will go to university and work towards a career of my own.

As exciting as that sounds, I am so confused as to what I want. Before this year, I thought I knew what I wanted to do in life. I was going to do medicine, and be an oncologist. I was so convinced this is what my future holds.

Now, I’m not so sure. I was advised that I need to start thinking about career and university plans, and as I was doing my research for that, all my plans began to unravel. Am I really capable of medicine, when I’m so careless and incapable in mere lab sessions? Or was I really drawn to it because of the glamour and excitement it brings? Am I really interested in medicine? Because while biology is my favourite subject and I do good in it, I don’t read up on medicine articles and books as fervently as my friends.

I was told to see what I am interested in. The thing is, I am a Jack of all trades, but really, master of none. I like reading articles on human affairs and education, I like watching vlogs on Youtube, I like seeing the editing and the videography of videos. I love films, I love television shows, I love books and stories. Maybe what I liked about medicine was the human interaction.

Then, I came across Boston University’s College of Communications, and I felt like that was everything I was interested in.

But what if this is a rash impulse? How do I know for sure that that is really what I wanted? The only thing I knew I wanted was that I want to study overseas. I want to experience independence, no matter how terrifying that seems, and I want that freshmen experience that I can get in the United States.

This itself opens another Pandora’s box. I want that experience so much, but I feel so bad to let my parents pay for such an expensive education. If I knew what I wanted, I could convince myself that it is a worthy investment, but alas, I don’t even know what I want. I don’t even know if going overseas is even feasible.

Another thing I know about myself is that I don’t want to do research. I’m currently on a research attachment, and I’m finding out more and more that this is definitely not a career path I want and am suited for. It’s so stuffy and rigid, and I’m just not that type of girl that can regurgitate Chemistry facts or do calculations at the top of my head.

I got scolded today for showing illogical experimental design, and it is true. I made so many stupid mistakes, but I still feel weird about making mistakes and getting scolded. Not bitter, but just weird. Unaccustomed. This made me realise that there’s a lot for me to learn for the future, and I realised that life will not be as smooth sailing and as successful as school is, and I have to learn to accept it. I have to learn to accept that mistakes are inevitable, however embarrassing and ridiculous my mistakes always turn out to be, and that I have to learn to be out of my comfort zone and be able to move on from my mistakes. I need to learn that it’s not my mistakes that define me, but my attitude and actions that follows. As long as I am responsible and honest and do my utmost best, I must have faith that I will turn out fine. I must also learn to not grovel and please everyone. There will be people will not like me no matter how hard I try, and that’s okay. That’s life. I haven’t learnt all these lessons yet, not yet, but I will repeat this to myself whenever I face any hard days over the next month or so. I will be fine, as long as I work hard and show that I am willing to learn from my mistakes.

I will end off this really rambling post with this beautiful video that fills me with hope, optimism, determination and tears. This is the mantra that Jasmyn Wright, an American educator, teaches her third-grade students to say everyday before lessons. I urge anyone reading this to check out the video and this news article written on it. It is really worth it.

If they can do it, I can do it too. #PushThrough

Video

28/4/2013

This video made me cry, but I’m so thankful I watched it. When the coach of the Thunderbirds said he was prepared to lose to let Mitchell have his shot, I cried. When the supporters on the stand chanted Mitchell’s name, I cried. When Jonathan, the guy who passed the ball to Mitchell to let him have his shot, I cried. When Mitchell finally had his shot, and was surrounded by so many people who were so happy for him, I cried.
I’m so thankful I watched this, because it taught me so much. It taught me that although there are bullies and people who hurt other people, there are also these amazing, kind-hearted, selfless people. In this video, I saw that people don’t really care about your disability or your flaw. And when Jonathan said that he was taught to treat people like how he wanted to be treated, I realised that that was what everyone should do. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

P.S. I’m sorry if this is incoherent. I’m just so overwhelmed by how much I can learn everyday from a simple action from an ordinary but extraordinary person.

Video

27/4/2013

While boarding the bus back from an interview for a History project, a Caucasian lady, carrying her newborn, extremely adorable, sleeping baby and a paper bag, and an elderly lady boarded. The bus driver immediately got out of the driver’s compartment, and asked politely for two young ladies to stand up and give up their seats (which were priority seats) to them. And of course they obliged. I think most of the people around them were watching as this scene unfolds, myself included, and I couldn’t help but smile at the graciousness the bus driver (and of course the two cooperative ladies) showed. I was just so happy and touched and heartened by what I saw. I wanted to say something to show my admiration or appreciation to that bus driver, but was at a loss of what to say, so I decided to make it a point to write this beautiful moment down in my blog/journal. To this amazing man, merci beaucoup(thank you very much).
Shortly after, a group of rambunctious teenaged boys boarded, in jerseys and high spirits. Through the journey, some of them attained seats at the back whereas some remained in the front. Two boys managed to sit on two priority seats, and I immediately judged them. I was internally criticizing them for being so ungracious (even though there was no one in great need of those seats). But when one elderly man boarded, they immediately stood back up and said, “Er Uncle, you can sit.” And immediately, all my criticism directed towards them vanished without a trace. I smiled again. And even though they went to sit on the engine (I think) afterwards although it wasn’t really meant for sitting, I didn’t have the heart to judge and criticise them. As Gretchen Rubin wrote, “Cut people some slack.” For all I know, they might have just came back from a soccer practice, and their feet were aching. Thank you to this two boys. You made me learn to think before I judge, and I’m glad I witnessed your actions.
In a short span of 20 minutes, I witnessed two powerful moments, and the world seemed brighter… (Okay who was I kidding?) The world remained the same brightness, but I felt lighter, happier. And I’m thankful for it.
I’m also thankful that I am loved by my parents and brother and helper and my family, and that my parents cared enough to ferry me from one place to another. I know I don’t show my gratitude or love often (it may even seem nonexistant, giving the fact I’m a grumpy cold-blooded person), but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful. I am. I’m also thankful for all that I have, especially the chance to read and possess The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin is amazing.

27/4/2013

Thoughts on The Happiness Project

In The Happiness Project’s chapter of July, Gretchen mentioned “Spend out!” as one of her resolutions of the month. This made me realise how alike Gretchen and I are, in terms of characteristics. She’s an under buyer, a “satisficer” and a “maximiser”. I am, too. I like to calculate and compare prices and criteria of things and see which is most worth it.
But after reading that chapter, I realise that I, too, want to “spend out”. I like to hoard things because I don’t want to waste it and I want to keep it for some other time in the future (which probably will never ever come). Or I don’t like to buy things, because well I want to wait for something better, that might or might not come. But now, I want to change this. I want to spend out.
I’m not really meaning buying anything I want or doing anything I want on a whim, but I definitely want to stop hoarding things. I want everything to be more organized in my life, so that I can be in control of one aspect in my life, even if the rest (such as school) is falling apart. I think it’ll give me a sense of security.
I’m also going to keep a happiness and gratitude journal (which I learnt from the chapter of August). I’m going to post things that made my happy, or things I’m thankful for on this blog. And through this I want to take note of all those happy moments, be it little moments or large ones, and be more grateful, and through this be more satisfied with my life and learn to forget all my troubles. I hope this will help.

I think, Gretchen Rubin is my spiritual teacher.

Thoughts on The Happiness Project