146. 2015

Photo taken by me- 30 December, 2014
Looking back at “a year of blog posts”, I realized I haven’t really been writing much this year. (My 2013 wrap-up post was just six posts ago!) But I have posted some pretty monumental posts in 2014- monumental, for the depth of personal connection which I finally dared to post on a public domain; monumental, for the way I am learning to grapple with religion in my writing; and monumental, for the surprising number of people whom my writing has managed to touch.

Odd, that as I grow older I grow more introspective, but at the same time more willing to open up and reach out to other people. This year, I’ve learnt how everyone is fighting a battle you may not always know about, and yet, everyone has similar battles. So when you unsheathe your battle scars, and be open and honest about what it’s done to you and how you are trying to grow stronger, you help others as well as yourself.

My annual wrap-up posts (for lack of a better word) are usually in point form, I suppose to encourage brevity and aid my future selves in scanning through past posts. But this year I feel a little more like ruminating- perhaps because, like my roll of blog posts, 2014 has been quick but monumental.

Where to begin?

On a purely factual list, I began this year with the stuff of all students’ dreams: a half-year break between JC and university (sorry, boys). I chose to spend (most of) it doing a five-month internship at an e-commerce firm. I had long harboured wispy notions of entrepreneurship, particularly in the fashion line- in primary school, I had no idea what a lawyer was, but would tell literally anyone that I planned to be a fashion designer. In secondary school, this gave way to slightly more practical (if humdrum) ambitions, although I began to nurse an interest in graphic design, which continued into publicity work for my JC CCAs. My internship, therefore, was a culmination of sorts of buried ambitions and secret hopes which I planned to shelve once I entered university. 

There was once when I really couldn’t imagine a future outside fashion. My mother once told me that I could always “settle” for being the best-dressed employee wherever I went, but I couldn’t imagine settling for such; I had heady dreams of magazines, runways, and big cities. Growing older has changed me in a myriad of little ways, but my internship, if anything, settled the fact for me that fashion could only be on the back burner throughout a career pursuing other burgeoning interests that seemed more tailored to my personality and skills (or lack thereof). That said, I am thankful for the five months I spent doing everything from manning the counter, to styling photoshoots, to managing social media. It was a crash-course to everything I’d dreamed of (and more), that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

That cramped little office an hour away from my home became the setting where I dealt with much bigger changes that dwelt on my horizon. I filled out university applications in a side room, using my friend’s hot spot when the office’s Wifi was down. I took leave to attend university and scholarship interviews, and told my boss about them when I returned. It was at my office when a very kindly NUS staff member told me over the phone that it was “highly likely” I hadn’t gotten into NUS; and at my office, in that same side room, a few minutes to closing time, when a scholarship officer told me the same, and suggested (kindly, but painfully) to think of other options.

But God has dealt his cards kindly this year.

Even as He gave me things which I hadn’t wished for, He knew –so much more than I did- what I needed. 2014 was the year of God proving me wrong, and 2014 was the year in which I am so glad my life is in His hands. I didn’t get the internship I wanted initially- but I got something totally different, and one I really enjoyed. I didn’t get the A level results I wanted- I got a bit less, but less enough that it made my scholarship and university applications difficult, particularly when I aspired to such competitive fields. I didn’t get the scholarship I wanted- but the one I got (thanks be to God), sent me to a place where I find things to thank Him about every single day. And in those nights alone in hostel, when the single light over my bed made my eyes strain to read my notes, and no amount of music could make me feel any less alone, He taught me to pray.

Where I am today is nowhere I could have envisaged myself being a year ago, let alone twelve. And this is what I remind myself, when sometimes (all the time) I get impatient and demand God to show His hand. “Show me what’s next. Show me where I’m going.” But if He did, would I believe Him? And if He did, would I let Him? The path 2014 took was so unexpected, so difficult, so painful, and yet, I am so thankful for 2014. You taught me a lot.

In 2014, I got my first job, in the field I’d always dreamed of, and learnt why perhaps it wasn't the right field for me.

In 2014, I realized that my personality meant I needed a career giving back to something, a career which meant something to me, a career worth fighting for. I realized that some things are worth fighting for.

In 2014, I realized that comparisons are odious when the path God has planned for you is unique, and tailored to your interests, your inclinations, your passions. I realized that better than wailing and comparing, is sitting up and making a battle plan- and making it through.

In 2014, I realized that friends come from unlikely places. And if you find them, fight to keep them.

Best of all, in 2014, I realized (in the words of a prayer I wrote just before starting university), “…how small I am, not in the face of difficulties or the ‘real world’, but in the palm of God's hand”. He is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Making yearly resolutions doesn’t seem to make much sense- particularly when, as I read in an article a few days ago, every new beginning inspires a re-evaluation of where we’re going next. 2014 was chock-full of new beginnings (perhaps enough for a lifetime), and therefore, necessarily, chock-full of introspective re-evaluations. Looking back on 2014’s wrap-up post, I planned to “not compare myself to the 2%” (struggled, but more or less succeeded); “stop being so harsh on myself” (struggled, still struggling); “stop being so harsh on others” (struggled- urhgihwh); and “to sleep earlier” (hello, law school). I also continued a one- or two-year long tradition of paying tribute to this wine-red asymmetrical skirt which I bought around this time years ago, and promised to wear forever (which I didn’t, but hey, marsala is the colour of 2015! Close enough).

If anything, for 2015, I want to stop making conscious plans insofar as I want to start leaving my plans in God’s hands. “Those who leave everything in God’s hands will eventually see God’s hand in everything”, right? Then again, it would be good if I survived my first law exams (upcoming next semester). Also, if I learnt to procrastinate less, and take better care of my health, and be kinder in my thoughts and in my words. I would like to leave 2015 a better person, having touched people around me for the better, than I was in 2014. 

Now, dare I say- God, go ahead and prove me wrong in all my expectations. You always know better.

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