Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.
I think there will never be a year as significant and life-changing as the year 2013.
Early this year, I decided to apply for a job overseas without any thoughts of getting through at all. When I got the offer, I didn’t know what to think, so accepting it was easy. But no one told me that the process to uproot one’s self was going to be that difficult and exhausting – both physically and emotionally.
I must confess, the person I know I am was never an emotional person. I would never let myself get close enough to grow sentimental towards things or people because I know for a fact that things fade and people leave. I guess it’s just my defense mechanism to avoid getting myself hurt. But for the first time in my life, I have never felt so vulnerable, and I was completely swept by my own emotions with no pillar or handle to hold onto. The 6 months spent waiting for the final departure gave me space to think, reflect, understand and really take the time to clear the clutter up in my life.
I experienced a whole range of emotions on many different levels. I feared. I worried. I cried. Then, I was taken by a strange calm. I was excited. I laughed. I anticipated. I hoped. I was needy. I was strong. I was weak.
I contemplated over the things I will lose here. I questioned my ability to hold onto the things I hold dear to my heart while I’m far away from home. I imagined the potential future I might have had if I had chosen to stay here instead. I was missing people even before they were gone. I wanted to be able to say thank you to the people I love and was saying them in my own awkward ways and wondered if my feelings were received properly. There was also someone whom I started feeling something for this year, so was it a sign, I wonder, that I got the offer as soon as I knew how I felt towards that person?
I packed my stuff up into boxes, along with my feelings knowing full well how this will all end. This is what you’ve decided on, and you have no choice but to prepare to live with all the consequences be it good or bad, I told myself. I hardened my heart, welded it and moulded it into steel. And then, I left.
It didn’t sink at first, but when the boxes came and I started unpacking them one by one, it hit me hard that this was going to be a place I will be living in for a long while. Maybe all that emotional jazz and deep reflections I had in those 6 months paid off. I surprised myself at the speed at which I settled down and adapted to the place.
But mainly, I owe it to the people I’ve met here. I was blessed with being surrounded by good people – building that social support system was especially important to me based on past experience, and the people here have given me so much warmth and support that I can ever ask for. And even from miles across the sea, I’ve received so much love and support from my close friends – I don’t even think I deserve all this kindness after making a selfish decision to leave. I don’t come from a background with faith, but at every moment thus far, I feel like there is someone watching closely over me and I just feel really thankful, every single day.
Of course, the journey hasn’t been entirely smooth. I’ve been homesick to the point where I cannot sleep at night. There are times I want to drop everything I have and come back home after receiving messages from friends because I was too homesick. I couldn’t tell anybody how I feel and quite frankly, no one can really help make it better even if I did.
During times when it gets too hard, I find that writing my thoughts out, drawing and soaking myself in a tub of warm water helps make it better, even if it’s just for a little while. And sometimes, I let myself cry it out. If anything, it always gets better. Or at least that’s what I try to tell myself every time I am alone.
The other people who came with me, we all have our own ways to cope. And there are subtle muted moments when you can just tell when someone is having a hard time among us. Listening to others and knowing their own versions of pain eases the loneliness a little.
Without the clutter in my life, I’m seeing experiencing life in a new perspective. I’m learning something about myself everyday and I’m trying to improve a little daily. I try to reach out to my close friends through messages from time to time, and I’m learning to love and express myself better in my own way. I’m learning to be vulnerable. Truth be told, I feel apologetic to my friends and family sometimes to the point where I feel ashamed, because I can’t communicate my feelings well even though I’ve received so much from them. So I’ve made that my 2014 resolution to say thank you more often, to learn to give back in baby steps. I was trying and I’ll never stop trying.
More than a year ago before I knew how my life was going to change, a close friend of mine shared this quote with me. I never thought much about it then, but this quote now holds a whole new meaning for me.
With everything that I’ve experienced so far, it doesn’t matter even if love fails, or whether my career is stalling or whatever else people would consider to be indicators of success in life. The things I’ve learned, the lessons I’ve gained in this past year, the way I’m learning how to be alone and strong on my own now, I am appreciating life as it is now. I am happy.
So thank you, 2013 – For showing me how to move forward. For teaching me how to love and be thankful for the things I have. For giving me that chance to clear the clutter in my life. For allowing me to see clearly where to put my focus on, and who are the ones who truly matter in my life.
Most importantly, thank you, 2013, for breathing life into me again. Now I’m putting you behind me and will be looking straight ahead into 2014.
2014, I hope you continue to treat me well.