Every year around my birthday and Thanksgiving, I like to write a piece reflecting on all that transpired that year, how I’ve grown, and what I’d like to accomplish the following year. I missed that window in 2018, so here I am trying to collect my thoughts on New Year’s Day.
Normally, I would be beating myself up over it. I tend to set certain standards of productivity and achievement for myself, and get bitterly upset when I fail to meet them. I am learning to lighten up, though. Nobody else cares if I share a summary of my year on December 31 or January 1. I used to be so inordinately preoccupied with making all these pieces and processes of my life—even mundane ones like cooking or laundry—come together in a prompt, seamless series. Well, I still love that feeling when things are timed well, but I am finally realizing the stress to make that happen isn’t always worth it.
I am also coming to accept that sometimes people suffer even when they have done everything possible or right. I think there’s this Asian, or at least Chinese, mentality that bad things only happen to those who don’t try hard enough. When you grow up with this constant messaging, you feel the need to be “on” all the time. You might be less empathetic toward others. Failure, accidents, and traumatic events feel so much more frightening and disorienting because they aren’t “supposed” to happen to you. In hindsight, sure, there is always something you could have done differently or better. However, often other people (or nature, or physics, or something else totally out of our control) are just shitty and there is nothing you can do about that. You could be walking down the street, minding your own business and not doing anything flashy, and get mugged. Or you could be posting your little essays on a personal blog, when a creepy fan comes along and compels you to give up the site you’ve had for years and move to a new one so he can’t follow your stuff anymore.
Not everything can be fair, even if you fight really hard to make it so. Sometimes the fight can make it worse.
But if getting mugged and having to get a new blog were the worst things to happen to me in 2018, I consider myself very fortunate. Overall, I had a lot of positive experiences. I have been flourishing at the job I started in December 2017, meeting great people and working on interesting, gratifying projects. I performed at Carnegie Hall and had a poem published in an independent magazine. I got married to someone who makes me happier than I would have ever imagined possible. We traveled to Iceland, Hawaii, Catalina Island, and Chicago. We celebrated friends’ weddings, birthdays, and successes. We tried our hand at playing the theremin, writing a short screenplay, blowing glass, and cooking many recipes. And now we are expecting a baby in just a few weeks.
Going forward, I’d like to pick up writing more frequently again. Everyone says I will have no time for anything except the baby, but who knows?—perhaps it will actually give me more inspiration. Part of me didn’t want to do it anymore because of the aforementioned creepy fan, but my soul starts to feel empty when I go too long without writing. I’d also like to be a better listener and friend, which is basically what I say every year but nonetheless always holds true. I don’t want to be one of those parents who only talk about parenting. I love hearing about what others are doing with their lives, and supporting however I can.
Hope everyone else had a great 2018 and has an even better 2019!