Trying to look at the good sides and laugh... 2017 rewind

31 December 2017

What better day to look back at your year than the midnight of Christmas Eve? The night is peaceful at 3 a.m., I'm scribbling my random thoughts, good and bad moments of the year on my notebook. Some of these notes are funny and stupid, some sound smart, some are shitty, and some should never be seen by anyone else.

I do this every year to recap what I have, or have not accomplished, what I'd done, and what I wish that I'd done differently. And then I try to reflect on them and plan for the new year. If you've never tried this before, I suggest that you get a piece of paper and pen, and doodle whatever comes to your mind about 2017. You'll be amazed by your own stories. This exercise is useful because it tells you so much about yourself. I can't describe my emotions now. I'm feeling entertained, surprised, regretful, sorry, happy,  and funny. 

Then I decide to distill my pages of notes into something useful and shareable.

Three things I've learned in 2017:

1. Know your money.

I think you don't grow up until the defining moment when you smack your forehead after looking at your bank accounts. I was (and still am) financially illiterate, so when terms like "loans", "savings", "bills" hit me like a tsunami this year, I felt more motivated than ever to look at the numbers and understand them. My income as a grad student was indeed minimal, but honestly the main problem was because I didn't make wise decisions for my finances.

If I were to do ONE thing differently since the beginning of 2017, it'd be to educate myself more about money.  I'm starting slow by reading more about the topic now.

2. You need to clean your own mess.

Sometimes you get into troubles where nobody can help you except yourself. This might happen to your career, family, finance, or relationship. I think I wasn't mature enough realize that I have to take full responsibility for every choice I make. Every single decision you make will come back to you. So make your decision wisely.

3. Are you really suffering? In your imagination or reality?

I made a full list of my current problems, what might be the worst scenario and what I could do to minimize the consequence. The results were shocking. I see that I have the tendency to overthink, over-worry and over-commit. I worry all the time about scenarios that will not happen. (Reference: Tim Ferriss' TED talk).

Taking my financial problem as an example, I was worried that my scholarship would be delayed and I might need to work as a tuition teacher, a job that I really dreaded. I was thinking all these problems with students, my time management, tedious preparation, expectations and transport. Once I listed down all these problems on paper, I was able to analyze them and come up with better ideas to solve the problems.


While these points may seem blandly obvious to the clever people, it took me nearly three decades to see what I had done wrong. I guess a good lesson is better late than never.

Okay, enough of the grandmother's story. Since everybody only shares his or her best moments on the internet, here are some of my best moments this year:

Stuck in the toilet because the lock was broken. Luckily I was agile enough to magically climb up and move to another cubicle. Although I wish you never have to go through this physical challenge, I think we should all be prepared for unexpected circumstances because you just never know. I can' stop laughing hahahaha. Documentation by Poh Kheng.
Midnight picnic on the grass in Dataran Merdeka to celebrate Yiing Yee's birthday. Not fancy but very romantic and memorable.
Completed several projects with this guy. I don't know how we managed to do those things despite our crazy schedule. By the way, Avoon is single and he can bake delicious cakes.
Worked with a new group of people for Heartbiz, a platform which promotes virtuous businesses. It's an eye-opening experience. Photo by Kuar Photography.
Foster relationship that's worth my time, especially my family.

You cannot make everyone happy. Care less and relax.

Kluang Railway Station. Didn't know that Fred is good in taking my photos. One brownie point for him.

I'm Einstein's little experiment. This was in a 3D art museum in Langkawi. Rethinking the purpose of doing research and pursuing scientific knowledge, and my career path.

Tried to look into the beauty of full concentration and artistry in science. This was a corner of my friend's geology laboratory.

It says "The real perfection includes accepting your own weakness and dark side." Learned to accept that perfection will never exist. And, the process is the result.

A huge rain tree in Melaka. Got healed from a really desolate relationship, but I know I had to go through it to learn and break some of my die-hard insecurities.

Started to think that bathing and cleaning my grandma's diaper are easy-peasy. She has Alzheimer's disease and couldn't remember anything or take care of herself.

Learned a lot of unexpected new skills, such as playing with a glass prism to create rainbow and selling them on e-commerce.

MRT started its operation. This was taken at the station right at my housing area. The world is changing, am I?

Sekeping Jugra. Later that day I jumped into the pool to chill after a few glasses of wine. Photo by Qiu Ying.

7 a.m. in Putrajaya, just magical. Photo by Fred.

Chilled at The Andaman Resort in Langkawi. That was probably the most relaxed moment I had in the entire year. Photo by Fred.

Seeing your old friends unlocking a milestone is a strange feeling. You keep wondering "Where did the time go?" "What have I done?" and feeling ecstatic for them at the same time.

Good friends, good times, good food and wine. And a film camera. No extra word needed. Photo by Pei Han.

Witnessed my childhood best friend's wedding. Seriously I did not realize I am not young anymore until that exact moment when she said "I do".

Work in an environment that expands my horizons and trains me in so many ways. Photo by Kok Keong.

Probably one of my favourite shots of the year. There is no need for excessive display of intimacy in one photo to show the bond between two human beings. Photo by me.

Learning new skills is a must. You might need it one day. 

Always look at the good side of things with a pinch of humour. Being angry and revengeful will not solve any problem, ever.

Drinking white wine at the Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore. This seems to be extremely romantic, but the truth is I'd been hiding inside a hotel room writing all day for a deadline, pulling my hair, and feeling overwhelmed. Everyone is struggling a struggle you have no idea about, there is no need to compare. This realization, I think, is the most important one I had this year.

All in all, my year was incredibly busy and amazing. It wasn't easy at all, but it was a year of growth and incredible memories.

I am always curious who actually read this blog. I want to say thank you for dropping by, and I hope you continue to learn, grow, and have a fruitful year ahead.

With my very best wishes,

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