Why I Need to Reflect
Where did the year go? I’m sure somewhere in the galaxy exists an abyss of floating past memories and mistakes or hardships people want to forget. I didn’t want to reflect on the past year initially, but I defeated my own stubbornness in order to do what I knew was better. There was just a lot happening in my life and in those around me that I love in 2018. It felt like most days last year, I was just struggling to get by and struggling to be who I wanted to be. Now that it’s the end of the year, it seems anticlimactic to think “Hmm, a lot of those things are still on-going.” You can’t just make a resolution and start over when some things in life aren’t in your control.
But I need to do this, for me. I need to remember all the good memories and the bad ones. It’s easy to forget the triumphs and small victories when the year seemed clouded with fiery external trials and immensely tiring internal battles.
I need to hope. Hope right now isn’t some cute word that sounds cool at the end of the year or in prayer to God. It’s a real need for me right now, and without it, I don’t really know how to move forward. So that’s really why. Because I need to hope.
It’s not helpful to look ahead without looking back. We have to analyze and be aware of what has happened, otherwise, our goals and visions for the future may be a bit shallow and foolish. That’s my opinion anyway.
Looking Back in 2018: Themes
Too much happened so I won’t be going over specific events. I think it’s more helpful to point out some pertinent themes and some thoughts around them.
Started new creative projects without giving up (yet). Making youtube videos wasn’t that simple. I had to listen to the intuition in my soul that my desire to share my thoughts and ideas on the interwebs was not stupid, not for attention, and not a phase. I had to listen to the feeling that this is who I am made to be. Making videos is one of the many platforms I can do that on. I am proud of myself for listening to me because often I want to listen to others and ignore those inklings. I make excuses and get caught up in not feeling good enough, unique enough, confident enough, smart enough, whatever the lie may be. I learned that making videos was symbolic, as the beginning of discovering more of who I am and conquering my fears. It was a part of the journey to love myself (which I will talk more about in another bullet point). I started writing poems and short stories with a vision to create awareness about mental health and depression through a personal social media campaign called “Words Unspoken: A Memoir”.
Redefined what friendships (& relationship) looked like. As a type 2w3 in Enneagram (lol, I had to really wrestle to admit what type I was but is that even a surprise for ANYONE AT ALL? Nope) I wanted to be there for my friends but felt too weak to do so. I really learned this year how to let others in on the hardships and how to receive love (might be forever working on it tbh). I learned to not chase after people but to let go, accepting the reality that I can’t keep up with everyone like I used to. I learned to drop expectations and just be present to friends who were also committed to me. I learned to let people be there for me, and adjust to how people wanted me to be there for them. I also continued to play games with friends because the gaming community was also there for me when I needed. Those brothas have no idea, but it really made a difference. In terms of my romantic life- Michael and I adjusted to our long distance relationship and what it looked like to serve and love one another in this time. Because it’s been really hard on my end, I felt needy and missed him a lot more. But apparently, I “need to be more needy”. There were many phone calls during my hour-long drives after work or class, video chats while we brushed our teeth, and many times in person when we only had time for one meal. We unwinded and hung out together often through playing mobile or computer games (our top love language is quality time). Most of all, I learned to not be afraid of being honest. Lol, sounds simple on paper. Similar to friendships, I had to let down the walls and be okay that sometimes, I cry for the entire hour of our phone call. Those usually ended with smiles because he’s a weirdo who knows how to make me laugh, haha.
Made time for adventure. In the busy-ness of life, you really do have to make time for getaways and adventures. Michael and I went snowboarding around my birthday in January last year, and this clutz somehow became good enough to be on the intermediate slope. It was so exhilarating to fall so hard, have a nosebleed, have every muscle ache but accomplish going down that steep slope. Should’ve known it would be symbolic for what was to come for the rest of the year, lol. Now I want to go every year, which is something new. I went to SF 3 times, mostly because of Elaine but one with Sam & Enya (and I finally met Mona the corgi). Did a Vegas trip with friends for the first time (never too old, am I right? jk, the squad had to sleep a lot bc we are old). I went to San Diego with my parents. I did a day trip to Joshua Tree with my friend Paulette. All those small getaways helped me to learn more about myself, to pause and breathe, and to enjoy the present.
Professional development. I should probably take time to be proud of myself for this. I used to be afraid of talking to authority figures and afraid of failure. I still am to some extent. But this year, through my summer internship at Good Samaritan Hospital and the job I got offered to continue working there with the Stroke outreach team, I gained so much more confidence in my skills and professionalism. I still feel like I have a lot to learn but I made some big steps in this area of my life in 2018 despite the personal hardships I was going through. I swallowed the awkwardness and networked, followed-up, and kept in touch with many professionals I met and worked with. Honestly, grad school opened up many doors for me in this way and I put myself out there by being very involved in my department. So yay, good job me. Which reminds me, I survived the hardest classes of grad school early last year.
Benji. My part chihuahua, pug, maybe beagle mutt stray dog. He showed up one night on my driveway, scared but tender and without a chip or collar, when I was coming home from work on July 24th. It was exactly one year after Ara, our last family dog of 10 years, died of cancer. My friends helped me look for owners. All our attempts failed, and there were many hard nights for the rest of that summer from related personal complications that I won’t go into. But as you may know, we eventually compromised and made a way for Benji to stay at home with us and he has been giving us joy every day despite being a complete rascal. We can already see how he is healing from his old wounds, and quite frankly, our family from our own wounds. Being a dog mom is a pretty close step to having your own child imo, so I learned a lot from having to take care of and love Benji. Like canceling plans or working from home to dogsit, buying new pens because he chewed on all of them, going to the dog park often, and introducing him to my friends. Now every year on July 24th, we plan on celebrating it as Benji’s birthday and to remember Ara. I don’t know if you believe in a greater power or fate, but I want to believe all this was very intentional and exactly what my family needed.
*insert obligatory photo hehe*
Looking Ahead to 2019
Goals & Hopes:
- Read/listen to 1-2 books/audiobooks a month (19 is the ideal goal so I can feel cool by the end of 2019) and review them. I started audiobooks last year but didn’t set a goal, so this time I am determined.
- Commit to my own mental health. Find a new therapist no matter how tiring that process is. Then go regularly and be clear with expectations.
- Journal most nights. This helps with the clutter of my mind that prevents me from falling asleep and to keep track of how I am doing.
- Angela H. Cho, MPH, RD. Okay, I might not have time to pass my RD exam but I will hope to finish grad school and pass my MPH comps, then finish my dietetic internship rotations if I get matched to one in the Spring.
- Get back to learning how to budget. Even if I don’t really have much to work with, learn to be faithful with what little I have. The goal is to learn the concept and be aware of my money and spendings.
- Exercise. 3-5 times a week. For mental health, physical health, and self-esteem.
- Spiritual health. I know what it will take to invest into my spiritual wellness, so come on, do them. Don’t run away.
- Continue with the projects I started.
- Continue to let people in.
- Maintain friendships, the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up for this.
- Commit to loving yourself. Yes, this sounds like a shameless BTS plug but it’s an essential theme and truth in my life lol.