“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
It’s the dawn of a new year and I’m still very much alive, and happy to be so.
My blogging frequency hasn’t changed much – I cite Instagram as a primary cause of the tardiness and a full, hectic schedule as the secondary one – but I’m pretty optimistic about keeping this little baby of a blog alive too, for this blog has linked me up with so many beautiful souls the world over, and I hope it continues to do so.
2014 was an incredible year and I give great thanks to the One who has made it happen and to all the people who have pulled me through. I’m a keen believer of new beginnings, second chances and leaps of faith – all of which do not necessarily have to begin only with a new year – but let’s face it: the new year is always a good time to stop, take a breather, and give thanks to all that has happened in the past 365 days.
Some of my best and worst memories were created in 2014. I started it in a very dark place: I was alone in a quiet villa in eastern Bali, tired of battling my inner demons and quite ready to call it quits. It was a place and state of mind I wish to never return to. A year through, I am in a much healthier place, albeit still with a few demons lingering around. I’ve finally graduated from NUS, spent a magical month in Mauritius, started several wonderful personal projects with my favourite people, was offered many amazing opportunities for TheTudungTraveller.com, completed my teacher training, and travelled to a fair number of places in multiple continents. I’ve also gotten my heart broken/broke a few hearts along the way.
I know I’m not the only one who has gone on a personal crusade. To each and every soul who have struggled through their own journey of growth and have done the best they can at every single turn: You are enough. We are all works-in-progress, so take heart in our humanity. ❤
Dear 1-January-2014 self,
I know you are terrified. Of yourself, of the future and of going back home. You’re not quite sure what is the best thing to do now that the new year has arrived and you’ve just spent the eve alone, desperately calming down panic attacks triggered by the booms of fireworks outside.
Do what your heart is telling you to do: Get up, wash up, and take your breakfast by the beach. You don’t have to figure out everything all at once – that is not your battle to fight today.
I’m here to tell you this: Whatever happens, know that you are going to be alright.
2014 is going to be an incredible year for you, no matter how hard it is to believe at this moment. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, but here’s 7 lessons you will learn throughout 2014, so have a little faith.
1) You are human and your feelings are yours to embrace. Do not run away from it.
Your feelings are valid. Whenever you’re feeling scared, hurt, happy, nervous, loved – whatever – know that you’re in the position to feel it. You do not need to justify your feelings. You do not need to justify it to yourself, much less to anyone else. The more you deny a feeling, the more power you give it. Feel it, embrace it, then let the moment go. Your feelings have much to teach you about what you value in your life so let it speak.
2) Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
Seeking help when you cannot handle things alone takes way more than you can give credit for. Having the strength to put aside your ego and to admit that you’re going to need someone else to guide and support you along the way is an endeavour that you shall pursue doggedly for much of the first half of the year. You’ll be going for therapies (they’re not as scary as you think) and you’re going to face many of your demons head-on, both under the guidance of trained professionals and on your own – this will be one of the greatest gifts you will give yourself this year.
3) You are not the circumstances you find yourself in; you are how you react within those circumstances.
You’re going to find yourself in some pretty interesting situations this year, both positive and negative. There are going to be times when your dignity and reputation will be placed at stake, and you will question your abilities and relationships. During these moments, keep your calm. Know that your reactions are crucial, and in no way do these events and incidents define you as a person. React with love, compassion and kindness – to others and to your own self. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Taking two steps forward and then one step back is still progress made. Keep doing the best that you can in any single moment, and that will be enough.
4) Soulmates come in many forms – learn to recognise them.
You will not be alone on your journey. God is going to put so many beautiful souls in your path – souls who are going to sing the same tune as yours and who will embrace you wholeheartedly. Never underestimate their importance in your life. They are the ones who are going to guide you, cheer you on, and walk the path with you. They will fill you up with love and joy, who will tell you in the face when you’re doing something wrong and who will inspire you to do many things in so many ways. Recognise them, appreciate them, and tell them how much they mean to you. Some aren’t going to stay for long – just for as long as they are meant to – but their impact will be felt for as long as you remember them.
5) Opportunities to do good are aplenty – seize them. If not, create them.
Always make time to do what makes you happy, and while you’re at it, recognise that much can be done with it. When someone offers you the chance to do something good, grab it. There are many people out there who are teeming with as much, if not more, energy and passion to do the same thing as you, so look for them, team up and do something about it. Get off your butt, don’t just rest on your laurels, and do meaningful things – this will fill you up and keep you sane through some of your toughest times. It will also open pathways for you to do many other things, including welcoming many beautiful souls into your life and being blessed by their love. Take chances, make your leaps of faith and know that even if you don’t really know where you’re heading in life, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.
6) Hearts are going to be broken, but nobody’s evil for breaking hearts.
You’re going to let some men in, perhaps fall for them a little bit, but will then be forced to admit that it’s not going to work out for a number of reasons. You’ll realise that even good people break hearts, and that sometimes walking away is the best decision for two people. You’ll learn that matters of the heart is never is a black-or-white affair, and that you are capable of, and will, break some hearts along the way too. What is necessary has to be done but always remember to act with kindness (or as much kindness the situation allows to muster) and be the better person. Every person you meet is an answer to your prayers, so be gracious. Wish well of everyone involved – we’re all fighting our personal battles and only want the best for ourselves.
7) You don’t have to have it all figured out.
You’re still going to be grappling with issues of the heart by year-end but it’s okay. You’re going to make lots of progress – with the biggest one finally forgiving yourself and learning to love yourself first – so take heart in that. Light will finally be shed upon your toxic choices and weaknesses, hence subsequently you’ll get to take active steps to correct it. You’ll still drive yourself slightly mad with frustration over things you don’t have control over and questions you don’t have answers to, but learn to take each day at a time and be patient. Beautiful things take time to happen and sometimes (or most of the time) men are just plain hard to understand. Do your best, then let go and let God do the rest. You’re in good hands, so have a little faith.
I’m glad to tell you that you’ll be spending the last hours of 2014 with your loved one, doing mundane things like letting each other fall asleep on the sofa while the tv is on, and munching on air-fried snacks. You’re going to be awake when the countdown starts and the fireworks goes off, and you’re going to enjoy the show on tv. You’re not going to be alone again.
So keep your chin up and head high. Moments don’t last forever, so appreciate the good and learn from the painful. Tell people what they mean to you, and don’t worry if they don’t return the act. You may not have another chance.
2014 is going to be an incredible year for you, so grab it by the lapels and kick some ass.
I’m excited for you.
With lots of love and warm hugs,
Your 1-Jan-2015 Self.