2015 · 2015/10 · Vignette

The Night before the Last

Tomorrow is my last day in this city that I moved to with high hopes and great dreams a little over a year ago, ready to re-invent myself. Full of plans and an over-achiever’s to-do list, I set off to make the best of my new freedom, the chance to carve a new life, a new identity, a new me.

It didn’t quite turn out as I was planning.

In and of itself, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I was hopeful and eager, but I wasn’t quite ready to implement some changes that I wanted, to see through plans that were unrealistic.

As I am readying to move yet again, my life in bags and boxes awaiting my lift tomorrow, I am amazed how age 25, I could fit my life into a tiny room. I had plans, I had hopes of one day owning my own place, and yet here I was, renting a room for year 6 now. And yet again I am moving to a room, paying into someone’s pocket while my purse continues to flex hopelessly.

But this is not supposed to be a mopy post, on the contrary. I set off to reflect on my year and a bit in this place, and hopefully realise just what went right, because it’s often too easy to focus on the negatives.

Following the helpful reflection prompts of Craig Jarrow, aka Time Management Ninja, here is my review of 2014/15.


1. Where did you succeed? – What are you most proud of from your achievements in the past year? What were your wins? Celebrating even the small wins is important. Remember the times you were on top of your game.

I got a distinction on my master’s degree, while holding down, and making some progress, in a highly stressful, emotive, high-pressure job, working shifts amounting to on average 170-190 hours per month. I paid for the course out of my own pocket, and I managed to pay off all my credit months before the course ended, then saved up a little as well. If that’s not something to be proud of, I’m not sure what is.


2. What did you enjoy most? – Are you passionate about your work? Your relationships? Make sure you are enjoying the journey today. It’s important to enjoy yourself each and every day. If not, maybe it is time for a change in job, career, or relationship.

Hah. Guess “I am moving tomorrow!!” answers this questions in a way… I moved to pursue a post-grad course I was really enthusiastic about, but alas, the city in which the course is offered is a total tip, the embodiment of everything I do not want in a city that I would call home. Hence why my bags are packed and I am off.

Thinking about what I enjoyed though… I enjoyed the challenge of pursuing my studies, the topics I read on, the assignments, at least most of them, that I carved to reflect my own budding academic interests.

I enjoyed learning about mental health care and community care as part of my new job, seeing the ins and outs, the many pathways and milliards of professionals working around the same person to somehow help them live a better life. I enjoyed meeting the people I supported and the people I worked with, all the different characters and life histories, reasons and motivations, dreams and tragedies. I feel privileged and humbled that I got to know some of them so intimately, while being unable (sometimes unwilling) to share anything personal in return. Once someone is put in care, there’s no such thing as privacy, not really. There are always people seeing them, sharing their space, telling them things they might not want to hear, and while I was totally grained by all the stubbornness of some of these people, I can also see how they were clinging to shadows of their dignity and choice when they shouted at me for putting their shoes two inches too far to the left. 

I enjoyed getting to see a part of the country that I previously haven’t really visited or experienced, and in-between deadlines and work, I had the chance to visit some lovely places. 


3. Where did you fail? – Looking at your own failures can be tough, but it is a necessary exercise. If you want to move forward, you must be honest about where you were not successful. Maybe it was something that you didn’t give your all, or perhaps something you said you were going to do, but didn’t.

I piled too much on my plate, and as a result, I was often unable to see how I was trying too hard, pushing myself without any self nurturing. Sure, I got what I wanted, a good degree and a job to pay the bills. But I also gained some pre-mature grey hairs, quite a few in fact. I became more recluse, if possible, and didn’t make any acquaintances outside of work, not even at university really, not to mention meaningful relationships, bar a few platonics. My plan to focus on myself and find myself failed miserably before it even started. I didn’t join the gym, I didn’t cycle to work, I didn’t complete P90X, and I didn’t finish any of the monthly work-out calendars of the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. I didn’t go to the theatre, not once, and I only visited the university library to print and finish up last minute papers when I knew I would lack the motivation to do it at home. 


4. What regrets do you have? – What opportunity did you pass up? Where do you wish you had spent more time doing? These questions can be painful to answer, but they can help you remedy them in the future.

I regret the missed opportunity to ‘re-invent’ myself, as I was in a new city, away from anyone I ever knew, effectively starting as a blank slate. I could say that maybe I don’t need to ‘re-invent’ myself, that I am fine as I am… But I know I am not entirely happy the way I am, so who am I kidding. Some soul-searching a personal development were due, and I am not sure I entirely lived up to them.

I regret not pursuing more relationships, or nurturing the ones I did establish. I am not good at friend-making, and the ones I did make, I could have spend more time, made some effort with. 

I regret not starting to job hunt sooner, always telling myself that I had time, that I had enough to worry about and focus on. While it was true that I was always busier than I really wanted to be, I could have found the time to apply to a job every fortnight if I wished. I also regret making hasty decisions, applying to companies I was interested in, but to the wrong positions, thus never quite making it, and burning bridges, as I am not comfortable applying to the same place twice. 


5. What lessons did you learn? – You should always be learning. What lessons did life teach you in the past year? Understanding them will help you grow and be ready for similar situations in the future.

It’s okay to take some time out.

Nobody can make me miserable without my consent.

Sleeping can only be put off for so long.

Flirting with a deadline will not pay off in the long term.

Effort and commitment do pay off in the long term.

Not everybody will like me, but that’s okay – I don’t like everybody either.

If I want something, I can and should go for it – nobody else will.


6. What will you do differently? The one thing you can control is yourself. What will you do differently in the coming year? Don’t blame others for your behavior. Your attitude is a choice, make sure you choose a good one.

I would like to set some personal priorities, ones I will take as seriously as any deadline or duties. I need to make sure that I remember how I need to make the most of every day, as they will never come back, and I don’t want to live with regrets over things I could have done better, if only I tried, if only I stopped.


7. What is the status of your goals? – Where do your goals stand? Did you reach them? Review each of your large goals and determine their status. Maybe you need to spend more effort on them, or even change them entirely.

I reached my main goal, to graduate with distinction. I also managed to reach my second biggest goal, to graduate with no outstanding monies or debt. 

The things I discussed under question 3, the areas where I feel like I failed, could be counted as goals that I failed to accomplish, so a re-evaluation might be due.


8. What do you need to do more of? – What do you need to spend more time doing? What activities and goals are not getting enough of your time? Maybe it’s spending time with family. Or leaving the office on time each day. Or maybe it is simply being more organized.

I need to be more organised, that’s for sure. My room has looked like my wardrobe threw up on my textbooks over my desk, floor, chair, and bed, depending on my state of cannot-be-bothered. 

I should spend more time skype-ing with my family, as I know they miss me, and care at some level, even if I have a hard time getting myself to hit call at times due to some childish hang-ups.

I could really do with some more time spent self-nurturing, like sleeping more than 4 hours on average, and getting a haircut more than twice a year. As a commitment to self-discovery, I am planning to keep up this blog and write anything I fancy, with no expectations or pressure to perform.

I am also going to try and make realistic goals that I can actually work on, because I am kind of tired of setting idealistic goals that I can never even come close to.


9. What do you need to stop doing? – What do you need to stop doing in the new year? Maybe you have a bad habit (or two). Try replacing negative behaviors with new positive ones.

I need to stop being afraid to voice my opinion, to speak up, to contradict, to point out, to contrast. 

I need to stop worrying over imagined things, fearing others’ opinions while also being scared that they simply don’t give a shit. It’s unrealistic and clearly contradictory, so I am setting myself up to failure, which needs to stop, asap. 

I need to try and stop letting past hurts get in my way, as it is simply unrealistic and unnecessary to avoid a place just because I might bump into someone. 


10. What are your new goals for the new year? – Reviewing and revising your goals is an important exercise. Your new goals may be entirely new, or they may be modifications of existing ones. Your goals should be adaptable and you should always be course-correcting to stay on target to success.

Go with the flow without over-stressing too much.

Get a job that I feel could be my career / funded PhD that I am passionate about within the next few months. 

Spend time getting to know and developing myself.

Enjoy being 25. It won’t happen again.

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