At last. At long last. We have reached the end of 2016.
A lot of things happened this year and as far as years ago, this year hasn’t been the best of years for me. There was a lot of grief, plenty of days spent under the looming cloud of depression, and uncountable times of getting sick. Needless to say, I spent the greater part of 2016 in survival mode: gritting my teeth, putting one foot in front of the other and just trying to make it through a day. But there were also some really awesome moments and I met a lot of amazing people while traveling to some really cool places this year.
Here’s a recap of what went on in my life this year.
Places I visited
- Semarang, Indonesia – I don’t know whether it’s because a lot of my ancestors came from this place or something, but most of the good things that happened this year happened in Semarang. I found a cafe filled with people that made me feel like I was home, met a super awesome artist in Semarang’s night market, had a lot of good food, and fitted in so well there that the airport staff thought I’ve spent my entire life there. I found nothing but good vibes in Semarang and am keen to go back there.
- Yogyakarta, Indonesia – As always, going to Yogyakarta felt like coming home for me. This year, I met a rickshaw driver/author, a man who literally knew everyone in the city, some badass female porters, saw the incredible Ramayana show, and was introduced to my great grandmother’s life as a Javanese woman in the royal family. The city also became my escapade when things didn’t go so well in Solo.
- Solo, Indonesia – You may have noticed that I didn’t talk about Solo at all in 2016, but I did visit the city. Thing is, I didn’t even stay more than 6 hours in there. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but there was something making me feel so unsafe in the city and I left it, following my gut instinct. The only place I visited in Solo was its cathedral and that visit ended up with me reaching my mental breaking point and crying in the middle of mass. I may come back to Solo someday to give the city another try though.
- Bandung, Indonesia – I visited Bandung twice this year and they were all trips with my friends. The first trip was my first after my knee surgery and taught me a lot in being spontaneous while in the second one, I fired some air-soft guns and visited a genius tourist attraction business idea. I also made a lot of wrong decisions in Bandung, one of which led me to a loss of almost IDR700.000 and my own confidence in my travel decisions. Also, on both of my visits to Bandung, I was engulfed in anxiety so I guess I won’t be heading back there anytime soon until I figure out why.
- Kedah, Malaysia – I joined my first international student conference in Kedah and needless to say, it was the best thing that happened to me this year. I’ve never felt so accepted for who I am and how I view the world than during those couple of days and let’s just say it won’t be my last international event. Because of the conference, though, I didn’t see a lot of Kedah except for a Malay restaurant and the beach where we planted mangroves.
- Penang, Malaysia – Oh, Penang. I only spent 24 hours there and immediately fell in love with the island. Everything about Penang is constantly contradicting each other in the most beautiful way and I want more of those contradictions.
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – I just got back from this trip and as interesting as it was, it turned out to be one my worst trips because my body just gave up on me there and fatigue kept me pent up in my hotel room for a night when I could be out exploring. But I also fell in love with its public transport system and information abundance. Be on the lookout next year because posts about KL will be heading your way.
- Singapore – I went to Singapore after Kuala Lumpur and my one word for the city is “dispassionate.” But my stay in Singapore was also quite interesting because I stayed in its red-light district and yes, I came across a lot of sex workers. And also yes, posts about Singapore will also be released in 2017.
- Batam, Indonesia – I ended the year in Indonesia’s resorts island of Batam where – after some exhausting days in KL and Singapore – my family and I decided to just stay in the resort. I won’t write much about it because I didn’t even take any notes about Batam. But I had some great quality time with my family there from laying off of writing and I have no regrets about that.
- Received a blessing from the Ambassador of Vatican City – My birthday this year was actually on Easter Vigil so instead of blowing out candles on a cake, I blew out candles to renew my Catholic baptismal vows. I ended up the day receiving a packet of snacks from strangers in church and a blessing from the ambassador of Vatican City who led the mass. That was pretty awesome.
- Released my first guidebook and got paid for it. – This was tough to put together and when I got an email that it’s out there, I cried.
- Started working my first corporate job. – Mary Salim as an office worker, who would have known right? But it’s been some very interesting couple of months so far and getting to treat my family out to dinner with the money I worked my butt off for was an amazing feeling. It’s been a learning curve, working in an office, but quite worthwhile so far.
- Went to two F1 circuits and raced in an FIA-CIK track – I’ll talk more about this in 2017 but these have always been two of my big dreams in life and ticking them off happened in unexpected circumstances. Let’s just say I got emotional and cried in a taxi after going to my first F1 circuit.
- Presented my paper at an international conference. – This was an absolute highlight of my year because I was so doubtful of my own ideas that I thought of quitting a bunch of times while constructing that paper. But then I got to the conference and shared it and got the most positive reception I could ever wish for. That paper and presentation led to a lot of new people becoming my friends and connections and I thank God for not letting me quit before I got there.
- Led three different teams to complete three different projects at nearly the same time. – I don’t know how the hell I survived the first half of 2016 because it was project after project and team after team, but I somehow did it and all the projects I was trusted to lead were actually completed. Just surviving that already felt like a huge blessing for me.
- Personal losses. – This year, I lost my uncle and a friend from junior high school and I don’t think I’ve quite recovered from the grief just yet. The thing about grief is that it doesn’t just hit you once, oh no. It hits you over and over again, thrashes you around and kicks you when you’re trying to get back up. And what I’ve learned is that the world doesn’t stop for you to heal when you’re grieving. Frankly, you just have to grit your teeth and pull yourself through each minute of flashbacks and pain and keep on doing what you do – I guess that’s how it went for me.
- Mental struggles. – Maybe this was a side effect of grief. Maybe this was the effect of never stopping for anything and working myself too hard. Maybe years of focusing on achievements and competition finally took its toll on me mentally. I’m not sure if it was one of these or a combination of them all, but throughout 2016, I was struggling with some sort of depression like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Everything just became uninteresting for me, I couldn’t find happiness in doing things I’m supposed to love, I constantly felt like I wasn’t doing enough but dreaded failure so much that I didn’t want to stop working until 2 AM on some days. Some days are still worse than others for me and as much as I really want to go into detail about it, I can’t find it in me to sit down and write about those low moments just yet.
- Being sick more times than I could count. – Okay, my body essentially gave up on me this year because even though I kept on working out and changed my lifestyle to include healthier meals, I was sick most of the year. Alright, maybe most of the nights in 2016 included less than 6 hours of sleep, but the nights on holiday when I slept 10 to 12 hours must make up for them right? Apparently not. The worst part was that I got sick while traveling this year which has never happened before and took some medicine the wrong way which made me even sicker.
Lessons learned in 2016
So, 2016, you were a learning curve for me.
If there’s one thing this year’s events have taught me, it is to be strong and resilient in spite of changes and tough times. A lot of good things happened in 2016, but they were somewhat overshadowed by the bad things for me because though the negative parts were few, they impacted me deeply. But then again, it’s not about how life knocks you down (over and over again sometimes), but how you get back up and throw more punches at it. And as tough as 2016 was for me, I’m grateful that God gave me plenty of strength just to get through the year.
2016 taught me a lot on life and what it means to truly live fully because you never know when it’s your time. All you can do is honestly live fully, be present in moments given to you, and not take those around you for granted. Also, just because you lost someone that doesn’t mean your life should be over too. As harsh as it sounds, this is the one sentence that kept me going on the really bad days. You should keep living and my gosh, live every moment 100%.
2016 also taught me to be unapologetic of not fulfilling others’ expectations of me. I think it’s so easy for us to be bogged down by what others want us to be that we forget that we need to know who we want to be as well. In 2016, I felt like I let a lot of people down, but at the same time I found a lot of moments when I felt relieved that I did that for my own personal well-beingAs crazy as 2016 was, I left it feeling more honest with myself and more at ease at being genuinely who I am with people and I’m grateful for that.
Most importantly, 2016 gave me lessons on success: that it’s no use comparing our success with that of other people because everyone’s on different paths to their success. What can lead you to your success may be different from what will lead me to mine and that’s perfectly okay. We just have to keep following our passion and do what we love because success will come with it.
I want to end the year by thanking you, yes you reading this post right now. Thank you for dropping by and being a part of my 2016 because this blog has opened so many doors for me that I never imagined could be opened before. Thank you for whatever you have to say about how I write because hey, it makes me improve. Thank you for sticking by this year through the highs and lows. Thank you for being part of my journey this year. I sincerely wish you the best 2017 possible.
And 2017 will be the year of healing and improving for me. It’s time to move forward, take necessary breaks, and move away from the toxic people. I have plans for the year to be the time of taking chances and doing new stuff and I hope that I can actually accomplish them (vlogging perhaps? another blog?)
Cheers to a super awesome year of growth in 2017!