Dear 2016

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I’m flicking through your photo album now, and, my goodness – what a year you’ve been.

At the beginning of the year, you brought my family together in Hong Kong to celebrate the union of my cousin Alex and his wife Wendy. It was the first time my entire family – all ten of us cousins, our parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents – were in the same room. You started off my year showing me how marvelously close and loving my family is, and I felt such immense gratitude for that.

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After that, it was pretty much all work and limited play as you drove my finals exams closer and my stress levels higher every day. Despite that, you brought me some wonderful people to support me throughout these stressful six months of my life, more notably – my gorgeous group of C1 pals. From going to Edinburgh for a weekend in the name of our interest in psychiatry and skiving hospital to make a lemon meringue pie, to Curry Thursdays and Fishbowl Fridays and helping me get ‘Oslo-fit’. Christ, I don’t even think they realise how special they made my fourth year.

Speaking of people who held me up, another highlight was living with my best girl friend. Words cannot describe how much I’ve enjoyed fourth year having her as my housemate. She has been my pillar of strength as I struggled through 2016. We had some pretty fun times together, too: ‘Schttahhp itttt… Sophie’s not here, babe’ will forever be my go-to one-liner to whip out, and sending a stranger ugly selfies via AirDrop is a new favourite hobby of mine. She also brought a new friend into my life, someone who I wouldn’t have even believed I’d have anything in common with, let alone actually become so close. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the year was that I fricking passed all my exams! If someone had told me back in Malvern that one day, not long from then, I will have sat and passed my exams to qualify as a doctor, I would’ve laughed in their face. But you proved me wrong, 2016; you showed me that through hard work, perseverance, and just a little dash of self-belief, I could achieve whatever it is I set out to do.

One other major highlight that may seem trivial to some people, but 2016, you were the year I got rid of acne! Huzzah! This has been such a long time coming… and Roaccutane was no walk in the park, but I felt myself grow more confident again, and I am so so happy that I don’t feel like I need to hide behind layers and layers of foundation anymore.

Now, if I’m being honest, 2016, you have also been one of my toughest years. I made the decision to move to London for my intercalation, and suddenly, everything you taught me about being able to do anything if I believed in myself seemed to have vanished. A couple other factors contributed to this, but my physical health suffered, and my mental health… Well, my mental health practically disintegrated.

I can look back at those two/three months now, though, and I can honestly say I am thankful. Thankful that I’m feeling better, of course. Thankful that I am slowly re-learning that I am strong enough to overcome that thing. Above all, thankful that you reminded me just how extraordinarily blessed I am to be surrounded by such generous, loving, and supportive family and friends. Somehow I managed to draw the courage to talk about it, properly, for the first time. I finally found strength to say out loud that I was not okay, and that alone has done nothing but wonders for me. I feel a million times closer to my family, as I no longer feel like I’m hiding something from them. I sought professional help, and I am reassured that I can and I will get better. I am also forever thankful for my cousin for coming to visit me at the drop of a hat. That week with her was the most fun I’ve had all semester – a week filled with laughter and deep talks and sweet-talking a fella into gifting us a gigantic gingerbread man toy. #chaifi4dayz 

Now I can’t talk about surviving my semester from Hell without mentioning my two of my best friends who had moved to London to intercalate as well. With all our the foodie adventures, the journal clubs we struggle through, and the pizzas that take two hours to arrive, they have transformed my finding London unbearable to finding London extraordinary. I am thankful, also, for another best friend of mine, even though she’s still in Liverpool, she is always only one text away. Not to mention that we finally got to spend our day in Tokyo together, something we’ve talked about since the day I met her outside Vine Court in first year! And who could forget my exceptionally selfless and caring and beautiful mother, whose spontaneous visit was perhaps the pivotal thing that helped me rise from the ashes.

2016, you also brought us some heart breaking news about the health of a family member this year. It was overwhelmingly difficult watching a part of my family go through this, and I felt incredibly helpless. I am this close to qualifying to be doctor, God damn it, yet all I could do was stand by and watch as I offer nothing but hugs and prayers. You rolled out good news soon enough, and I am beyond relieved. You also ended this saga by marking it with the happiest of all happy news! I pray that this is your sign that the New Year will bring more joy into my family, because – damn, son – enough is enough.

In terms of love, 2016, let’s just say you kinda dropped the ball there. You have brought me make-ups and break-ups and fuck-boys galore. You have also brought me a heart full of love, but then mirrored it with a sack full of heartache. You, my dear, have truly been one heck of an emotional rollercoaster in this department. But still, I hold no grudges; you have shown me the importance of self-love. I have learnt that the relationship I have with myself is the most important one of all, and I intend to spend more time working on that before I trouble myself with anymore irrelevant drama.

Well, my friend, that brings my letter to you to a close. Between your ups, you have also given me my fair share of downs, and I’m going to wrap you up by looking at the possibilities of 2017. Almost everyone will have similar dreams: to travel more, to be more successful, to be happier. I am no exception to that, although I am definitely trying to put an emphasis on the last one. So here is my new years resolution: I want to be kinder to myself, and I want to spend more time looking after myself. Not in the spoiling myself kind of way, but that I need to remember that overworking and overloading stress onto myself is not a sustainable way for me to live.

In a way, 2016, I thank you. Even though the latter half of you has undoubtedly been difficult, I am slowly beginning to accept that maybe change isn’t so scary after all. Through moving to London, I have learnt a lot about myself and my ability to be an adult. I’ve met a lot of fantastic people here, and I had the chance to reconnect with some of my old schoolmates whom I’ve lost touch with, too. With that, I think I’m ready as I’ll ever be to close your chapter, and start afresh to see what 2017 will bring.

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