New Year, Same Me (who is still trying to be better)

We said goodbye to 2016 nine days ago.

My 2016 was a hectic one, to say the least. After my internship year in 2015, I thought I would finally get some time for myself as I’d have more free time.

I was optimistic.

Yes I did have more time in my hands (evidenced by all the TV series I finished in Netflix), but I felt even more tired, and even more drained. 2016 was the first year that I was officially not a student anymore, after possibly more than 20 years of my life!

20 years of being a student!

Well, I am not discounting the possibility of me going into PhD…

Anyway, I only had that realization at work today. Today was my first day back at work. I read an article recently from the New York Times that said that people who had aged really well (i.e. had brains like healthy 20 year olds), were those who never stopped learning or working hard. At first I thought, that was me, I loved learning, so I shouldn’t be concerned.

But then I thought, was I really still learning? Or had I just mastered the art of studying? I had been a student for 20 plus years… even if the material I was trying to learn became more complex, the actual method of studying and learning the new material may have already been easy for me because well, I’ve been doing it for such a long time. And I aced it every time.

This may explain why I was feeling lost last year. After graduating, I didn’t know who I was. The Working Girl Me was foreign. At times, painful. I discovered I had very little personal hobbies (does Netflix count as a hobby?). And trying on new things was difficult!

There was one line from the article I read about the super-agers though that struck a cord with me: “You must expend enough effort that you feel some ‘yuck’. Do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.”

As I look back on 2016, despite the challenges, I couldn’t have been prouder of myself. I took off my Student identity and put on an entirely new Working Girl outfit. I moved out of my parents’ house, which may or may not have been beneficial, but what the heck, I had decided, and I’m sticking to my decision. Finally, I made another big decision with my partner, which sways from the traditional path that many take. It’s scary, and it took a lot of discussions, but I believe that I also thought long and hard about it, and decided ultimately, that it is worth taking a risk with him. Fingers crossed for the both of us!

I didn’t spend enough time developing my new identity last year. But that’s a learning I’ll take. This year I have a chance to learn something new, through opportunities at work. The epiphany came this morning- training myself in this new practice did indeed made me feel ‘yucky’. But I have to believe that it’s only yucky at first, so I will persevere.

Happy 2017! 🙂

Leaving a piece of my heart in Chicago

I am currently in Houstan, Texas waiting for my plane ride back to Auckland. The past 7 days have been crazy hectic and exhausting, but I am so happy I took the spontaneous trip.

Two weeks ago, my mom told me that my grandfather in Chicago was terribly sick and the they weren’t sure how long he has. So my parents decided to fly to Chicago. I told them I wish I could come, but I had my exams (the psychology registration exams, probably the most important exam of my life) coming up in the next month (now it is only two weeks away). So I initially told my mom that I couldn’t make it.

I guess the decision did not sit well with me because the next day at work, I kept asking colleagues for advice even if I had already made a decision (or so I thought). It wasn’t until I told my supervisor about my situation when everything changed.

“Take it from me, family comes first.” 

In other words, go. So I did.

And while I am definitely not excited to come back to backlogs at work, papers that need to be finished, and study to be crammed, I think I am very thankful to have had the opportunity, and the push to go to Chicago with my parents to visit my family.

I did not realize how much I missed them until I saw them all again- relatives from mom and pop’s sides of the family. I did not realize how deprived I was of family connection until we got together again. You see, I did not grow up with a lot of cousins in the Philippines. We rarely saw my pop’s side of the family because some of them lived in their hometown province, while most of them had moved to the States. My mom’s half-sisters and brother also lived in the States, and while we try to keep in touch as much as we could, we also do not see each other often. And of course, when we moved to New Zealand, I had to say goodbye to family in the Philippines. We have family friends who are kind of like aunties, uncles and cousins to me too, but I guess you can’t beat the bond between the real thing. I am so happy, especially because I got to meet my baby cousins as well (children of my mom’s half-sister). I especially bonded with my two-year old cousin, and it is just so precious to be able to meet her at this part of her life. She’s so bubbly and energetic, and she keeps addressing me as ‘my cousin’ which is the sweetest thing. I love my mom’s side of the family- they are so nice to my mom and our family, that I never regarded them as half-aunties or half-cousins.

And of course, getting to see Lolo, was worth everything. We had spent a lot of quality time with them back in 2003 and 2005 when we visited Chicago, I was probably around 13 or 14. We had a roadtrip to Disneyland, and we lived in their house for a few months. It was really special. Lolo couldn’t remember us sometimes because of his illness, but when I told him about how my brothers still try to attack each other with straw wrappers, the way he taught us all when we were little, everyone swore he was trying to laugh. When I introduced myself as his granddaughter, his face suddenly lit up with a smile- and that is such a big deal because of his memory, and also because we thought his mouth was affected by the stroke. He could still smile afterall!

Mom looks so much like Lolo. She also inherited tha family’s humor. I am still amazed at how similar my mom and her siblings are in terms of their wit and silliness.

I’ll be ready to go back to work. My stress a few weeks ago when I was deciding on whether or not I should go seems to have shrunk, after this trip kind of put everything into context.