A year in lessons


There’s something melancholic about the sound of raindrops falling steadily on the roof. It’s 2:30am, and I am sitting face-to-face with my Communications Law notes, poring over the legal definition and various elements of the Defamation Act. I don’t know if it’s the rain, the time or the silence, but it leaves me to reflect on the year that has passed.

2015 was just going to be any other year for me– I was still in my second year of university, and had no immediate plans for anything life-changing, and definitely nothing that warranted a paradigm shift. As usual, I had penned down a list of 14 resolutions I had wanted to achieve by year’s end, and in summation, what I had wanted to achieve out of it was personal growth.

In retrospect, I achieved all I intended to, and maybe more. I learnt a lot over the past year; about myself, about people, and about life. It was undoubtedly a year characterized by change; so much so that I feel like a new person entering 2016.


1)  Happiness is a choice that stems from self-love

I speak for people like me, of (relatively) sound mind; not plagued by mental health issues like depression or anxiety. I used to let the people around me dictate my happiness, and I surrounded myself with people who had boundless amounts of negative energy, which in turn, sapped the positivity out of me. It did not take much to trigger a highly emotional response from me at that time– I snapped easily, and I found myself to be very angry on the inside, even if I did not show it. It was only until I exited certain relationships that made me feel that way, that I began to realize that there is no one else who can look out for your well-being much like yourself. People can always say, “no one is going to love you like I do”, but it does not matter. You will love yourself. You have to.


2)  Good things can happen if you push yourself 

I never cared much for academics when I was in secondary school–especially in Form Six, because I knew what I wanted to achieve in life; and that had nothing to do with what I was forced by the education system to learn. I knew that I was not going to utilize the Chemistry and Pure Math lessons I suffered for, so I took it for granted. Thankfully, I was bestowed a chance for self-redemption when I got to university, and since then, I have not stopped pushing myself. I entered university in 2013, and 2015 was no different. This time, my goal was clearer. When I was in my first year, I was too absorbed in finding my footing and learning how to cope with the pressures of being in university. Being in my second year, on the other hand, proved to me that there was no room for tomfoolery anymore. I made sure to put in consistent effort in everything I did, and watching it all pay off at the end of every semester just reaffirmed my conviction that hard work gets you to wherever you want to go.


3)  It’s all right to be different

A good friend of mine recently told me that I can be a little insecure at times. Although I knew that about myself, I did not truly understand what it meant to be insecure. It was only recently that I learnt why– because I am different; maybe even a little weird. I would much rather hole myself up at home than to make new friends. A good book would interest me more than any social event. I do not talk about the things other people talk about. I think a lot about everything, to the extent that I have had friends say I have “too much time on my hands”. These were the same friends whom I spent years with in secondary school– the most formative years of my life. That’s why hearing that from a majority of them gave me the belief that maybe there is something wrong with me. Turns out, the friends you grow up with aren’t necessarily the ones you will grow into when you’re older, which brings me to the next point.


4)  Losing friends is inevitable

Sometimes, you fall out of touch with your friends, and other times, you fall out of friendships. However, it is important to remember that the friends you used to spend all day in school with are not necessarily the friends you can connect with in the same way when you’re older. Time and geography will shape us in different ways, and people evolve into different individuals. As for myself, I feel very disconnected with many of the friends who were once my best friends– which is not a bad thing. It just means we are different people now. How I best deal with this is to let the tides take me to wherever they desire, and even if those friends do not understand that I am a different person, that is completely fine. Friends come and go, and a lot of the time, it is necessary to let go of friendships that are destructive. At the same time, though, new and better friendships will evolve along the way, so it’s not all bad.


5)  Even if you’re an introvert, go out and meet new people anyway

This year, I accepted the fact that I am more introverted than I would like to think. Social events perplex me and I am uncomfortable in crowds, especially unfamiliar ones. One night, as I was out for drinks with two of my girlfriends, I said jokingly that I wanted to be introduced to a guy friend of theirs. They took me seriously and the next thing I knew, they organized a meetup with that friend. I wanted to back out of it, but by then, it was too late. When the day came, I was my natural, awkward self. I did not want to meet new people, because small talk bothers me and stresses me out. What resulted, though was something amazing.


I met the man who would later become by boyfriend. No one listens to me or understands me quite like he does. We have similar eccentricities, and he can make me laugh without force (which is hard for anyone to do)– but that’s a story for another day. Bottom line is, I’m glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone that night.

2016 is less than a day away, and next year is going to be a big one for me. I will graduate, find a job, and hopefully anchor myself in a new city. If 2015 was already so life-changing for me, I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings. Happy New Year, everyone. 🙂



Author: Natalie Ha

I remember being enthralled with the written word ever since my parents started reading fairytales to me at a young age. Seeing the power it has to influence behaviours and mindsets, I have learned, over the years, to translate my thoughts onto paper, in an attempt to positively disrupt the lives of others. Having my written works published in various forms of media has empowered me to weave stories that people can resonate with. I look forward to the life-long process of perfecting this craft, and hope to see my work touch the hearts of many in the future. This blog attempts to do just that - and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy penning it down.

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