New Year, Old Concept, Same Life

At the debut of every new year, the vast majority of the 7 billion (and steadily increasing) human inhabitants of this earth sit down at their desks (or stand in their showers, take a run in their parks, do handstands in their rooms for all I know) and mull over the past 365 days with some sort of nostalgia, relief, or exasperation. Then they either pat themselves on the back or curse inwardly and look towards the next 365 with optimism, hope, and cynical pessimism.

Every single year.

And every single year the blogosphere fills with self-reflective messages, resolutions, and well-wishes, most of which ending with some enigmatic quote or obvious adage.

There’s something incredibly sentimental in that thought, I suppose. It’s nice to sit down for awhile, pen down your thoughts about the year, how much you’ve grown, how much you’ve learnt, how much has changed, etc, etc and then end off with a nugget of wisdom for your readers (mostly for your own smug satisfaction).

I know. Been there, done that. Still doing that, for that matter, judging by the direction this post is going.

I don’t know – I guess I find it rather contrived. Don’t get me wrong – I love reading the contemplative posts and introspective words that my friends post from time to time. I still love reading my old posts, and marvel at the (ahem) mature insights that I somehow spouted from the tender age of thirteen. But so much has changed this year (oh look, hypocritical me strolling down that dark path to sentimentality), and with new priorities, new attitudes to life – I somehow realize that what I’ve been doing, what I’ve been writing every year – well, it was rather excessive. A little exaggerated.

I suppose we all have the tendency to pontificate life, especially at these nostalgic times of the year.

And then comes the case of New Year’s resolutions.

I used to make New Year’s resolutions with a feverish devotion – I can see my twelve-year-old self in my mind’s eye, hastily scribbling and rescribbling down dozens of resolutions onto sheets of paper, then cellotaping them firmly to the room door with dogged determination. I don’t anymore. It’s not that I dislike the notion of New Year’s resolutions per se – on the contrary, I think everyone should resolve to do something with their lives – try something new, achieve something better. Jotting your goals down on paper helps you visualize it and materialize it. But what irks me about New Year’s resolutions is in its name – they are spontaneous creations that happen only once a year. 

Why confine yourself to making them once a year? Life is a continual path that never stops – your goals, aspirations and resolutions (yes, I do realize I’ve just reiterated the same thing thrice) are constantly redefining themselves. But as with any path we follow, I suppose there will be bursts of enthusiastic fervor and lags of inexplicable languor – so I guess that’s why people like to use the start of the new year as a mental checkpoint, to give themselves that much needed splurt of motivation.

The truth is, I’m delusional.

I like to think that I face the new year with indifference and detachment; I don’t like to acknowledge the flaming excitement and fidgety anxiousness that lies restless behind that calm, dismissive exterior.

2013 has honestly been the most eventful year of my life – and perhaps with the thrill of being sixteen (and going on seventeen – for those old souls still in love with Sound of Music), I’ve changed and grown in so many different ways. Looking back on this year’s posts, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing – disappointments, disillusionments, frenzied streaks of insanity and irrationality… Months of emotional indulgence, uncertainty, and turmoil that proved to be the most exciting, most frighteningly spontaneous months of my existence…

But I think that’s where we find ourselves. At least, learn more about ourselves. Somewhere in between the two extremes (or rather, teleporting between the two extremes – somehow life seems to be either unbearably dismal or intensely enjoyable – but never quite in the middle of the two), we make sense of who we are. What we stand for. Where our limits lie, and where our potentials may excel.

I’ve changed and grown every year, but somehow over this past year I feel like I finally begun to know who I am.

And it’s not a realization that simply dawned on me; I think it was an amalgamation of different things that slowly built up my self-confidence, assertion, and awareness of who I am in this universe, as a human being. It is with interactions with other people that ultimately elucidates this being of self (quite ironically, and seemingly contradictory- but true!). Humans are social beings. It is other people that influence us, that change us, that show us ourselves. That being said, only we can change ourselves. Only we can filter through the different things we perceive, the multitude of sensory information that reaches us.

This truly is a tumultuous world, and I was once afraid I would lose myself in its frenetic pace. I was always so worried about the trivial things – grades, CCAs, and colleges (oh dear, I know – the studious sort!), but over the past year I’ve let that go. No, my priorities haven’t changed much, I still care about these things as much as I did before, but I’ve learnt to let go of that pervasive worry and just live.

The biggest mistake I made was to hinge my hopes on external factors – will the grades be good enough, will my family be proud, will my proposal be accepted, will everyone else be happy with these changes, would they think I’m doing the right thing, etc, etc…

I’ve learnt to be content with simply myself. To be comfortable with who I am, and trust that it’s enough for everything, and everyone, else.

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self. ~Aldous Huxley

I can do that. We all have the capacity to do that. It’s all in the mind. In the persistence, in the determination, and in the discipline.

And so I start off this new year like everyone else – with the trust, with the belief, in myself.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. weihan2013 says:

    such a insightful, mature piece of writing, so well – written, can I circulate to some people…? Like YiYi, who should be amazed and Aunty Pik Kwang?

  2. Roo says:

    New Year’s day is just another day, like any other anniversary, birthdays and such. But we always put meanings into the most mundane things, because we need them to remind us again and lend us strength in our endless strive for our dreams. And aspiring to be better than ourselves, that’s what makes us human, all the best, and Happy New Year!

    1. ruruhoong says:

      Hear, hear! :) Cheers, happy new year!

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