10 lessons of 2016: A year in review

December 31, 2016

2016 has been one surreal, strange year. The world has seen some crazy, shocking and seemingly impossible things. Years from now, people will look back at 2016, wonder what we were on, and take a swig of strong drink.

Me? It’s been one wild journey. There were good times – absolutely amazing times. And there were also bad times, which I decided to take as lessons, blessings in disguise if you may.

If I could only use one word to summarise my year, it would be “bravery”. Letting go of fears, leaving my comfort zone and taking the leap – I guess throughout the year, I’ve been doing crazy, shocking and seemingly impossible things myself.

To make sense it all, I thought it’d compiled a list of things I’ve learnt and am grateful for. Perhaps it might help me make sense of where I’m going in 2017.

#1 Sometimes what makes you uncomfortable is what you need

The scariest thing I did this year was leave my first job at the end of June and hopped onto a plane to Europe a week later. Despite the fear and doubt, deep down I knew forcing myself out of the comfort zone would force me to find my next direction, whatever that was.

Every day since then, I would tell myself to have courage, even if it didn’t seem like I was going anywhere. The strange thing was that the more “uncomfortable” it was during this journey, the more accustomed I was to it.

It was exactly what I needed to grow.

#2 The world is your teacher when you travel solo

From July to September, I backpacked to 11 countries, mostly on my own. I took in the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes Europe had to offer. I made silly mistakes and perhaps questionable decisions.

But I learnt a lot as well, from budgeting better to planning on the go, navigating without a GPS and thinking on my feet. I experienced different cultures, met friendly people and made friends. More importantly, as a solo female traveller, I had to constantly trust and forgive myself.

#3 It’s okay if things don’t go as planned

When you are on the road for 3 months, it’s not easy to plan every step of the way. In fact, sometimes there are bumps on the road you can’t avoid. For me, it helped to slow down and go with the flow.

#4 Time doesn’t change friendship

Funny thing about friendship. If it’s strong enough, 3 months or 3 years does nothing to it. I realised that as I met up and reconnected with friends from around the world. It’s beautiful.

#5 Health shouldn’t be wasted on the young

A year ago, I decided that it was time to pay attention to my health. I signed up for the gym, ate better, signed up for a few marathons and stuck to the schedule. Turns out I quite enjoyed it and have since dropped 15kg.

Plus, I’m not going to get any younger, so I might as well make sure my health is in check.

#6 Don’t cave in to fear

After returning from my backpacking trip and 3-month hiatus, I was back on the job market. Although I’d promised not to panic and take my time to find the right one, I almost applied for a few jobs I’d sworn would be my last resort. Hey, you’d panic too if everyone you met kept asking for updates!

Thankfully I held on and didn’t stop searching, otherwise I wouldn’t have landed in my current job, which pretty much lets me travel and write.

#7 Don’t take loved ones for granted

Sometimes it takes a bit of shock, or prolonged time away from home, to remind you that your family and friends are more important than anything else. Never forget to spend time with them or keep in touch!

#8 Friends want to reconnect

Throughout the year, I got in touch with many old friends, near and far. And you know what? I realised that most of them do want to catch up with people from their past but never have the time to do so. Ironically, all it takes is one Whatsapp or Facebook message to break the spell!

People who know me, know that I’m usually the one to organise reunions and gatherings…only time and work can get in the way for me too. Sadly. Which is why one of my goals in 2017 is to take the initiative once more and reconnect with friends.

#9 Never grow up

This year for me has been about rediscovering my curiousity, passion and hunger for what’s out there. I intend for it to stay that way.

#10 Never stop believing

At the end of the day (and year), however 2016 has been for any of us, 2017 will be just be another day after another. I’m hoping for the best, soldiering on and looking forward – and you should too!

Be brave. Happy 2017.

“You’ll know where you’re going when you know where you’ve been.”

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