Lessons of 2016.

by The Dreamer

Occasionally you stumble across a sombre experience that gets your heart beating fast and your mind racing fast and your stomach churning fast and suddenly your body is a tornado that is consuming you from inside out and to get out, you write.

Today has been a great day, like many other days of the past has been, but something that has happened (of which shall not be named and hopefully can be cast out and forgotten in the currents of time) and it induces the kind of sinking feeling like you’re struggling against quicksand. Nevertheless, it got me thinking and reflecting and looking inwards upon myself and I thought that this might be a good time to jot down some of my lessons from 2016.

  1. You can’t have everything in this world, and that’s okay. Your palms are 15.5cm small, so hold what needs to be protected and let go of the rest, the inessentials. If happiness sometimes came at the cost of perfect grades, if a stable mind came at the cost of productivity, weigh the consequences for yourself and make a choice (though your priorities should already be clear by now. Connections/Yourself > Grades, always.). Sometimes I hold onto things because they remind me too much of things of the past that, washed by time, became shinier and more sparkly than they actually were, like seashells. Most likely, they’re former shells of what once was that you can’t force yourself into, so let go let go let go.
  2. Perspective. Life is all about interpretation. An object will look differently from different angles. The sky looks different when you’re suspended in it and when you’re looking up at it and depending on where the sun is hanging at different times of the day. Similarly, stories will unfold divergently from different mouths. The best outlook to adopt is open.
  3. The world is one big mess and things are unfair sometimes. What used to be a distinct line cutting across Right and Wrong are in fact more complicated than sea territories. Tread carefully.
  4. Measure everything, not in terms of money or validation or effort, but in terms of time. Is this worth your time? After all, time is the best equaliser. Everyone, regardless of status or gender or race or lifestyle, has 24 hours.
  5. The words of others are NOT your words. Please repeat that 10000 times, Jean, and carve this in your heart. No matter how hard you wish that beautiful sentence was conjured from your mind, it was the ingenuity of others, so suck it up and move on. Create your own beautiful words, it’s in there somewhere. It’ll feel so much better when you get praised for it.
  6. Don’t be too quick to write people off. We are all imperfect individuals, but we are also constantly changing and growing. Just as you abhor people holding it against you and defining you by that one mistake you made as a snotty, immature brat, don’t impose your own self-perceived prejudices on others. Forgive, forget, move on. The faster you realise that everyone is in a way “problematic” and flawed, the easier it is to breathe. Learn not to make judgements that no one even asked you to make.
  7. Please always be honest. To others and to yourself. Never compromise on your morals or go against your conscience, even when people call you rigid or silly. Trust me. You’ll feel like the shittiest person alive and it will EAT YOU ALIVE when things fuck up because of your actions. The world is already lacking integrity, don’t contribute to the horror.
  8. With that being said, remember that life’s greatest lessons are usually learnt from the worst times and from the worst mistakes! Be kind to yourself.
  9. Sleep is important and sleep is great. Even if you feel anxious about sleeping your life away, don’t screw up your body clock just to fulfil your frivolous desires to finish that fic or manga. Don’t use live life to the fullest as an excuse to avoid listening to your body.
  10. At the same time, you will find that the most spontaneous of choices are often your best memories, times when you feel genuinely happy and peaceful.
  11. If someone has a story to tell, listen. Be the living archive and write those stories down someday. Don’t let them die out. Isn’t a pity how many stories are trapped in so many lonely souls, begging to be heard?
  12. Communication is so important. Don’t let misunderstandings and suspicions fester into a Cold War.
  13. Write for yourself. Your creations are valid and worthwhile. You are worthwhile. You will realise that validation is secondary and often unnecessary.
  14. Your dreams will change. Don’t be afraid of their volatile nature, don’t be afraid to dream big and as much as you want.
  15. Emotional connection is so important. When you live in a world where “logic” and “common sense” is the only thing that seems to matter, it’s all the more essential to hold onto moments when you can express your feelings and someone gets.
  16. It’s never about quantity.
  17. Grasp onto what you love and shout out just how much you love them even if it sounds dumb. If it keeps you sane, it is valid. Passion is often stifled, and society is so afraid to convey just how much they love what they love. Don’t be muted.
  18. If someone looks at you weirdly because you are expressing yourself, they’re not the right kind of company. YOU DO YOU.
  19. Adults are not always right. Parents can be ignorant about some stuff too. Bring it upon yourself to forgive them and to gently educate them. Also, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
  20. The sky is your best friend. It teaches you how to breathe again. Wake up every day just to catch the sunrise, even if you fall asleep again later on. It’s so worth it.
  21. Be fascinated. Don’t let the monotonous rhythm of society dull your spark.
  22. Talking to a plant or your doll can be oddly de-stressing and just what you need after a tiring day.
  23. If you can’t sleep or you’re having a bad day or you feel like everything is falling apart, there’s always See You at Harry’s and Reply 1997 and Zitten’s December here to welcome you home.
  24. Remember the day you were so upset because your sister got called “the clever one” and one cousin “the pretty one” and the other “the sporty one” and all you got was “the kind one”? Turns out, that’s the biggest compliment you can ever receive. Please always strive to be kinder than you feel. And no, that’s not called being phoney or insincere.
  25. You know you’re doing it right when everyone’s first impression of you is “friendly and easy to talk to” because that’s all you ever want. To make others feel comfortable and happy.
  26. Learn from your father and be generous….in fact, just stop shutting your father and learn from him. There’s so much wisdom in him, in spite of his shortcomings.
  27. Be as strong as the women in your family.
  28. Don’t let these things affect your quality of life: FOMO, being too busy trying to document every single millisecond of your experiences, when your friends and your family are crumbling and you can’t do anything to save them no matter how hard you try.
  29. Being alone and being lonely don’t have to be the same thing. Things like getting into a relationship don’t have to be an important milestone that you are competing with others to achieve in teenhood if you don’t let it be. Instead, make your own milestones and be proud of them, even if society don’t deem them as significant milestones.
  30. Kids are the best kind of medicine. Laughter is the second best. Words are the third. A mixture of all three will keep you strong and healthy.

I have a few more but I think I will reserve them for next time?

And alas, writing really heals the soul. I feel much better.

Till next time.