As this year culminates, I, like so many others, am sitting back and reflecting on the past twelve months and reflecting on all of the events that life presented me and what I’ve learned.
My 2010 was a year full of firsts and changes. I left my cushy and comfortable life in New York City and moved to a foreign land. One where I was given an opportunity to start afresh and discover new dimensions of the world and more importantly, of myself.
I was fully unprepared for it all. I was supposed to be in Hanoi for six months, that was the plan at least. A few months into my new life, I made the decision to stay a few months longer…and after those months, I renewed my life decision to remain for an indefinite amount of time.
Living in Hanoi has given me endless opportunities from both a professional and personal standpoint. Hanoi, as I’ve stated so many time is the past, is the land of possibility. I have been given the chance to look at life in a whole new way, and realize that I can shape my world however I want to.
For the first time in my life I feel like the life I have is mine. I have created a world in which everything I have is completely mine. When we’re living in our comfort zones, we rarely stretch ourselves beyond what we know, we often remain stagnant. When moving to a foreign zone, we are immediately catapulted into a plight where our destiny is completely up in the air but also ultimately what we make of it.
I am not disparaging my former existence, in fact quite the opposite, I loved it. I was happy. I love New York, I love my family, I love my friends and appreciate the familiarity of it all. However, moving away showed me how much I needed to get away. That it was essential for my growth as a person to step away.
I’ve often stated that I’ve had lots of time to think, evaluate and been faced with elements of my personality, habits, and being that I never really examined before. It wasn’t always yielding, there were times that it was beyond difficult but I believe that everything I’ve taken away has been invaluable.
When I am around my friends and family in the US, I am constantly subjected to remarks where I am told that they see a definite change in me. A positive one. I agree with all of these assessments.
The most paramount lesson I learned while abroad was the importance of self. In the past, I tended to neglect myself, who I am, and my needs. I tended to just go with the flow, follow the path that I thought I should take, and this often resulted in doing what was easy rather than challenging myself.
This all changed in Hanoi. In Hanoi, my whole perception of the right path changed. I realized that the right path is not following the norm but actually doing what was best for myself. In the past year, I joined program that set me up with a school in Hanoi. I realized I hated the program and everything about it, and I chose to make changes rather than run home. I found a new job and a new home. I learned how to drive a motorbike. There were times I felt alone, and I had difficulty making friends. I was worried that I’d never feel like Hanoi was a home. I decided to take steps to rectify this. I went to parties and events alone, I forced myself to come out of my shell and take initiative. I successfully built a strong network of good friends that i adore and learn from.
Living in Hanoi has allowed me to be completely selfish but in way that has made me a happier and more dynamic person. I realized that somewhere along the line, I was a person crippled by my own insecurities and fear of failing. I met people who held up a mirror to who I am inside and made me want to change, but also showed me who I am and all I have to offer. So many of these people were so clued into who they were and what they wanted out of their life’s journey, and instead of being envious of their insight, I felt inspired to attain the same.
My first and true passion is the theatre, and I become involved in the Hanoi International theatre Society. Rediscovering my love for this has given me a renewed sense of confidence and motivation to follow my dreams. I believe now that anything is possible. That we don’t have to compromise who we are, or our dreams to fit in a mold. That we can have it all.
What I’ve gained in the past year is a whole new form of love. I fell in love with myself. I am disappointed to say that I never really loved myself. I was incapable of accepting myself for who I am, for what I bring to the table. I was so obsessed with validation and acceptance from outside sources that I failed to get it from the one and only person I really needed it from…myself. I spent endless hours worrying that I wasn’t smart enough, popular enough, successful or pretty enough. This year, I’ve learned to let all of that go. I’ve become better at taking what life throws at me, at accepting everyone (myself included) as is. People are who they are and rather than wanting them to change or be better, it’s important to love what’s already there.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt fully satisfied. I look at the life I’ve created for myself and I am happy and proud. I have a new and exciting job, I have a robust social life complete with friends from all walks of life and differing opinions that are a constant stimulation and joy. I see endless prospects in my career and my personal life. I have hobbies. I’ve built a life for myself and I built it entirely on my own. I’ve learned that being single doesn’t mean being alone. I moved to a new country, I’ve traveled solo throughout Southeast Asia, I broke up with a long term boyfriend and I’ve been ok. More than ok. I’ve done it gracefully and with a strength I didn’t realize I had. One that I probably wouldn’t have discovered if I lived stateside. I’ve become a more balanced person, one filled with determination, drive and confidence. I've made mistakes, and been alright with that. I no longer have a fear of failing because I know that there is no such thing as failing. That whatever happens, it's something to learn and grow from. I'm open to myself and all that being that person entails. I don't make excuses or apologies for that anymore. If you don't like me, I won't stress about it, because I am finally in a place where I like me, and that's much more important.
I’m truly happy with my life EXACTLY how it is, there is not an element that I feel is missing from my current state. I wouldn’t change a thing.
This is not to stay that I now reside in a state of self satisfaction. Not at all. I always believe there is room for self improvement, but now instead of berating myself I am excited for the challenge of what this brings.
Goodbye 2010, you’ve been better to me than I could’ve even imagined and I can’t wait to see what 2011 and beyond will bring.