Usually when the end of the year approaches I incredulously ask myself where the time has gone. I think it can't be possible that another 365 days has passed. I used to think that this was a good thing, that it meant time was flying because of how great life is. I am not dispelling that notion, however, I am going to say that my year this year felt different.In some ways it feels like time stood still but in others it flew by.
2011 was a benchmark year for me in so many ways and I can't even begin to measure the amount I learned, grew, and accomplished. I started out the year working at an all Vietnamese PR firm, a move that was disastrous in some ways but also provided me with a great learning experience. I hate when people say that actually, it seems obligatory and cliche to say when something wasn't great... but I did actually learn. I learned about Vietnamese culture, I learned about the different ways to approach people. I also learned that I wanted to work for a foreign owned and run company. I started my current job (which is both) and I spend every day doing something different and challenging.
Somewhere during the year I had an epiphany with what I wanted to do with my life. I've always felt a little lost, like I was kind of stumbling around, going through the motions but never really knew what I was working towards. Never really felt inspired. I really didn't like the feeling of having no direction and was unsuccessful in finding one by just thinking about it. I guess thinking about things too much can result in more confusion and discontent. The answer came to me when i wasn't even asking the question, when I was just being...I realized that my lifestyle, the people I enjoy being around, the things that evoke passion all lead to one thing and before I knew it I had decided that I wanted to go back to university and study International Relations. I want to work in Foreign Services. It is such an obvious choice, and one that I perhaps avoided considering due to my upbringing. Maybe I should just accept that I'm exactly like my father and that it's ok to be. :)
2011 was also a year of extreme emotional growth.
I have spent so much time building this wall around myself, making it impossible to get close. I am, for all accounts, obsessed with appearances, with not looking like I failed. With seeming invincible. The truth is, that I didn't allow anyone close enough to break me. I come off like I am open and receptive but always stopped just short of really handing myself over. I didn't want to because I was scared. I am known for over-analzying, for anticipating the worst, for needing control of a situation. (such great qualities haha) You can't enjoy life that way not to mention it's impossible. I have an amazing network of friends-pillars really-who have shown me the definition of loyalty and being there for someone. Who have been supportive and my strength when I didn't have any. Who care about me and who I care about as well. I feel safe in my relationships, like we all want what's best for the other. There is no rat race competition or backstabbing. There aren't frenemies, just teammates. My close relationships are geniune and solid.
I can't really talk about 2011 without mentioning my romantic relationship, which spanned across nine months of the year. I have avoided speaking or writing about it because I don't really have the right words to define what it meant to me. It was something I fell into, completely unexpected and quite frankly, unwanted (at the time) but I had no idea how much this one person would impact my life. I got a lot of grief from people about it, they thought us being together something comical. I never really felt the need to justify or explain it, I never viewed it as anyones business and I still don't. However, my year was shaped and marked by this person, not just my year... but my life.
My relationship surprised me in every level imaginable. I could recite of list of adjectives describing him or tell some anecdotes but I don't see the point. What matters is how he made me feel, how he came into my world and made it beautiful in degrees I didn't realize it could be. With his "let it be" approach, he asked me to relinquish control, to stop needing all of the answers but just go with the rhythm of life... he made me willing to unapologetically go all in for a CHANCE of something that could've paid off. If it didn't work, at least I gave it my best shot. Being someone who guarded my heart too much, he gave me the courage and nerve to love as if there was no tomorrow. I knew that by exposing everything that I was was opening myself up to heartache but he made me willing risk that. I think there is something beautiful in that.
He, by just being himself, allowed me to want more for myself. Against all of my resistances, he made me fall and made me incredibly vulnerable. With him, I began to feel. I stopped running away and stopped closing myself off. He coaxed me into this way of being despite my fighting him the whole way, he showed me that it was ok. From day one, I knew it wasn't going to work out. People asked me all the time, why I would be with someone that I knew I had no future with. Why I'd set myself up for hurt. I didn't know how to really answer, I knew we wouldn't really last... circumstances made it impossible, but I didn't care. I didn't care because for the first time in my life I was with someone who made me feel all the things I always dreamed of feeling but didn't realize were actually possible. I had always had this vision in my head of how I wanted a relationship to be, but was never able to get it quite right. There was always something lacking, until this one who showed me that it was possible to have it all. Even if it was temporary, I wouldn't trade our time together for anything in the world.
I'm not going to pretend like it was perfect. It wasn't. Elements were frustrating and stressful. I also found myself feeling angry and hurt a lot, mainly towards the end, and there is still some residual left from that, but for the most part, I couldn't believe my luck. While I knew I'd have to give him up, the mere concept that someone like him exists restored my faith in life and love. And when we ended things just shy of nine months I was broken. Not because it was a surprise, and not because it wasn't mutual (we had one of these rare experiences where we both saw the writing on the wall and both wanted to leave and did so as amicably as one can) and not because I thought we'd get married, but because it was the end of a rare and idealistic romance. A fairytale really.
Sometimes I break down and cry about it. I don't really know how to explain why. The relationship ran its course, we are not supposed to be together and I don't want to get back together. So I don't understand why I am crying. I shouldn't cry because the truth is, despite whatever hurt or anger or frustration I felt or still feel, I got so much out of our relationship, I evolved. I guess I cry for what was, and for losing what we had and I worry that maybe I am a failure, that I can't keep a good thing, or that, because of the anguish I feel at times, that maybe it wasn't real after all.
My emotional development, these changes and enlightenments, are not solely contributed to him, and haven't just affected how I am in a romantic relationship but how I am in life. I am now the kind of person that talks about her feelings to people. Who cries in public. (ok maybe that's not good) Who doesn't care if she looks stupid. I say what I think, how I feel, what I want. I have been taught that strength is not keeping people out, but by letting myself be open. That as scary as it is to expose your heart and feelings it makes you a force to be reckoned with, and that only the weak hide behind pretense. I hate when I start to cry and sob, and I hate feeling so helpless and hurt sometimes, but I love that I am now able to express myself.
So 2011 was a year where I figured out what i want to do with my life, found a great job but also discovered a new kind of strength and faith. I began to trust people, REALLY trust people. And I also began to trust myself, believe in myself again. I have started accepting people for who they are at face value. I've stopped assuming that the world is out to get me. I've stopped anticipating hurt. Hurt may come but I know I can handle it. I, for the first time in for as long as I can remember.... have faith. Now all I need to do is stop over-analyzing.