On the first day of 2017, I walked for hours in Osaka, Japan with my boyfriend trying to find things that were open. We hadn’t planned appropriately and I was getting more irritated by the moment. Being tired and walking a lot while hungry wasn’t new to me, but I hated how we didn’t have a destination in mind. It felt like wasting time. At night I’ve calmed down and we were eating okonomiyaki. I felt blessed.
Fast forward to a year later on January 1, 2018 at around the same time in the evening, I got into a car accident.
The snow never felt so scary and the winter never felt so warm. My coat was open and my mittens weren’t on my hands, but for some reason when I was assessing the damage to my car, the biting wind felt more like a breeze. I’ve always questioned how people in Korean dramas would just forget what had happened to them during traumatic events, but I know now.
It was ironic that the song playing right when my car crashed was “Be Well”by Sechskies. While I don’t think the event scarred me for life, yesterday when I got into the car to go see the doctor, I skipped to a new song.
I think life likes to throw curve balls like this one to remind me there’s always more growing and learning to do. In 2017, I accomplished a number of things that I’m very proud of. I finished my second degree, started my first real job and became a writer like I said I wanted to be in 2015. I had done what some people always dream to do — I made my dream a reality.
I became so comfortable talking on the phone through my job that now I can call virtually anybody to ask for an interview and then do it. I was finally proud of being in a career outside of STEM despite consistent pressure to be something more respectable than a writer.
I learned what it means to really have a conversation with someone and just how valuable it is to be able to talk about difficult and hurtful things with someone you love. For the first time I saw the value in experience and I became a little less ageist.
I’m dizzy trying to remember all the new people I met. Towards the end of the year I realized I was trying too hard to be social just for the sake of being social. My friends provided me so much support and I mistakenly thought I was doing things wrong by not using every minute of spare time I had on them. Am I a bit of a shut-in? Yeah. Is there anything wrong with that? That’s up to you to decide, but I don’t care what you think.
I started calling myself a “new adult.” After all, to say I was fully mature at 18 is more than just a stretch, it’s lying. I’ve crossed into the working world and finally have to learn how to build a life of my own that doesn’t revolve around assignment deadlines and studying for exams, and it turns out to be much harder than I thought.
For one, I had to move houses without help. And suddenly I learned to be a much better cook than I ever planned on being, albeit a somewhat inconsistent one because I don’t like to measure things. I had to budget in time to make sure I could sweep the snow off my car before I left for work, something that was always someone else’s responsibility.
My eyes also showed no signs of running out of tears in 2017. I continued to cry over pretty much everything. But if I didn’t cry, the alternative may have been me picking a fist fight or getting into drugs so I’d say my solution was a pretty good one.
Looking ahead to 2018, did my goals change after I crashed my car into the concrete barrier? I’m not sure. Hours before it happened I told my boyfriend I was working on becoming a better person, in particular being more conscientious and more thoughtful.
After having yelled through my tears at strangers who were only trying to help me on the side of a snowy highway in the growing darkness, I see now sometimes it simply doesn’t matter what I intend to do. And we’re all a little uglier than we want to be under the facade. What matters in the end is how I reconcile with what actually unfolded despite my best intentions.
I don’t have a list of tangible items I want to achieve for 2018 yet, and at this point I don’t know if there is any use in making one. I used to do it when I was younger. However, over the years I’ve come to realize what matters most to me isn’t checking boxes next to a growing list of ambitions, but rather becoming more of who I want myself to be. Is there a difference between the two? I don’t know but let’s just call it a day on that issue.
Here’s to a year of more curve balls, more mistakes and more growing pains.