I remember in my 2014 post that I had set up a new year’s resolution for myself, but I don’t remember what. So I reread the post and was reminded that I was supposed to write down the happenings in my life as frequently as I could, as least once a week. Even as I had almost entirely forgotten about the resolution, I still stuck to it, at least up till September. Then, the entries deteriorated, gotten lesser until there was only one in December, and that entry wasn’t even related to what I had done on that month.
I wished I had written down what happened, but truthfully speaking, September through December had been really busy months for me, sometimes a bit overwhelming even. I mentioned before that if I wanted things to happen to me, I had to make them happen, because opportunities don’t miraculously come to people like me; I had to pursue them in order for something to happen. And that was what I did.
Earlier in the year, I was in my second semester of uni, and while I did all the adjusting to a new and foreign environment back in my first semester in September 2014, the feeling of being alone, and how I had to learn to come to terms with it, to cope with loneliness despite having people around me, that carried on ’till my second semester. Coming from an introvert – someone who needs alone time to recharge – you can imagine how lonely I felt. There were days where I enjoyed spending time alone, but some days being alone dragged on for too long and morphed into being lonely. I had friends, but I never really felt like I could truly be myself. I held different degrees of veils for different people – thicker ones for people I wasn’t comfortable with; thinner ones for people who would hang out with me, or have conversations with me. Thankfully as the academic year progressed, I got better. I’d like to think that I was in this indirect learning process where I learnt about myself, and interacting with people without having the safety net of my close friends to fall back on, if I said something stupid or was incredibly awkward. I guess because I didn’t have that assurance anymore since I came to uni alone, I had been harder on myself than I normally would if I were to mess up in a social setting or interaction.
For me, besides going to classes and getting good grades, I think I had spent the entire first year of my uni adjusting, and focusing on myself. I never realised how dependent I was on the people I loved, how much they contributed to my happiness until I got thrown into a place where I didn’t have anyone to call mine. It was definitely challenging, but I think I managed.
In my second year (which started end of September), I decided to be more active and participate in things that interested me even if they might seem scary at first. My School of English wanted to start a new society called the Literature and Drama Society, and they announced whoever was interested was welcomed to participate in a meeting they were organising, and so I went. I somehow ended up being the treasurer, which initially I thought it was stupid of me because I only learnt accounting for a year and a half in Form 6, like, I was not capable of managing accounts. But then I realised other than preparing a cashbook – with a readymade template – every month, nothing much was required of me. In fact, I guess because I felt that I hadn’t helped out as much with the society, I ended up helping them to organise a trip to the Georgetown Literary Festival, which I think was more than what was originally expected of me. I had never organised any event in my entire life, let alone a trip to freakin’ Penang. Although I mostly helped the society’s president, there was still so much to do and it was really stressful, but definitely a learning experience.
Besides being treasurer, I also somehow ended up agreeing to help my friend with another society’s newsletter (or magazine), which I was appointed deputy editor. What I mostly did was editing, but I also had to learn to manage my team of three other editors, which I learnt wasn’t easy.
I also applied to be a student editor for my school’s online literary magazine, Particle. This was more professional compared to the other editor post, and I guess this could be the closest I’d come to feeling what it would be like if I were to work as an editor in the future. My lecturer was around to supervise us and there were a lot more emails involved. The previous deputy editor post was more casual I guess because it was student-run, whereas Particle was established under the School of English, and had submissions from all three Nottingham campuses, so I guess it had to be taken more seriously.
What I had also done differently this academic year besides being actively involved in different things, was that I learnt to say yes more often. I know it’s weird. I know normally people would have trouble saying no to things that were asked of them, but for me I always had trouble saying yes. I had a few close friends now, which meant (though not always) I’d be invited to outings and parties. I used to turn down these invitations in my first year because any kind of social participation sounded scary to me, and so I never really went to places with my friends except within the campus. That sounds pathetic, I know. But then I told myself I had to go out of my comfort zone once in a while if I wanted to experience new things, so I did.
You know what? I don’t regret any of them.
I think 2015 had been a year of two separate spectrums, in a way. I guess I was happier in the second half of the year, particularly because I tried new things and went out of my comfort zone once in a while. Being an introvert, there were many instances that made me uncomfortable and gave me anxieties, but they mostly occurred in the initial stages of a situation. When I was actually doing it, it was actually quite exciting. Of course not everything was fun or ended positively, but in everything I said yes to, they became experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise, well, experienced.
I also had my three close friends whom I affectionately call Potatoes to thank, because their involvement in my life largely contributed to the reason why I was happier. I don’t know how we became close friends in the first place, but I’m glad I said yes to their little invitations to dinner in the initial stages of our friendship.
Despite not being able to write as much towards the end of the year, at least I’ve gained experiences. Everything felt a bit muddled in my brain though, which is why I need to learn to have a balance between living and writing. I’m still working on that.
I guess I’m ending this almost the same way I did last year, that is: I encourage everyone to take chances once in a while, because who knows what will happen? I think that’s the most nerve racking and exciting part.
Also, if you ever feel like it’s hard going to college or uni or any new environment, being away from loved ones, just hang in there.
Remember: “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Robert H. Schuller.
Featured image by Benjamin Balázs