After having “Year 25” written, I decide to continue this  year-in-review (Lunar Calendar) and establish it as a personal tradition, one is made to store memories and more importantly, allow me to reflect on the development of myself as an individual and as a professional.

#1. Uncertainty and Insecurity

Well everyone in the world tries to connect the dots looking backwards, compared to so many people whose their moments not yet arrive, I feel lucky that after living one fourth century, in October 2015 a pattern emerged from all of my messy dots: A Career in Experience Design °(❛ᴗ❛)°

Despite having most of the needed characteristics and skill-sets, I am still a newbie in the industry with no concrete portfolio and a lack of practical working experience. At the age of 26, by plunging myself into a complete unknown I have got the greatest freedom one can ever wish for. I am free of the imprisonment that I experience when I hide deep in my comfort zone. However, I also got to deal with an intense feeling of uncertainty and insecurity regarding my future.

Sailing across the ocean is great, you just don’t know what awaits you

There is an old saying on Wall Street, that investors hate uncertainty is the only thing certain. People dislike uncertainty even more than bad news since even if the prospects are negative, a strategy can be created to accommodate for the circumstances. Just like how the financial markets in the recent US election, had voted for predictability in the form of Secretary Clinton as President and a Republican controlled Congress.

Not only investors, everyone knows that it’s safer to ride on the fence. Derailing naturally leads to uncertainty “what does the future hold” and insecurity “am I good enough?”. I hate it when my parents ask about my job, I feel jealous when my friends one by one settle down and climb fast on the corporate ladder, I continuously fear that one day I have to spit out the terrible word of “regret”.

Unlike La La Land’s Mia, I do not have a Sebastian who tells me “You could just write your own rules”. But I do have a bunch of friends who board the same boat and struggle the same thing. We know exactly how each other feel and we are eager to share resources and support.

And as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said “Doubts can only be removed by actions”. The more uncertain and insecure I feel, the harder I push myself to study and work. Some goals were achieved, some were not, but I have applied the best of myself to the task at hand and learnt a great deal from the process.

At this moment, I truly believe that life can never be a daring adventure without some degrees of uncertainty and insecurity. When the feelings are inevitable, let’s just permit ourselves to feel them and stop trying to shut down the critic in our heads. It’s a battle within when we realise at the core of these feelings lie the questions we do not want to answer or the actions we hesitate to take.

Uncertainty and insecurity are actually the gifts, if we are willing to look at them through a different lens of interpretation.

#2. Newfound Interests

Without AIESEC, I’m no longer a busy bee. The mailbox is cleaned up, the phone has fewer and fewer missed calls and (Amy) gets out of use as I rarely have any appointment.

With so much free time at hand, I naturally pick up some new interests that helps me to grow intellectually as well as decompress when needed. While origami and abacus failed to do the job, Go (Igo), TFBOYS, Chinese Studies, Korean Language and Blogging successfully keep my brain engaged and give me something to look forward to every single day.

Lee Sedol – AlphaGo challenge match in March!

Some people are a bit lonely because they’ve gotten into a daily pattern where they’re either working, or they’re hanging around at home pursuing solitary hobbies. These newfound interests of me, on the contrary, provide me opportunities to meet new friends, enter new worlds and gain new perspectives on various things in life.

In case you don’t know, I have reduced significantly the time spent on Facebook without having to uninstall the app. Facebook is great, as long as we do not allow it to consume so much of our precious time.

#3. Family

Being too much dependent on my younger sister and for many times taking her for granted were something I always knew. But in the past few years I made a conscious choice of not thinking about it and always tried very hard to run away from the feeling of shrivelling up inside from being guilty.

We didn’t share the childhood together and there are just so many differences in personality and life direction, but in this world she is the only one sister that I have. So I guess I’d better start to act my age now.

#4. Friends

In our entire life, we can probably count our true friends on one hand and have an extended network of about 150 people we consider as casual acquaintances (“Dunbar’s Number”). As the social capital is limited, I decide to declutter my friendships (in both physical world and social media) to cultivate and cherish only the friendships with people I care or people who care about me.

This year I was extremely happy being able to reunite with some of my fellow AP MCPs and MC1415 members, pay a visit to the old volunteer house in Wazuka as well as have a cozy Thai dinner with Osamu and Chihiro-san. A short trip to Dalat with Chau and Jancy during the raining September and Christmas Dinner with Ryo and Hien in their apartment were also some of the best memories.

#5. Books & Music

Books: Dream of the Red Chamber composed by Cao Xueqin. The extraordinarily large number of characters (40 major characters and over 400 additional ones) and the complicated Jia family tree are such challenges that I haven’t finished reading even Book 1 yet.

Music: The only concert I attended in 2016 was Big Bang “zero-to-ten” in Osaka. While in Singapore, reselling tickets is not illegal but frowned upon, in Japan there are many sites for buying and selling tickets such as Yahoo Auction or Ticket Street. However, none of them has a page in another language than Japanese. To make things more difficult for overseas customers, credit cards issued outside of Japan oftentimes don’t work and tickets are not sent abroad. E-tickets are not common, either. So I bought my tix from Ticketbis and the overall experience was extremely satisfactory.

Jay Chou released his 14th studio album “Bed-time Stories” and started the Invincible World Tour since 30th June. I missed two concert stops Singapore (Sep) and Hong Kong (Jan) and even though the tour is still on-going, I don’t think I can make it in 2017 *sobbing*.

Most played song this year is 是你 – It’s You (TFBOYS) with 238 times (♥ω♥ ) ~♪ After getting to know this teenager band, the Chrome extension of Unblock Youku has become a must-have when accessing Youku, Tudou or QQ Music. I also start to use Kibey Echo (founded LIU Junyi 1991) to have better auditory experience. Out of 258 songs added in iTunes this year, 73 songs are C-POP.

New favourite group TFBOYS and new bias Roy Wang

Featured Image Credit: Pantone Color 2016 Rose Quartz & Serenity (Just my way to save time looking for suitable cover for every year-end note)