Looking Back on 2014

I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

It’s not just because this year-end posts are time-consuming and I always forget something. If you recall last year’s post, I ended 2013 feeling really proud of myself for having accomplished so much. And I was proud of myself because I had consciously said “yes” to opportunities rather than saying “no”, as I usually do.

Unfortunately, in 2014, I didn’t say “yes” as much as I wanted to.

I won’t sugarcoat it: 2014 was difficult for me. This past summer was especially unkind to me, definitely one of the worst I’ve experienced thus far. Life is full of ups and downs; where 2013 proved to have more ups, 2014 had a not-insignificant number of downs.

As I write this, I am laughing to myself in spite of how painful this past year has been because well, this is almost exactly how I began my 2013 recap post, with a bit of yammering about ups and downs. Man, if only I knew it could get worse! I know now: Next year can always be worse.

But let’s not get bogged down in how much 2014 tested me. After all, I survived it! I live to fight another day. Let’s see what I survived this year:

  • Managed to have a little fun with our extreme polar vortex cold weather
  • Went to Atlantic City with my boyfriend and friends for Yelp’s Winter Break
  • Survived a small car accident (and learned to really fear driving in inclement weather)
  • Celebrated Chinese New Year in with my family in China for the first time
    • Set off legit fireworks
    • Visited Harbin’s Ice & Snow Festival
    • Saw a North Korean ice-skating troupe perform
    • Achieved a new nosebleed record (and had to have my nose cauterized twice when I came home)
  • Live-tweeted the 86th Academy Awards out of loneliness
    A sample of some of my live-tweets from early on in the evening.
  • Participated (sorta) in the March DisneyBound Challenge

    Marie (The Aristocats)
    Marie from The Aristocats
  • Completed (almost) BEDA (Blog Every Day April)
  • Started a new job
  • Went on my first bar crawl

    Commemorative mugs that change color when you put an icy beverage in!
    Commemorative mugs that change color when you put an icy beverage in!
  • Attended a Wale & Big Sean concert

    Not pictured: Big Sean, Wale
  • Purchased this domain name you are visiting right now
  • Made a flower crown
  • Took another family vacation on a cruise ship

  • Trekked to New York for one of my too-rare solo pilgrimages to my old home city
  • Saw The Fray live at the National Zoo

    • Visited the National Zoo for the first time!
  • Left a new job
  • Ate a pork blood + lard cupcake — and liked it

    Pork blood red velvet cupcake with lard frosting and pork cracklings on top… maybe the least kosher thing I’ve ever had
  • Attended the first wedding of my own age/friend group (!!!)

    Congrats again to Emily and Phil! Thanks for sharing this day with us 🙂
  • Received my first wedding invitation for my own friend group
  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner on my own

    Complete with folded napkins
  • Got a one-year membership to the National Aquarium

Let me tell you one of my main takeaways from 2014: I do love dressing up. Whether it’s for holidays…

St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick’s Day, wearing basically all the green I own

… DisneyBounds…

Mickey Mouse (Oscar night)
Mickey Mouse for the Oscars

… or for work…

Channeling the Cho Chang that never was with power couple Megan and Don (@andmegansaid and @thedonofgaming)
All aboard! Fun fact: Several people thought I was a real flight attendant who had stumbled upon a travel-themed party?
Ringmaster outfit for our Halloween party
Sassy Santa?

… I’m more than happy to dress for the occasion. I hope that I got more chances to do so, but I’m really finding a lot of enjoyment in coordinating an outfit around a theme, and I’m going to be incorporating that enjoyment into my resolutions for next year.


 

As always, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something from this past year. (Last year, I forgot that I saw Turquoise Jeep live!) But the important thing is that I survived this year. I can feel a real change in the person I am now versus who I was a year ago. It makes me kind of anxious and nervous about 2015 and what it will bring.

But regardless of how I feel, the sun will set and rise, another day will be there, and another calendar year will be upon us. I have my new planner ready to go, and I’m getting my resolutions post ready. I’m going to take the lessons I learned from 2013 and 2014 and try to make the best of 2015.

Thank you for your support during 2014. My year would have been so different without it.

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2014 Resolutions – Goals & Aspirations

It is that time of year again. You already know what it is, I am the kind of person who requires a list goals to keep myself on track. Let’s get this party started.

Concrete Goals

This is my list of achievable, measurable goals. By the time December 31st rolls around, I will know whether these were completed or not.

  1. Find a new full-time job. I delayed entering the real world because I worked in the research lab that I was at for 4 years as an undergrad for the first half year of me being graduated. That job was making me unhappy, and it was no longer aiding in my new career goals.
  2. Clean my room. Hahahahahaha okay I’ve given myself a year to do this, it should work out, right? This mostly means that I need to
    1. Organize my clothes and books
    2. Throw out a lot of things I have been hoarding
  3. Move out. I think I will need to move out and be on my own again, soon. Getting my room in order will likely help me with that. I don’t need to do this ASAP, but it would go hand-in-hand with getting a new job. Sometime this year, I should move back out.
  4. Post 50 blog posts. I have really enjoyed blogging more regularly again. I’m going to aim for about one a week, so, with any luck, I should have no less than 50 posts by December 31.
  5. Read 30 books. This will be tricky, especially if I don’t have a designated commute time to read books.But I do miss reading and I should try to set aside some time for it. (I anticipate not being able to do one a week.)
  6. Win NaNoWriMo. “Winning” means that I’ll have written 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. This year’s effort didn’t go very well, because I hadn’t given much thought to it until November 3. Next year, I’ll develop my story a bit more and try again.
  7. Full. Split. I completely dropped the bomb on this resolution this past year. That’s frustrating but I learned my mistake: Not only do I need to set a concrete physical goal, I need to have in place a training plan to achieve it.
  8. Get 700+ on the GMAT. I should really think about taking this test if I want to think about applying to business school. I think a score in the 700+ range should leave me in good shape to worry about other admission considerations besides GMAT score.
  9. Wake up by 8 on weekdays, by 10 on weekends. Admittedly, this is primarily so my parents get off my back about me sleeping in and “when I was young, I woke up before dawn because I had a dream and I had to have it!” but I should get my life together and stop wasting away my daylight hours. This may help with my oft-failed resolution of not sleeping too late.
  10. Read The Little Prince in French and Chinese (and Russian?). I would like to really work on my language skills this year. Le Petit Prince is a book that I have loved for a long time, but it’s also short and has relatively simple language. To be able to read it in other languages without having to refer to a dictionary AND while being able to fully understand everything I read would be great. (This book may be changed depending on if I find one better suited to this goal.)
  11. Drink no less than one liter of water a dayAnd perhaps other non-dehydrating beverages, but I primarily drink water and nothing quite quenches my thirst like water. I have been working on this one for a while and I do drink more water than I used to, but there is more room for improvement. I know that humans get a lot of water in food, but this is specific to me ingesting water in water form.
  12. Eat at least one full serving of fruit and one full serving of vegetable a day. Last time I put this resolution down, I knew it was not enough and I was called out on it. But so many days pass that are so carb heavy with nothing more than maybe burger or noodle toppings to pass off as vegetables. I need to more consciously incorporate fruits & veggies into my diet. Some days, I would buy a smoothie or a Naked juice just to make sure that I did this consciously. I think I often eat my vegetables incorporated into other dishes (e.g. celery + carrots in chicken noodle soup), but it would be good to have just a dedicated veggie dish every single day.
  13. Do not buy any more makeup or skincare. Buy skincare only when previous products are empty. My little Black Friday splurge was fun, but I have zero reasons to buy more makeup. I have more mascara than I know what to do with, because I always buy sets, and mascara is always in those sets, and I wear makeup never. I do, however, want to continue investing in my skincare but it is unnecessary to buy new things while I still have products that work well.

I have many other goals that I can probably make more concrete, but this seems like a good place to start.

Abstract Aspirations

This list will be harder to keep track of, as far as whether I’ve achieved them or not, but they are nonetheless important.

  1. Allow myself to be happy. The ThoughtCatalog post “10 Lies Depression Tells You” really forced myself to criticize thoughts I had, such as “I deserve the unhappiness I have and any future unhappiness I inevitably come across”. It is time to stop being such a defeatist. I acknowledged a short while back that happiness is an active process. I acknowledge now that everyone – myself included, as difficult as that is to believe – deserves to be involved in this process.
  2. Pick my battles. I want to detail this a bit more in a post later, but I have improved significantly with regards to inhibiting myself and not getting into arguments that would benefit no one. However, I am not blind to my less-than-savoury interactions with my loved ones, and I acknowledge that I have a ways to improve here.
  3. Make fitness a priority. I liked the person I became when I was training for a 5K and then taking a ballet class. Every year, I berate myself for not being physically active. My ballet class lent support to my hypothesis that I need an external structure, i.e. a class or an event, to keep myself committed to my physical fitness. Preferably, I’d love to find a new ballet class, or perhaps even a barre class, to attend. I know I dislike running (although that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it), so ideally I can find a really fun dance class or two to keep me moving.
  4. Hone my music skills. My heart aches at how long it has been since I’ve played my piano. And I joke often about how I am addicted to karaoke, but I seriously love it and it makes me legitimately blue that I haven’t been in several months. I would love to join this competitive karaoke league I heard about, but I need to do some more research first.
  5. Refine my web presence. I am kind of playing around with my web presence since graduating. I don’t know how serious I want to be about it, but right now I kind of want to make the plunge and make this a real thing. I also have a collaborative project with a friend, and ideally, I’d love to be able to see some real results from both my personal stuff and that project to the point where it is an investment with foreseeable returns if I, for example, purchase a nicer camera and learn to use better editing software for photos and videos.
  6. Talk slower and less. I tend to talk really fast, especially if I’m excited about something. Often, it’s because I’m worried that the other party will lose interest and stop listening before my amazing story is over, so I just want to get to the end before then. Ridiculous, right? I also talk a lot. I’m a loquacious gal. It’s exhausting for myself and all unfortunate listeners, so this has to be addressed.
  7. Discipline myself. Many, if not all, of my goals will require discipline. I lack discipline and I usually do. I’ve relied on being admittedly bright for a lot of things, but that just isn’t cutting it anymore. I need to stop being afraid of hard work, and of the possibility that working hard may not fix my shortcomings.
  8. Invest time in my relationships. This was a year when I feel like I both neglected myself and my loved ones, which is ridiculous. I spent more time feeling guilty than with the people I care about. Obviously, this has got to change.

I always get nervous about publishing resolutions, not only because it does force me to be accountable (which is the whole point of me publicly announcing them), but also because I worry that I’ve forgotten something important. But the beauty of resolutions is that you can resolve to make a change in your life at any given moment. January 1st is just a neat day to do a big list like this. But if I decide sometime mid-April that I want to be able to run 10 miles (ha!) or in October that I want to get paid to cosplay, then I have every right to do so.

The only thing that changes on January 1st is the numerical assignment of the year. I will struggle to not write 2013 for about a month or two before I finally get the hang of writing out 2014. (I still tell people I’m 21, but that hasn’t been true for a short while now. Change is difficult for me :P)

I hope you all are having fun celebrating ringing in the New Year, whether you’re going out and have an amazing outfit or you’re staying in and watching the ball drop on TV. I’m off to sit with my family to watch a movie and see if i can convince them that watching the ball is a tradition worth keeping.

1. 1. 2014