Of course we are here again for the somewhat mandatory new year’s post.
What is January first but just another day? Over the past few years I have come to realise the empirical difference between the 01/01 and every other day – absolutely nothing. But as with every other silly, hopeful, romantic teenager across the world, I tacked significance onto dates, items, memories.. and yes, fine, I’ve always been melodramatic. I would physically ache when passing places imbued with some vague form of assigned significance, and certain calendar dates would make me cry for no good reason at all. How silly, you say. But aren’t we all?
As I graduated from my teenage years I started to shake the overemotional penchant for the dramatic from my bones, seeing it as a sort of marker that I was getting older and supposedly wiser. I felt proud of myself. This is maturity, I said to myself stupidly. Of course it wasn’t.
Every year countless people share their new year resolutions and their hopes and dreams on the stroke of midnight, and an equal number of people repost articles from the Washington Post Mag, Huffpo, and so on, explaining why new year resolutions are bullshit. I struggled for awhile with the idea of balancing the two, synthesising them to come up with my own stance on it, when I realised: who cares? Honestly, truly, who does? It is certainly hubris to assume that everyone you know takes your thoughts personally, and knowing that you are mainly accountable to and responsible for yourself is in itself liberating. Do what makes you happy on January the first, I say. And then deal with the consequent train of action accordingly.
2015 was an intense year for me. It was wonderful and terrible and heartbreaking and exhilarating and it made me different. Debatably stronger. Probably better. Definitely happier. It was the year of leaving – at the start of 2015 I made a small, private, resolution: to travel somewhere every month. To take one tiny step towards seeing more of the world before, as teens these days so poignantly put it, shit gets real. It started out as a joke and I surprised even myself when I did it. January saw me in Bangkok, February in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, March in Phuket and Tokyo, April in Penang, May in Osaka and Kyoto, June in Hong Kong, July in London, Exeter, Bath and Paris, August in Batam, September in Sydney, October in Bali, Batam, and Phuket again, and finally November and December in Abu Dhabi, New York, Boston, and Seoul. That’s 22 cities in total, 20 if you’re not counting repeat cities. It’s more than I could have dreamed of growing up.
I love travel. I mean, honestly, who doesn’t? But it took all that travel to realise what I was also doing on the flipside – leaving, always leaving. And it kills me that thats what it took to help me realise just how much I love and cherish the people around me back home. Suddenly time in the motherland was scarce. It had to be divided between work, filming, my masters, and friends. Friendships become so much more precious when you have to really commit to it instead of just casually having a vague circle of friends around you perpetually that you more or less take for granted. Come on – you know what I mean.
The year of leaving and learning also helped me come face to face with the enormous amount of privilege I have, simply having been given the birth advantage of being relatively healthy, being born into a time of relative peace, and having access to education, opportunities, and love/support from friends and family around me. We often assume victim mentality when facing anything just the slightest bit tough – I had to overcome all odds, life is tough, how come XXX has it so easy? Ive always been proud of the fact that I work fiercely and relentlessly for what I want, but let’s face it – the ability to even do so is a massive privilege in itself. For this I am grateful.
To label a year good or bad, I feel, is reductive. I cannot do it. 2015 was intense, is what I will settle on. I am thankful. It is with gratefulness in one hand and hopefulness in the other that I approach 2016, praying as I do each year, that it will come and take my breath away. x
Stay gold, kids.