2016 might not be a year missed after all

During this week, the time between Christmas and New Year, I have come across many great reflective posts, funny memes, people’s new year resolution as well as people’s complaining about this moment – when the theme is always “new year, new me”.

To tell you the truth, I am often not among people making new year resolutions either, and I am kind of anti the cliche vibe: new year, new me as well. This is not to say I have never been like that in my entire life, so I am not here to judge or criticise anyone. In fact, I like this period between Christmas and New Year. It gives me the impression that holiday is not yet over, there is still one day to look forward to: the very moment our past 365 days went into burning flames in the sky. I have felt unsettled inside, as if a wave is rising up or an a bird is dying to fly out of her cage. That usually is a sign for me to write.

I think my recent posts have been much about what silver lightnings I saw within the dark days. They have fulfilled enough of reflection. Hence, right now, at 11am Finland time, on New Year Eve, my post is simply about inviting you all to join me in this one task. Are you ready? Okay, close your eyes. Ah, actually, no, I am kidding, that step comes later once you finish reading, because it does not make sense if you close your eyes now *awkward laugh*.

What I love about this last day of the year, is how emotional you can get. I might not be all for the cliche “New Year, New Me”, but I am all for the cliche “damn, how fast a year can pass”. You hear that often on this day. It is hard to believe the year is ending, on the very last day of the year. But 2016 to me is fast, insanely fast, in like a blink of an eye.

I don’t know how 2016 has been to you, but to me, I have not had many big milestones or achievements to count while looking back at this year. All I could see was the painful moments. Before Christmas even came, I got the most nervous thinking about today. I couldn’t get myself to actually believe 2017 is so closed. I did not know if I was ready for it yet. I did not know if I had gained enough energy and stability for a new start or a new chapter. Like everyone else who might share this feeling, I was scared 2016 has been a year missed for me.

But my alone Christmas gave me tons of time and space to think, to actually look back at what really happened this year. And as many of us, I think I have overlooked my own small milestones too. Do you recall the difficult days of this year, when you thought you could not continue anymore, whatever that “continue” means to you? You thought you would give up, perhaps a job, a task, a project, friendship or relationship. You thought something was too hard for you to do, to get over. You thought you could not do it alone. You thought you were a failure. You believed the future to you was blank. And remember the highly exhausted moments? Today, on this day, let’s rewind back to those times mentally, and you give your past selves a hug, a pat on your shoulder or simply say with a smile: “You have fought enough, relax a little, it’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to feel beaten down. But you will not be beaten down for long, you will fight it through”.

The best part of New Year Eve is this ability. We are now in the future moments our 6 month ago version desperately wanted to reach to. 6 months ago, I also desperately wanted someone to give me a hug, tell me those exact things. I wished for a person who could just do that without me even asking. I did have a person being there for me. It was just a bit not the same as I wished for in my mind. I realised the reason for that is because no hug would be better than the hug from the future me, the only person who truly understand what I went through.

I don’t remember if I have ever done this in other years, but I guess this mental hug is the most revolutionary for 2016. Be prepared to feel a little sad, guys. It is not supposed to feel so easy as it sounds. It took my breaths away when I wandered back to such moments, to look at myself crying in pain and hopeless to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever I might have been avoided sometimes not to think about, I wandered back there too. It is the last day of 2016, what the hell, right?

I guarantee you though, after such journey, after sadness comes relief. Isn’t it unbelievable that you successfully fought through? Do you feel like a superhero? Well you should. Be a superhero on this very last day, you are soon about to be the champion in 2016. Join me in embracing your winning moments on this last day, before you get prepared for another 365 days to come.

Tonight, when the fireworks are burst in the sky, give all of your bad memories into those flames and look at them burned. I always see the fireworks as the tool for me to let go of things briefly. I can imagine the very bad things of mine turn into such beautiful things in the sky. The light will take over me, let me to treat the firework as a personal gift for me. Right there, I also think about the good days that I normally forget. Even if 2016 has been the worst year I have lived, I would be too selfish to forget the small rare good moments keeping me alive. Those moments are the ones worth staying closed with me.

You see, we as human, we are very strong and persistent even if we think we are not sometimes. We are not given many chances to appraise ourselves for this, but New Year Eve is one of those chances. So I hope you party hard tonight! I hope you go out and see the fireworks and most importantly, you have done the mental comfort to your past selves!

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24th of December, 2016

How was your day?

What did you do?

Did you have a warm and cozy time with your family, relatives and perhaps, friends too? Did you excitedly prepare the Christmas dinner, retouch the Christmas tree and then cuddle up with your family on the couch after the meal?

Okay, maybe what I just listed are not even closed to what your family does every year during holidays. I think I got those images from the movies, and it has stuck in my head ever since.

Before you read further, I want you to continue with this post (if you have already stumbled here on a random chilling moment on Christmas Eve) with a very moderately happy tone in mind. Don’t take it as a sad and lonely post, because I should not allow you to.

Ever since I dreamed of seeing snow from the other side of my hypothetical house’s window, while wondering what Christmas gift I might get, while waiting for my mom to prepare dinner and my dad to finish up setting up the Christmas tree; I have never had a single Christmas as such in reality.

Quite understandingly, it majorly is due to where I come from. Our culture don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas, at least not the same as how my American, European, or if you allow me to generalise a little, as my Western friends. However, as any other kids, I enjoyed dreaming of the things I could not have. It questioned me when I saw the kids in the movie, living in the Western world, celebrating their Christmas holiday. I saw how the holiday were perceived very important to those people in the movies. And that magic can happen in this holiday. The best kind of magic will happen under the falling snow.
Where I come from is a tropical place. We don’t have snow. Instead, we have hot sunny days. We also don’t cuddle up inside the warmth to watch movies after eating big meals. Instead we usually dress nice and go outside. Some of us, whose religion is Roman Catholic, will go to church and have a bit different celebration, although I cannot tell you the exact details differing. Not every house have a Christmas tree and Christmas lights, but the centre area of my home city always has tons of Christmas decorations people are lining up to take good pictures with. There are also specific districts of the city, where each house put great effort in putting up Christmas looks, for passing visitors to observe in awe.
My annual Christmas years over there were mostly the same. I usually demanded my parents to take me to the centre for pictures; or I would figure out other ways to be there. It was always crowded, but I never minded. I wanted to feel the magic vibes of Christmas. And if I cannot see the true magic, I want to imagine them, by being dazzled by Christmas lights.

I remembered one Christmas, my dad took me to that special district to see one house by another house with amazing decorations. Another time, I was already a teenager and went to the centre with my friends. We all dressed in red, but I was jealous of how nice the other girls looked like in their clothes, even though I probably had already asked my mom to buy me new ones before. In some ways, I always felt inferior to the other same age kids, especially in the appearance during junior high years. Anyhow, that Christmas year turned to be a little wild, in my own sense back then. It was my very first time to stay out later than midnight. It was not intentional. I and my friends got stuck within the parade going on, since on that same day, the national soccer team won. We could not find the taxi to come home on time, so each of us had to call up our parents. I waited for my parents as well. I did not remember if I was even punished for that; the only part I recalled more strongly was when my family stopped at a restaurant on the way home, for night snacks. Suddenly, even though the streets were filled with crazy people racing motorbikes (as a way of showing happiness with the game victory, and maybe also patriotism; but I would never know how it ever got started), no snow or whatsoever, I felt so cozy within. Certainly, it was also partly thanks to the warm noodles I ordered.

Many years before, when my little brother did not join our family yet, I recalled my obsession with Christmas trees. There was this one time, my aunt brought home – a big house where three families on my dad side lived together – a small Christmas tree. She wanted to decorate that with her kids. But she only put it inside her family’s room. My cousins did not want me to join in, and if I recall right, I was being kept away from the tree at distance. You can imagine how disappointed I was.

And, those were the only two Christmas from the early years of my life I can remember. After the wild one I had during junior high, the next one staying with me the most was the Christmas I spent with my high school boyfriend, of course.

Among all kinds of things have shifted after I moved to Finland, my Christmas changed too. The scenes became closer to my childhood dream. The first year I was in Finland, I saw snow, beautiful and magical snow I only witnessed from the TV screen. In 2012, I finally could stand under the snow, let them touch my face coldly and tried to identify every snowflake falling on my gloves, which I still do them whenever snow comes. It was a very good Christmas. I spent the first holiday abroad with my two closed friends, whom still remain in my life in a certain degree and have been through ups and downs with me. We watched three movies: The Holiday, Love Actually and Rare Export. I bet you might know the other two, but not the third one. It is a Finnish movie with very dark humour sense, which took me at least 2 years later to finally get it.

Okay, so dream did come true, but that is the thing about life. When your dreams actually come true, it stops being as perfect as in dreams.

Continue reading “24th of December, 2016”

Finding your stable feet

There have been quite a few posts on my blog, in which I shared about my feelings towards different places I have lived in or have been to. Jyväskylä is probably the most mentioned city. You see, I came there before I even turned 18 officially, and the place was very much a representation of my big life milestone. I also lived in London – UK, in Breda – the Netherlands, Mandelieu La Napoule – France, and now, I find myself in a coast city: Vaasa – Finland. In addition to these cities, I have been to other few places for short to medium length travelling.

If you have read some of those posts, it may not come as a surprise that I usually develop connections with the places I stepped my feet in.

London was where I found a fresh young girl falling in love madly. London taught me the very first real but crooked definition of “love”.

Breda kept within it my Erasmus exchange memories, the laughter, the drunk parties, the friendship, the companies, the partners in crime and the one that got away. The Netherlands was how I brought myself back to excitement of being in a new place, making new friends and having a new purpose to dip myself in experiences.

Then, in Mandelieu La Napoule, I hid. I got defeated in these last 1,5 years. I was blinded with my own failures, I came back to my oldest passion – travelling/ moving to a new city, or perhaps, come back to also my most common excuse for escapism. Southern France gave me the peace behind every single wave rolling on the beach surfaces, behind the winds floating through trees while I pushed myself to hike towards higher and further point; but of course, to trade for such peace, I lived with lonesomeness.

Finland. Well, Finland became my second home town years ago, and has always been. In a way, I feel I am re-born here. Certainly, my relationship with this country has began to face obstacles and plenty of wonders. Even so, I doubt I would ever change my way of looking at it the way I am looking at it now – after every each time I return here after being in a different place – as if I am looking at the most familiar place to me ever.

I take pride in telling others the places I have been to, and lived in. Even though I take joy in dazzling others’ eyes when I tell them those places as my life achievements, they are also more than that. They have become parts of my identity. To tell people about my different types of crushes for these places, I am reminding myself of how I am living closely to my ‘coreness‘. Sure, it sounds romanticized, but sometimes, the things which sound most cliché, are unfortunately deniably true.

It is easy to forget the dream you had when you were kids. And I am not even talking about all the silly dreams we had, like being a superman or cat-woman, or a princess/prince/ king/ queen (despite the fact that the idea of having a castle is still very tempting now and then), etc.

But I mean, THE DREAM. The one and only one dream, speaks to you the most, and stay with you the longest.

For me, it is travelling, even before I am aware of what the term “travelling” would mean. This very special kind of dream seems the most challenging to keep. Because it is not unrealistic, you know you might be able to make the dream come true one way or another. But it is also unrealistic, years of growing up and attempting to be an adult at least has taught you much.

I have not lived enough to out-say other more experienced people about how to achieve your dream eventually. This post is not about that.

This post is for me to share the other side of my dream: the breaking-up phase with my places. As I know how lucky I still am, I don’t normally say out loud to myself the holes made inside me sometimes, after I leave a place.

Being on the move is great. Being on the move also equals not settling down, either physically, geographically or mentally, sometimes all. The excitement for exploration I depend on is short-lived. After certain time living in a place, you may fall back into a life with usual pattern plus repetitive daily activities. I myself find me in boredom. I see myself being curious about what may be different in some other places. I see me starting to look at tickets, jobs, paper work process and day-dream about being able to just pack and go.

So, people usually say, being on the move sounds exciting but one cannot always be on the move, and do that forever. And I usually laugh away their sayings. I laugh away even more if people add the ideas of starting a family and living permanently in one place. But there is nothing wrong with those ideas. In fact, I secretly agree with those people in parts. Being on the move requires you to be emotionally adjusted. Being on the move makes you realise you have never had a particular place where you call home, and you can just buy tons of housing decorations without wondering what to do with them when you move again, at least for the next many years. Being on the move requires financial support, if you are to hold a limited passport. Being on the move means you cannot promise to make a work contract for years. Let’s not talk much about what being on the move might affect to your relationships, I guess, we are all somehow aware of that price.

I laugh away, because still, being on the move is my very important dream. To imagine me forgetting it, is scary. To think about the things I cannot have in exchange for what I am passionate about, is challenging, (hell, many times, really challenging); but yet satisfying. It reminds me of my ‘coreness‘. All the places construct the very present me. I know that my future me will be even more evolving with new places I will be in.

I guess, my very main message is that even if I am seen as living my dream, I may not have every ingredients to make a perfect life; the same for everyone else and every other situations. Food for thought (?): nothing in life can be in total perfection.

I don’t know if I will ever have stable feet. But I know I have no desire to find out anytime soon.

Last month of the year, seems like the time to write again.

Autumn, third one in the list of seasons: spring – summer – autumn – winter; makes us feel like new chapters usually happen in spring when new years start, and summer is when we free us from attachment and “let’s have all the unforgettable memories“;

autumn should be when things are slowly getting quiet before winter comes with its beautiful coldness. But somehow, Autumn always carries within it lots of chaos and changes. In reality, autumn is when schools start again, new classes, new groups, new friends, new parties, new jobs; or turning back to old jobs with few new faces, and turning back to old unfinished things we put off during summer, facing back to problems we cannot run away as we are adults. Adults are stuck. Adults cannot always escape. Adults should know life does not hand out the permanent luxury to hide in comfort. 

So this Autumn, as everyone else, I simply had to attempt being an adult again. 

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I returned to the place I ran away from.

Honestly, it was not a moment of glorious recognition motivating me to decide for returning. I returned because my plan B for staying in Europe worked, despite it being done at very last-minute. As every newly University graduated students, plus under-graduated ones in their last years (okay perhaps not every single ones then), I could not be more unsure of the next step. It was neither because I did not try to think of any plans during my school years, nor because I was really irresponsible for my future. I had plans. Some plans were dreams I nurtured ever since I was a little girl. Some plans I did not even recall how I had them in the first place, but I knew I wanted them. They looked so hopeful and shining in my imagination when they come true.

But plans broke. Life changes every time you plan something, even with little things daily. The first thing appeared in my head almost every time my plans got erased away, is:

“People plan, God laughs”

Seemingly, I am not the only one realising this. I am certain I am not telling you anything you have not yet known. I reckoned I might have ben a little too hopeful to be late in realising how unpredictable one’s life can be. And that’s how, being alive is definitely a bless, but also, one hell of a challenge.

As you can guess at this time, I have stopped planning, at least planning “the big plans“. As ironic as my life can be to me, even the small details I plan daily are as unpredictable as the big ones, and perhaps only little less disappointing. You know, I assume one of the big reasons for me  to yet being disappointed at the plans not working out, is due to my planned-out upbringing. I thought my journey to my dream started when I shipped myself off to another continent (with my parents’ help, of course). I didn’t know such milestone might have been only 5 bricks on the very first wall I had to pass, before my journey can be activated. I don’t know how many bricks I have broken through already. I do know the two things so-called “my journey” and “my dream” are evaporating though.

I didn’t get a tiny bit closer to getting a stable job after graduation. That was my original plan when I was on the plane the very first time. During my University years, surprisingly, I was much less sure than that 17 year-old girl who was about to be on her own, for also the very first time. At my last year in University, admittedly, “my journey” and “my dream” were dissolved into liquid form. Then, with the Finnish winter assistance, it must have been frozen because I kept slipping off, and fell on my bottoms (not so metaphorically). Without jobs or any solid plans, my time in Europe can become a ticking bomb. I didn’t, and in fact, still don’t want to return to my home country. I know I am making this option sound more melodramatic than it is. Returning home, perhaps a little bit strange with the changes, but how can it be so bad to be back with your culture and your family? you might think, or some of my friends have said.

I agree. But I myself cannot wrap my head around it, as if I am trying to fit a cube into a circle. It will be closer to my family, which is the only benefit I can actually see from this option. I know I cannot live with them anymore, in the same house. I have lost touch with many friends ever since I left; it was partly my fault but also partly due to the natural way of living, you lose touch when you don’t have anything in common to talk about. Deep down, I know, it would cause me a lot of patience, effort and adaptation to fit back to the society and culture there; which are the things I am unsure they are worth my energy.

So, in my last year in University, I knew two things absolutely for sure: I had to finish this thesis and I had to stay in Europe.

At last panic minutes, with my determination and worries, I applied for Master Degree. I got in.

Continue reading “Last month of the year, seems like the time to write again.”