I scroll through the photos in my phone. I play the many videos saved — Snaps included — and a smile creeps onto my lips.
The period before the year ends is when I tend to become the most retrospective. I replay memories over and over in my head, but this time, I make an effort to see everything. It fascinates me how the littlest of things can change a person, how one opportunity can create better and brighter paths, and how sometimes all it takes is a simple commitment to saying “yes” to things that tug at the heart — no matter how frightening and unfamiliar they may be.
I call 2016 my year of big leaps. A couple of hours after the past New Year rang in, my then-boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said yes, because really – when the love of your life asks you to spend forever with him, there is no other answer.
Being in a long distance relationship means that fortunately (and at times unfortunately), a lot of travel is involved. An increase in travel and months spent outside of the country struck me as a sign that I had to make a few adjustments. One of them being that I had to leave the stability of a monthly paycheck. It just wouldn’t have been fair, for me nor the company.
But as folks would say, “when one door closes, another opens.” As I took a leap into unemployment, I said “yes” to turning my goals into a reality. I delved further into writing, honing my craft and increasing my vocabulary with every book I read. I bought a franchise and was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted in the process of getting it set up. I wanted to be knowledgeable in financial matters. So I read up on articles, studied trends, and took the reins on my husband’s financial assets.
I said “yes” to things that I was uncomfortable in and things that used to intimidate me, even when I knew deep in my heart that they were really just dreams waiting to be realized and put into action. What I’ve learned over the past months is that the bigger the dream, the steeper the climb. I remember taking risks only to have most of them fail horribly. I recall writing articles that I deemed some of my proudest pieces of work, only to delete everything afterward because it didn’t sound personally truthful.
And so I climbed. And I continue to climb until now. The only difference between the past and the present is that now, I appreciate the climb. This makes me feel that the hill isn’t as steep as it once was.
2016 saw me going from one place to another, both literally and figuratively. It was my most-traveled year and I’m both grateful and humbled when I see the amount of magnets on the refrigerator. It was the year I remastered driving stick, the year I found that Charades serve a purpose in areas where locals don’t speak English, and the year that I felt utter joy and not to mention unforgettable shivers whenever it would snow.
As I look back, I’m able to see my growth and the changes I’ve committed to. I’ve seen myself turn into a young wife, someone who now thinks of “we” instead of the usual only child syndrome of “me”. I’ve witnessed myself learn and be at awe with all the ins and outs of #adulting, such as apartment hunting and the managing of expenses and bank accounts. I’ve told myself not to waste all my travels by documenting them and by learning different languages — because really, no matter how brilliant Google Translate is, the abrupt disappearances of internet will always be more powerful.
I’ve taught myself the value of choosing happiness — even if at first it shows a scary mask. I’ve learned that fear is something innate, something that can be controlled, and something that shouldn’t be given the privilege of letting me miss out on all that the world has to offer and all that I want to become.
2016 is one of my best years, because finally, I was able to believe in me.
I scroll through the photos in my phone. I play the many videos saved — Snaps included — and a smile creeps onto my lips. I look at the girl looking back at me, the one who’s all smiles with a twinkle in her eye. And I think to myself, “I didn’t know you had it in you. Well done.”