18 Lessons from 2018


Musings / Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

“Listicles are the worst. They are for lazy writers.”

My friend quipped. He has always been a straight shooter, and I believe the longevity of our friendship lay in my appreciation for his no-holds-barred candour and in his boldness in plainly but kindly pointing out the flaws in me.

A listicle is essentially a list, written in the form of an article. While I do not entirely agree with my frank friend, I understand the merits of his opinion. I did not press him for his reasons, but I’d hazard a guess that perhaps a Listicle, to him, is less impressive than an article written in full prose, much like the ones you see in (quality) newspapers.

I’m on the fence about this – there are pros and cons and I can be swayed either way.

Listicles appear to be incredibly popular among modern day online writers and readers alike. (I claim to be no expert on this; I neither studied Literature, Pop Culture nor Writing. This is merely my uninformed view.) The reasons for this, to me, are clear – for writers, it makes for easy articulation of messages, and for readers, easy digestion of the writer’s message.

The consumption habits of the written word has also largely contributed to the popularity of the Listicle. As a reader, I am flooded with a deluge of articles, videos and advertisements from every inch of my laptop and handphone. Whenever a Listicle catches my eye (usually paired with a click baity title; go figure), I’m hard pressed for time and attention.

Do I really want to carve out 20 minutes of my already too packed a day to read this 1, 000 word prose? Unless it’s a riveting novel or paid work, the answer is a firm no.

Hence, a Listicle makes for easy reading as I can gloss through the piece and quickly glean the main points of article. Within minutes, I walk away with the golden pieces of information that the writer wanted to bless / educate / bait me with (How to Lose 10 pounds in 5 Days, 10 Exotic Beaches You MUST Visit, Say THIS and He Will Marry You).

That said, with the new year upon us, I thought it would be apt to reflect (and what better way than in the form of a Listicle, yay!), the lessons I’ve learnt from 2018.

I’m articulating my reflections, to arrange my thoughts and to serve as a reminder to myself in 2019 to not repeat the same mistakes from 2018. This post might also be useful to anyone who is in a similar position that I is/was in. (This is most likely to be the case, as while we feel unique in our problems and circumstances, more often than not, most truths and life lessons are universal and can be applied more or less across the board. This is also why astrology and personality etc. readings can seem suitable/spot on for so many different types of people. Just my humble opinion, which you can take with a pinch of salt).

Pearl’s 18 Lessons from 2018

Some of these lessons may be self-evident, but, for me, they bear repeating and reinforcing.

#1: Practice self-love. Stop hating on yourself or your life. A large part of the self-hate can come from the comparisons that you inevitably tend to make with others. Consciously remind yourself that you are worthy of love and respect, and you should not harbour any self-defeating thoughts! If you fail at something, that’s perfectly OK. Reflect on how and why you failed, pick yourself up and move on. Find time for yourself – to pamper and nourish your soul and your body.

#2: Don’t expect kindness and understanding from those that gossip about others in front of you, and feel completely at ease doing so. Gossip is passé, and while Mean Girls, released in 2004, has survived the passage of time and remains today as an iconic part of pop culture (see Ariana Grande’s thank u, next music video), gossip is NOT. The truth is, if they are comfortable with gossiping about others with you, then they are equally as comfortable gossiping about YOU to OTHERS. There is, of course, a fine line between gossiping and confiding in a confidante. Try your best to not engage in mindless gossip.

#3: Do not let other opinions colour yours. In the same vein, rumour mills breed gossip that may not be the truth. Inevitably, your friend’s gossip of another person, may subconsciously stain your view of that person even before you’ve met him or her. Suspend judgment, interact with that person with an open mind, before coming to a conclusion. Often, the gossiper reveals much more about himself/herself than the person gossiped about.

#4: No one owes you anything. Unless it is a transaction, quid pro quo, your hard work, romantic feelings or kindness, may not be recognised or reciprocated. That said, the onus is on you to live life with the sprit of excellence. Being sidelined, rejected and ignored is painful, disappointing and discouraging. Trust me, I’ve been there several times and it isn’t pretty. Your hard work at work may not be recognised, but you should not cut corners and compromise values such as integrity, honesty, diligence, and consideration for others (though, you should also probably do something so that the powers that be will see/hear about your hard work). Your kindness may be misunderstood or exploited, but that does not give you a free pass to become a complete a** to others. You should always strive to do what is kind, even when being kind is not easy. As for romantic feelings that are not reciprocated, well, their loss.

#5: Not everyone is going to like you. And that is OK. There are seven billion people in this crowded world. No one person is alike. Of course you are going to step on some toes, or brush some off in the wrong way. Where there are genuinely serious character flaws that need to be addressed, reflect, learn and move on. You cannot please everyone, you are not a jar of Nutella.  (I got that from Instagram).

#6: Stay in your lane and be the best YOU can that you can ever be. When I was learning how to drive, my instructor told me that the staying in my lane was absolutely crucial. This is a lesson that I have applied to my life. Unless it is a loved one seeking for your help and advice, or in clear need of an intervention, mind your own business. No one owes anyone an explanation for their lifestyle, choices or decisions. Yes, sometimes people may make decisions that disagree with your values, or seem incredibly absurd. But, everyone is fighting a battle that you might not know anything about. Do not speculate, or again, engage in meaningless gossip. Instead, focus on yourself – how can you be a better daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, dog mom? If your friend needs help, offer your support but do not be intrusive.

#7: Be ready to let go of relationships (romantic and platonic) that were once beautiful, but are no longer so. The only constant in life is change. This means that people, feelings, and circumstances change. Your best friend when you were in school may not be the same person that you know or remember (Also, note that we tend to romanticise memories; our memories are flawed, hence that friendship may not have been as wonderful as you imperfectly remember it to be). A friend that you STILL hold dear may NO LONGER feel the same about you, or put in the same amount of effort in maintaining the friendship. He or she may now have values and priorities that differ from yours. That is all OK. Send them your love, hug, and regards, leave your door open for them, they are welcome to enter when they wish, but do not overstay your welcome in their lives. And, if you have done your best in preserving the relationship, do NOT beat yourself up for the end of the relationship. Sometimes, you have to let go to be free to receive better.

#8: Sleep for at least 8 hours a day.  You are not getting any younger, and the age is showing. You need sleep so you can function properly in the day. Staying up late is no longer cool. Resist the temptation to while your night away on your phone.

#9: Read as many books as you can. Reading is to the mind as exercise is to the body. There is wisdom to be gleaned from books. As a student, I used to read several books a year, voraciously slurping up any thing I could lay my grubby hands on. This is before Instagram, and before law school. “The more you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Suess. I wanted to read 12 books this year, one book per month, but I only managed to finish eight books (I read many other Listicles, and online material, but they do not count!). Of all the books I’ve read this year, my favourites include – Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Everything Happens for A Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler and This is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn. If you have good reads that you would like to recommend, please let me know!

#10: Treat your Mom well. Yes, you will fight, you will disagree. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve quarrelled with her. But she’s the only one I’ve got, and she’s the closest thing to unconditional love I will ever experience on this green earth.

#11: Show your family – your parents and your grandparents – how much you love them. Keep them updated about your life, drop them calls and surprise visits. They love you to pieces and want only the best for you. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t reserve your expressions of love solely for grand gestures on the Internet, or when they are gone. Love them in the simple, everyday.

#12: Do not compare with others. Comparison is the thief of joy! Turn your jealousy/envy into a motivating force for good. Instead of wallowing in self pity, be sincerely happy for your friend’s successes and find out how you can learn from them.

#13: Care less. Read all about it in The Subtle Art of Not Giving A  F***. Dubious title, but solid content.

#14: Less is more. Do not buy clothes, shoes, or bags that you do not need. Consume less! As a teenage girl, I used to take pride in boasting a large wardrobe, filled with pieces of clothing that I thought would buy me social acceptance among my friends. Retail therapy won’t repair your damaged sense of self-worth. As I grew older, I felt bogged down by the sheer amount of clothing, shoes and bags I had. (I used to own 40 pairs of heels, and three-thirds of which were heels. While for some, this is a small number, for me, it was and still is too many pairs of heels. Honestly, I have only worn some of those heels once or twice.) I live in a modest home, and in a bid to decorate my room exactly as I wanted – clean and clutter free, I adopted the Kon Mari method of decluttering, only keeping the things that bring me joy. I sold, donated and gave away most that I owned. Even as someone who loves a #trendy #instacool look with the ability to have choice and variety with my dressing, I was not limited by my reduced wardrobe. Moving forward, I found myself becoming more selective in my shopping.

#15: Be grateful. You are surrounded by friends and family that love you. You have want for nothing.

#16: Eat your vegetables. It is good for you. I love broccoli, but I haven’t been very successful in converting the people around me. Your body will thank you two decades later.

#17: Halve your time on Instagram. Read my lengthy post on this point here.

#18: WORRY NOT. I am a worry wart, it is in my genes. My mom is a worry wart and I believe that inherited every bit of that paranoia from her. Worrying is an entirely futile endeavour – you cannot better your position in any manner and worrying about something that HAS YET TO HAPPEN will only cause you to suffer through the same pain TWICE should that event worried about occur. Of course, the best course of action would be to do everything in your ability to remedy the worry, but if you are powerless do effect any change, then worrying is a waste of time and emotions. While I am fully cognisant of this, I am still an irrational worrier. I worry about the silliest things (I would state examples but I am pantang). Yet, I’ve to remind myself that my thoughts can shape my reality, or at least, my perception of it. Depending on your personal beliefs on life, fate and destiny, life is what you make of it.

Life is full of lessons. You are free to make choices but you are not free from the consequences of those choices.

Here’s to a fulfilling new year of love and abundance!

Love,

Pearls

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