Yessss, this is it.
I’ve booked my #SOLOYOLO trip for the year. Heading up to Vancouver next month, and hoping to make a side trip to the USA to catch the total solar eclipse.
I have been eyeballing this eclipse for years.
But honestly, I dawdled making the booking for many reasons.
1. Air ticket price. ($2106 on Cathay Pacific Airways is just, ouch.)
2. Another cousin couldn’t make it. And I was hesitant on making the long trip there on my own.
Actually, the air ticket price fell many times this year to $1790 and I had many chances to book. But reason number 2 was holding me back.
Granted, I took a trip to Hong Kong last year and I was going solo 50% of the time. I really liked exploring places on my own in a city I really loved. And there’s something about travelling alone that is really liberating.
Own time own target. (I can set my own pace. And pace is very important to me because my energy levels are very limited.)
Loads of self-discovery. Every experience alone reinforces what I like and what I don’t, what excites me and what doesn’t. I don’t usually reflect much on these thoughts when I’m with other people because distractions, and people sometimes alter the experience.
Feeling of independence. Enough said. Why company is always nice, I also enjoy doing things alone.
But Hong Kong is only 4 hours away. And Vancouver, 16 hours excluding transit time.
I’ll be far away from home.
But then again, both are cities that are somewhat familiar to me. And I’d be staying at a cousin’s place anyway so I’ll still have company.
When the price dropped to $1690 last weekend, it was a sign.
So I made the booking.
Now, to settle the eclipse portion of the trip and get rid of the butterflies that have started to form in my stomach.
Read an article about how our seemingly incessant consumption of clothing has led to potential environmental destruction, with unwanted clothes piling up in landfills.
Fast fashion, and clothing made with polyester and other manmade fibers (because it’s cheaper) seem to be the largest culprits. The former because their low costs had led people to buy more and in turn, throw away more. The latter, because it’s not biodegradable.
I looked up at my overflowing wardrobe and thought, oops.
Recently, I made the switch to preferring pure cotton for my clothing items, but only because it’s more comfortable given the heat in Singapore. Looks like I have an additional reason to add to that list.
So this year, I’ve decided to be more discerning about what I buy. It’s easy to get tempted especially with Instagram style pictures and online stores being just a tap away, but this is well worth a try.
The rod in my wardrobe broke from the sheer amount of clothing I owned back in 2015. That’s how bad it was. This will save me loads from what I don’t buy, as well as unnecessary repair costs.
To some extent, I’m already picky about the brands I choose to support (mainly because of their consistently good quality), so I guess I have some advantage there.
Now it’s more of to buy or not to buy?
That’s where it gets helpful for me to list down what do I exactly look out for in a piece of clothing that is expected to be timeless and last me for several years.
So, here’s the checklist I shall refer to from now on.
1. Must have pockets.
2. Must be easy to match.
3. Must be lightweight yet durable.
This is a struggle, because it’s impossible to gauge this when buying online. So I pay attention to the material type, and purchase only certain tried and tested brands online.
4. Must be able to cover the knees.
I wear knee guards because of regular joint pain from my illness. Anything that does not cover them ends up having very little mileage.
5. Must be something I will definitely wear.
If there’s even the slightest doubt about “is this something that I will wear?”, don’t buy it.
Let’s see how this pans out. On top of my consistent clearing of stuff that had very little mileage (read: rarely wear) on Carousell, this is a large step towards less clutter.
This is the turning point. It will have to be.
I originally thought 2013 will be a much better year. It turned out to be much worse than 2012, and perhaps the second worst in my entire life. Sure, there were great moments here and there – travelling overseas and being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding. But on the whole, 2013 was just … bad.
And there is no one to blame other than myself.
Losing my grandmother in April brought me down. Way, way down. During her death and the subsequent funeral, I was basically expressionless, numb to everything that was going on around me. Not because I wasn’t close to her, but because I was in shock. And everything happened too fast.
Prior to her death, I only knew she had stage 4 cancer 5 days before.
And I hated myself for it. Chinese New Year 2013 turned out to be the last ever Chinese New Year I would ever have with her. And what was I doing then? I WENT HOME early during the festivities at her place because I had a client deadline to meet, and I actually put my client deadline as a higher priority over Chinese New Year with her and my extended family. What the fuck was I doing?
And even while I was physically there, mentally I wasn’t. My mind was someplace else. Even when I was speaking to my cousins, I was basically bitching about how I have stuff to do at home, as if my work was more important than all of them combined.
But seriously, even if she turned out to be well this year, it shouldn’t have made a difference. Must someone come down with cancer before I realize that I should be spending more time with him/her?!
It’s a bloody huge wake up call. I’ve made some horrible decisions which I’m still bitter about until today.
It was this year when I realized my priorities were wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
It was only after my grandmother’s death when I began to evaluate my own life more closely, and I realized I have not been treasuring the people around me enough. How many times have I turned someone down for dinner or a weekend out because I wanted to do my work? Way too many times.
Meeting my extended family at my grandmother’s place used to be a weekly affair. How many times have I gone there last year and this year? Apart from Chinese New Year, zilch.
How many times have I promised to have dinner with my parents only to have my coding work overrun (usually due to bad time management and over-zealousness, like starting a new task at 6pm) and end up cancelling, promising to have dinner with them “next time”? I have lost count.
Here’s me announcing on Facebook in 2011 that I won’t be free for an entire month because I had stuff I wanted to do.
And here’s another status update from last year when I mentioned that I’ll be missing my grandmother’s birthday because I couldn’t finish what I had sought to do for the day.
That turned out to be her LAST BIRTHDAY.
Seriously. What was I thinking? Has my workaholism blinded me to the fact that other people exist?
Ironically, I started becoming extra-paranoid that I might lose anyone at anytime. In fact, I started to worry about every single damned thing.
When my favourite cousin flew to Vancouver, I was left there wondering whether the airport send-off be the last time I see him. When any of my parents go to the dentist/sees a doctor for any reason, whatsoever, I’d be worrying up a storm. Worry, worry, worry – that was what I kept doing.
Health-wise, it’s been major roller-coaster ride which hasn’t yet ended.
(At this point, let me pause to add a little disclaimer: Cousins and relatives, after reading from here on – please do not approach my parents with questions. I just want to be left alone. Thanks.)
I have a chronic autoimmune illness which went into remission early last year after I painstakingly fought it for a year and a half since late 2010. It relapsed early this year after a bad bout of flu, brought upon by an entire week of late-nights to meet a client deadline (same old story). Needless to say, my immune system into a decline for the rest of the year and since then, it’s been a never ending cycle of falling sick – getting well (briefly) and falling sick all over again.
Being someone who has had chronic illnesses since 2008, I should be no stranger to “pacing myself” and “taking rests were necessary” by now.
Apparently not. I still went at full force. It was only from the later part of this year where I started to slow down a little – but somehow, my immune system just wasn’t holding up even with my slower pace.
Recently, faced with a couple of spotty lung x-rays and abnormal blood test results, I am now at a point where I realize I may have just done irreversible damage to myself.
I always pride myself in loving what I do. Even today, I remain just as passionate for entrepreneurship, the start-up scene, and what I do in general – which is a myriad of writing code, designing, web marketing, giving talks about gamification – all the things I love.
Whenever anyone asked me whether I was “undergoing stress”, my answer was usually a straight-out no. And I wasn’t lying. I actually enjoyed it.
But still, there is still something called “overdoing it”. Passion can be a silent killer that blinds you from reality, and you don’t realize that you’ve overstepped the mark until you get hit from behind.
And from the looks of it, I’ve overstepped the limit.
2013. It was a huge (probably, much needed) emotional, physical and mental jolt. The cumulative effect of everything that has happened this year has drained me entirely. I’ve lost all motivation for everything. What I love to do, suddenly doesn’t seem as appealing. I’m just completely demoralized at how I’ve just lost complete control of everything – my own health included, which I cannot stop worrying for right now. I’m just so angry at what I’ve done.
Yet somehow, I’m rather amazed at how I can still put on a close-to-normal front when facing other people. Although from the looks of my recent Facebook posts and this blog entry, that facade is fast disappearing.
I have to start re-evaluating my priorities.
I love my work. But I also love my family, my friends and myself.
2013 has taught me way too much:
1. About the importance of treasuring the people I have around me and not take it for granted that they will always be there.
2. That if I lose my own health, I basically have nothing. And it WILL be a long struggle back up.
I used to think I was superwoman, or an “Energizer Bunny” – a nickname given to me by many people. But today, I know who I am. I’m a human being. And like everyone else, I am not infallible.
I will bounce back eventually. I’m certain about that. The only thing I’m not certain about is when.
As for 2014, I only have one resolution right now. To stay alive, and to live as if 2014 will be my last year on Earth. (Okay, that’s two resolutions.)