- December 30, 2018
- Denise Lee
This year has been a roller coaster, to say the least. And I know that I say this every year but 2018 really flew by in a flash. I wasn’t planning to write anything to wrap up the year simply because I’ve been missing in action for a long time and I really wanted to leave it that way. But life had other plans so I felt that tug at (you guessed it) some ungodly hour so here it is. My year in words.
This year was a huge step up for me at work. It started with my team handling one of the biggest bids in Malaysia (which we won but subsequently lost due to the change in government – the project being postponed but we shall see) and then travelling all the way to the UK as my inaugural work trip to launch our brand at a new subsidiary company. It’s been crazy as the team has also expanded exponentially with more projects to tackle and even more in the new year. While work is consistently stressful, I am grateful that I am in a position that allows me to grow professionally. It keeps me on my toes all the time!
What I am extra thankful for though, are my bosses. We all go to the same church and connect group which makes our relationships slightly strange but I love how we can always depend on, and pray for and one another when work gets difficult.
Honestly, this year was tough. God has really stretched me in uncomfortable ways. He has brought me through really difficult situations and taught me humility, patience and the ability to (keyword: try) bless my enemies instead of cussing at them under my breath. You see, my biggest pet peeve is inconsiderate and incompetent people. When it comes to matters of the heart, I have a very low tolerance for people who fit into these two categories and I normally just snub them off. So this year, God really brought me through a roller coaster to soften my heart towards people. It’s still a work in progress but hey, we all have to start somewhere.
For those of you who don’t know, I also volunteer for the children’s ministry in church. Let me tell you, dealing with children and being naturally an impatient person, it really does humble you. But these little ones have opened my eyes. They will do all kinds of insane things to get on your nerve but you just have to bite the bullet and show them love. And I really do love being a part of their lives, even though it’s one Sunday a month. They did a little Christmas nativity at the beginning of December (they’ve been practising for over 3 months) and let me tell you I was as proud as a mother goose. As I am now promoted to the adult category, it’s so easy to just let the stresses of life overtake everything. Spending time with CHTBB has reminded me of how we often forget about how big God is. Children just see God as He is. They don’t complicate things and they forgive so easily. I love that every time I serve, God reminds me of this innocence and gives me the heart of a child.
As with all things, my family has also evolved this year. Well, I say evolve but that might be a slight exaggeration. It really hit me hard this year that my brothers were really all grown up and they weren’t the little rascals I used to love and fight with all the time growing up. I am fiercely protective of them because oldest sibling things but when Derek left for Edinburgh in September I was just like, “Wow, I’m old. I literally just came back from Sheffield and here he is, going on to do his masters?!” Yes, I am aware that 2015 wasn’t yesterday but how did 3 years just go by in a blink? And my parents, well, I started noticing wrinkles that were never there before. This hit me even harder. I’ve never explicitly written this down before but my dad does dialysis 3 times a week and it was a huge adjustment for my family since 2016. While he is doing very well by the grace of God, it’s just a looming reminder that life is so fragile and you’ll never know what is going to happen next. My mum has been so sacrificial over the years but even more so since my dad got sick so this year, watching her go on holiday has brought me so much joy. We even went to Thailand together before Christmas, and that was special since we hardly get to go on holiday as a family. They’re the most supportive parents and I am so lucky to have two people who give so much even when they had so little when I was growing up. This such a selfish thought because I know that they can’t keep living forever but can’t I at least have them around until I’m 85? Is that too much to ask?
Ever since leaving university it’s been hard to make and keep new friends. Old friends dwindle away with time because no one really puts in the effort and so we drift apart. No biggie, it’s a matter of life. Ironically people always label me as the “extrovert” but in reality, I don’t actually have that many friends left that I am truly close to. Apart from my colleagues whom I see everyday or my Connect Group that meets every Tuesday, I usually spend my weekends at home by myself. Not that I’m complaining but it’s so interesting that my lack of human interaction has turned me into a homebody. After spending so many years as a teenager trying to force “lifelong friendships” which ended up with me being backstabbed or ignored for no good reason, I am so at peace with only having a handful of friends. I can count how many there are with my fingers. We don’t meet all the time but these intermittent meetups have done wonders for me because it’s become very obvious that the people who care about you will make time for you and those that don’t just won’t. And that’s okay. You don’t need a million people to make you happy. Just a few are enough. Besides, not going out helps me save money, and bonus, I get to spend more time with my parents at home!
Another year of singleness but I have never been happier. I always joke that it’s time for me to find a boyfriend because I’m not getting any younger (lol). It’s a harsh world out there because the media keeps tellings us that we need love to be complete. There’s a strange stigma when it comes to singleness and for the longest time growing up, I always felt like that there was something fundamentally wrong with me whenever I found myself in a position of being single or having the guys I liked not liking me back. I kept getting told that meeting a girl who seemed “mysterious” was far more exciting than the loud, outspoken and funny me. Well, to hell with that bullshit because God has constantly reminded me that I am complete and whole with or without a boyfriend. Every time a boy broke my heart, I would tell myself “this is the last time and I swear I will remain single” which obviously lasted about two seconds because I always found someone else to crush on (lol). After the incident in January 2017, I have spent the last two years of really not giving a
fuck about what anyone thought and this complete release has left me feeling so whole and quite honestly, I cannot be bothered to look for love. I now understand what people mean when they say that God will bring the right person at the right time. And until then, I will continue to learn to love myself even more. I refuse to waste any more time on boys who cannot and will not love me the way God intended for me to be loved.
Towards the third quarter of the year, I really took a step back from life in general. I felt really lost about everything and it was so frustrating. Not knowing about the future really bothered me and with a new chapter on the way, I was just left in a muddle, which in turn led to several meltdowns. I stopped feeling inspired, I stopped writing, I stopped posting on Instagram, I stopped everything (except Buzzfeed and YouTube cause girl needs entertainment yo). I just receded into this “minimalist” phase. Most of my free time was spent Googling about how to live more simply with less so that I could learn to be happier with life. So many of my hours were spent on methodologically getting rid of all the toxicity in my life. I went on a purge by getting rid of some people on Facebook and blocking others on Instagram; I cleared out my things and threw away everything that did not contain happy memories for me; I even used the Konmari method to clean my wardrobe – my underwear is now folded in a specific manner and let me tell you, Marie Kondo was right. It brings you so much joy! Sounds like I went crazy but it was just what I needed. It’s so weird that my getting sick with social media triggered this entire process of sorting my life out. After not posting anything for a solid two months or so, I have since started using social media again but rather than feel this sense of dread every time I watch anyone’s InstaStories, I just feel happy for the people in them instead.
This year I have been so blindsided by the craziness of life that I constantly felt drained and mentally exhausted. But God is good. I have grown into a better version of myself – or at least I hope I did. There’s no point going through fire if you’re not refined after you escape it.
This year, I have learned to live more purposefully, to waste less, to care more, to feel more grateful, to be more gracious and to try being a bit more patient with the people around me. It’s so hard not honking at another car that has clearly done something wrong. Live and let live, I say. And don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
But there’s still so much to learn. So thank you, 2018 for being the year that humbled me but I’ve got a lot more stretching to do in 2019.