Penang | December 2021

I make a point to write a post at the end of every December to reflect on the past year. And like clockwork, my brain just begins the process of filtering through memories from the last 12 months. But this year hits different somehow. I can’t quite remember where 2020 ended and where 2021 began — granted I did write a reflection for 2020. Perhaps in the chaos of my personal life, I never really felt the effects of the pandemic until maybe April this year? Even then, I think I did not have it as bad as most people. God’s grace really got me through some of the worst days of my existence and the fact that I’m still here today is a testament of His love, truly.

This year was about re-learning to take control — of my life, my health, my relationships. I’ve had to re-evaluate a lot of the things that I thought to be important. I’ve had to draw lines to protect myself and my sanity. I’ve had to step out in faith, literally into the unknown and see where my feet would land. It definitely was not as turbulent as 2019 and 2020 but the year came with its own challenges. Despite scrolling through all the pictures and archived Instagram Stories on my phone, some things are foggy. Perhaps sometimes, these things are best forgotten.

I’ll admit, this year was really trying as I navigated my new season. I met new people and reconnected with some old ones but alas, I just could not bring myself to lower my walls. The pain from having my heart broken over and over again made me so acutely aware of the tiniest red flags that I knew I could not and would not tolerate. I am not the same naive person I was and I knew that my love was to be earned, not given away like freebies in the grocery store. There were so many people who looked good on paper but then failed miserably in the intrapersonal skills department. One got possessive way too early. Another gave me regifted brownies and complained for an hour about how expensive groceries were. When confronted, he tried to convince me that he was rich and that money was not an issue because he could give me (a few loose pieces of) Patchi chocolates. Clearly he has no clue about the kind of person I am. Needless to say, both of them did not end well. Then there was one who told me that his ex-girlfriend was like family to him because they dated for 8 years. You bet I fled like the wind because I was not about to experience C2.0 in this lifetime. I have had enough. So if you were wondering, I’ve kind of given up in this department. Which leads me to my new revelation — all individuals from the opposite gender will henceforth be classified as a boy until or unless he can prove to me that he’s a man. Yo’ girl is pretty fed up so some standards can no longer be lowered ya.

Credit: @iamstardeshay

This year has also been challenging as I had to navigate friendships, both new and old. Although painful, I think the breakup was much needed for my personal growth. I’ve really become sensitive to the way people treat me. I’ve had to make really difficult decisions this year but after much consideration, I’ve come to realise that some things cannot be salvaged. One can be kind and show grace but a line needs to be drawn so that one does not become a doormat. Friendship is a two-way street, and like all relationships, one should not be the only party to initiate conversation or meet-ups. I learned this year that the years mean nothing if it’s one-sided and even more so if a person is so easily replaceable. I think it’s also important to note that on rare occasions, your gut feeling about someone is probably there to help you make the right decisions. So it’s okay to say goodbye to people who don’t appreciate you and people who attack your integrity and character by sharing your personal stories (that you trusted them with) with others. You don’t need people like that in your life. It’s important to create healthy boundaries and it’s totally okay to only have a few close ones that you trust. I am so over the high school drama kind of friendships, seriously, I’m almost 30!

Earlier this year, or rather right before Christmas last year, I actually auditioned to be a spin instructor at Ministry of Burn and PASSED but unfortunately, the pandemic caused them to shut their doors. It may seem like such a small achievement in the grand scheme of everything else that has happened this year but I was and still am so proud of myself for trying something completely out of my comfort zone. This small feat coupled with my love of boxing at Tribe awoke something in me that was pretty dormant for my whole life — I now do strength and weight training with a Personal Trainer. Yes, I now wake up early to exercise regularly and actually enjoy it. Watching my body get stronger with each additional kilogram and how my muscles are changing are reminders that I can do anything I put my mind to. But don’t get your hopes up. I still hate hiking. Some things just don’t change. HAHAHA! I think this is a milestone worth noting because growing up, I always thought that people in their 20s were at the peak of health and everything would just fall into place. Oh, how naive 10-year-old Denise was. Let me just say that body aches do indeed start from your mid to late 20s. Not when you’re 40. So don’t take your youth for granted and start taking care of your body now. Don’t wait for new year resolutions, trust me.

On the work front, things have taken a turn — in a good way. The lockdown affected some of my projects and many were on hold for months. Things were really unpredictable and to be honest, I was also bored out of my mind. So, I decided to apply to random positions I found on LinkedIn. I didn’t really expect much because usually, nobody responds, or at least not in my experience. Low and behold, God had different plans for me and I’m back to the minion life in a GLC. Believe me when I say that it’s been scary and exciting all at the same time. I can’t believe that I get to do what I do every day and it’s just been such a blessing to have a new perspective, new colleagues and new experiences. Work has taken me to places that I have missed so much and seeing the beautiful skies every time I look up, makes me want to well up in tears because it’s wonderful how God just leads you to things you never thought or dreamed of. Doesn’t hurt that the benefits are pretty sweet too.

As the year comes to a close, I look back and see how much I’ve grown. It hits differently when you learn to truly let God be in the driver’s seat. For so long I was spiralling out of control, waiting for someone to save me only to learn the hard way that in the end, only God can. But you have to let Him. God can turn things around, make everything work out for good and surprise you in ways you cannot even comprehend.

This song was my anthem in 2020 and remains so this year. His promises have not failed me yet and I am confident that He never will. I have had 3 years of having to be refined by fire and while I know that each new year comes with its challenges, I know that I don’t have to fear the future. He has taken care of the big and little things. I’m okay to let things that are not meant to be in my life go because He has the best plan.

I put my faith in Jesus
My anchor to the ground
My hope and firm foundation
He’ll never let me down
– Promises, Maverick City

So to close the year, I pray that the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace in 2022.
Happy New Year, you. 

Luv, Nise