2011: The Other Side of Happy

Happy New Year Everyone!

This blog has been witness to the past few years of my life, years that have been nothing short of crazy - from jumping off buildings, backpacking across three countries in ten days with four awesome friends, flashpacking cross-country for two weeks with 11-hour bus rides, amazing temples, dazzling sunsets, quaint ancient towns, and being offered a baby in between, to braving a communist attack to experience snow and K-Pop (hahaha). Every year of my twenty-something life so far has probably been characterized by a hunger to explore, to seek adventure, to live, in the craziest, most daring sense of the word - as the cliche goes, to live as if every day was the last. I guess it's a common attitude when you hit your 20's - for the first time in your life, the world is truly at your feet, a horizon of seemingly endless possibility laid out in front of you, so what else is there to do but grab life by the balls and spend every waking moment as if it were an adventure? So I did.

Of course, being in your early 20's isn't exactly a walk in the park. More often than I'd like to remember, the period of my early 20's was laced with twenty-something angst - a distinct kind of angst that can perhaps be attributed to that dreaded quarter-life crisis. What am I really doing with my life, is this what I really want, etc., etc. In not so many words, an existential drama.

Overall, putting together the overwhelming sense of freedom and possibility with the bitterness and confusion of an existential crisis made for some really amazing, albeit crazy years - exhilarating to the point of insane sometimes, exciting beyond words, but always with a hint of a question in the back of my mind: are you always going to want the adrenaline rush to cover up the angst? Are you always going to be on the move, never settling for one place, always wanting to go somewhere and never appreciating enough where you are? It's not unlike the feeling I got when I did that bungee jump, that "Holy shit, I really freaking did that, I really freaking jumped!" followed by "Well, now what? You can't be jumping off buildings every time just to feel alive".

I think what I took for granted in my early 20's was this - contentment. Understandable, given the situation, the life stage. At 20 or 21, fresh from college, starting out in the real world, there's hardly any room to be content or fulfilled, because there's just so much to do, so much to accomplish, so much to experience, so much life to live. It was easy to forget that "living" sometimes also meant taking a step back to be thankful and content.

But in 2011, I finally did.

If I were to describe the year that was and how I felt throughout it, I'd say I was generally pleased, in the simplest sense, happy. Content, as it were.

It isn't that I wasn't happy before - I was! There was so much going on, so much I had done, so much I had experienced, it all gave me a sense of fulfillment. And it isn't that every moment of the past year had been joyful either - lots of things, both good and bad, still happened along the way. My new job, though pretty amazing, wasn't devoid of challenges. This year, we also lost a very important member of our family. But I was able to overcome those challenges, and grieve about our family's loss, in between the moments when life was fairly simple and uncomplicated, when weekends were weekends, and work was work, and outside of that was time for myself, my friends and family. For once, after a really long time, life wasn't driven by a need to succeed, a need to prove something, a need to be excited and exhilarated. For once, it was just about being content.

It amazes me now, how it took me an entire year to figure out. All throughout 2011 I had wondered what was different, what had changed, and now maybe it's a little clearer: maybe the thing about 2011 is, it's the year I learned about the other side of happiness - the one about contentment.

Oh gosh, I meant to just write about my travels this year, and here I am rambling on about some existential epiphany, if you could even call it that. My apologies, I guess I'm merging my personal year-end post with my year-end travel post this year, because I honestly can't be bothered to update my personal blog anymore, which I have effectively not posted on for exactly a year (my last post in there was my "farewell 2010 entry"). Anyway, I leave you with some of my favorite travel pictures from the year that was - as I had hinted at above, no crazy bungee jumping photos this time around, although I did learn to surf this year, and did some pretty intense shopping in Singapore from all my business trips, and in Thailand too. I guess in travel terms, this year felt a lot like one long, extended beach trip - not a lot of adrenaline, but a whole lot of chillin'.

Um, yeah, that was kind of lame. And it rhymed too, oh gosh.

I do miss the crazy of years past though, to be honest. I think 2012 will have a load of that. Maybe striking a balance between the crazy and the content is my resolution for 2012. Sounds like a plan, yes?

Also! To the people that made 2011 such an amazing, HAPPY year, you guys know who you are - here's to you, and have a great year ahead!


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