2017.

Well, then. How do I sum up this year? …Long.

Please don’t over-interpret when I say “it was long”. I don’t mean that it was a bad year (aspects of it are far from it). But I know people always say “this year flew by!” “Can’t believe 2017 is over already” and I honestly don’t feel that way this year.

This year was long in the sense that a lot has happened – a lot more than I want to write in this one post. Aspects of it are extremely tiring. I bet many of you in the US share this feeling too. Recounting that Trump’s presidential inauguration was January 20th of THIS YEAR blows my mind. The thought tires me out, shocks me, and scares me simultaneously. I mean, has it really only been ONE year? and three more years till one presidential term is over? I’m not sure how much more turbulence I can handle. It’s not only the bills and orders from the government, but also natural disasters – hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, natural fires that burn on seemingly forever, many pictures of dying polar bears from warming weather, and other depressing and demotivating events – mass shootings, terrorist attacks, opioid crisis, etc.

At the end of the year (and almost every day throughout the year), I’m tired of seeing our entire society riding on an emotional roller coaster. A roller coast with Donald Trump as the driver and the news media as the operators. I’m tired seeing our society getting thrown into whirlwinds of emotions whenever there is a press release from the White House or wake up to a tweet from Trump. Knowing a fair amount of psychology from my studies and work, I’m tired of seeing the ways in which he uses techniques to pull and trigger people’s psychologies. Part of me feels helpless that I cannot do anything about it. Reactions to emotional words and actions are so immediate. It sets off a chain of reactions that are hard to be aware of, hard to stop, and hard to fight back. But the helplessness is overpowered by the endless continuity of it. After a few weeks of feeling helpless, I started to dread the continuous drag of it – just months after months of this roller coaster without any rest.

Perhaps to minimize the helplessness, I felt the need to do something about it. I set out to work on a project with the goal of improving the wide chasm between people. The 2016 election seemed to reveal that the US is more divided than we thought. Those within my social circle are surprised that we’ve left so many people behind – so many voices unheard. While this might be true, I also think that we are more similar than we think. We create, in our heads, a chasm that separate ourselves with others. But beneath it all, I believe we all share similar feelings and things can improve with better communication. In the coming months, I created events called Feeling the Polarization. The premise is to discuss emotions toward political topics. It’s not to talk about thoughts or arguments about a particular investigation or a policy proposal, but about feelings towards them and other political events. For example, “How does it make you feel knowing that the election was one year ago?” or “What were your main emotions when political topics come up among your families or friends?”

Admittedly, I haven’t moved forward with these events as much as I could have. Other things in life got in the way – moving cities, health issues, and a fast-moving relationship. More than anything, though, I think was a self-imposing barrier to push forward with this. I’m not sure why, but I am a little scared thinking about fully pushing these events, promoting them, or whatever. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but maybe it’s my introverted nature (semi-introverted), maybe it’s my upbringing as a female – whatever the reason might be, I am not at my 100% potential when I try to work on this event. Especially when it comes down to things that people have not done before, I get a little nervous, maybe a little lost. I get very affected by people’s comments on what I’m doing. When its good feedback (especially when people are surprised by how they feel or what they learned after attending the events), its great. But when people tell me it wouldn’t work? No, I don’t particularly feel like “oh, I’m on to something” as I hear many times founders feel when they hit on something that’s special. I know this is special. I know I have a better shot at helping this society than many other people out there. I know this will work. Psychology always does. But my voice is tiny right now. I can only muster enough courage to run events at several locations, with groups I’m familiar with. I hope in 2018, I can do better. To find out what is stopping myself and to “unleash my own potential”, to be cliché.

Speaking of being cliché, (yeah, if you’re my friend you’ve been waiting for this section), I’m ENGAGED!! On Christmas Eve (cliché), to the most perfect man for me (also cliché) after dating for less than a year (not cliché and maybe a little uneasy). I mean wow this is not what I expected to happen when we first started dating earlier this year! I still remember our phone call last December 31st/January 1st (he was in US, I was in HK). We were already so familiar with each other. We felt like we knew each other so well; that he was my best friend. Oh gosh – I’m gonna cry. I can’t pinpoint the moment when I knew I wanted to grow old with him…some time way early on (he says he knew in September…rationalizing that boys are dumber and realize these things slower than girls :P) but I did not expect it to happen so soon. We kind of discussed the idea of marriage – as a social construct and a life “to-do” that we don’t feel like we need to make a ceremony out of if we just want to be together, to love and to support each other. I guess he changed his mind, and I changed mine (after a bit of freak out). I’m a little out of whack right now since all I can think about these few days is how much I love him and how happy I am. (I’m glad I’m happy since I wasn’t sure how I would feel after saying yes haha). I guess the actual proposal story can be written somewhere else, but lets just say it was quite the emotional ride for him.

Things happened quickly with us. After our first meeting in mid-2016, we started “officially dating” a few days after 2017 started. We were in a long distance relationship for a large part of the year, making the effort to see each other in our respective coasts. We met each other’s friends, then family members, then parents. We traveled together and learned a lot about each other during long drives. We have incredible chemistry and extremely fun conversations. You’d be the third wheel who says “aww”, rolls your eyes, and want to punch us (sorry friends who have endured us this year…). We’ve been there for each other through back pains, neck pains, more back pains, to several doctor appointments and sleepless nights. (I’m not dying yet…I don’t want to scare my mom and dad lol). While this year might not have been all happy and jolly, I would not change any of it for the world. I certainly could not think of a better person to have spent this year with. In good times and bad; in sickness and health; and yaaadeee yadddee yadaaa stuff that I can actually understand when the priest announces.

So, yes, better stop here before I get all sappy and continue about my love life and feelings for another 10 pages. 2017 was great (it ended well, and according to my favorite peak-end theory, this predicts that I will remember 2017 as a good year). It was long and tiring, when I think of it in terms of news and politics and the world, but exciting and fulfilling, when I think of it in terms of my life – love and work-wise. I look forward to seeing what 2018 might bring!

xo

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