Blink and You Miss It

That was 2022 for me.

I could go on and write about my year in review, but instead, I will channel a friend and her series of “Shit I’ve Learned Recently,” and share this year’s lessons.

Life is better with cats. It has been years in the making! Brandon has grown up with cats and we wanted them for the longest time, but we weren’t able to have them because of the apartments we were in. We finally adopted the mother and daughter pair Bast and Isis in September 2021. As a first-time pet owner, it has been a lot of learning and adjustments for me in so many ways. But I have found there is no better joy than having all these warm little bodies piling up on you. Especially when your anxiety kicks in at night. They ARE the weighted blanket!

Cats can have asthma. Almost a year later after we got them, Isis was diagnosed with asthma. It had been quite an adventure for us, and a huge learning curve for me from pet care to emotional involvement. But she is worth it!

Smoking meat is both a science and an art. Earlier this year I wanted a grill, just a little one for the two of us. Then I got lost in the research and ended up learning a ton about a smoker/grill. Despite fully intending to get a small propane grill, I came home with a Pit Boss Pro. So I read a lot of blog posts and watched a ton of YouTube, and still had a lot to learn. (My StrengthFinder’s strenght is Input, clearly.)

The battles you do not see. I know people say that a lot but I got to experience a few people who have revealed their struggles to me and it was a complete surprise. And it also explained a lot. Like, a LOT. Witnessing a queer friend breaking down after hearing about the nightclub shooting in Colorado was a big one. Just because she looks like straight cis white woman to you, you’d think she has nothing to be upset about. I will write in details about that experience later on. But my point is that, I am trying to be more understanding of people and giving them grace as much as I can. (But sometimes I also have to say, fuck it, you’re an asshole. And that’s okay too!)

Adult friendships are hard. Duh. We all know this. I know this. (And I’m typing this just as I’m watching Frodo and Sam head into Mordor at the beginning of The Return of the King.) This year has been a particularly interesting journey as I lost some friends, made new ones, and learned to nurture those I already hold dear. I hope to do a better job this year.

But some people are meant to be in your life exactly when you need them. I was talking to Marcie about how we are now connected after years of “knowing” each other. That reconnection got us together with Anita to start The Asian Aunties, and we have all become great friends now even though we were traveling in the same circles for nearly 10 years.

These two lessons here are particularly hard for me, having grown up from K-11 with the same friends at Mater Dei School in Bangkok. Those friends are still friends now, 40 years later. For me, I believe friendship is a lifetime commitment. Adult friendship is different and finding someone you still talk to after 10 years is already considered a miracle. I am still learning that my Mater Dei friends are an anomaly and that I can’t expect a lifelong bond like that in adult friendship. But I can certainly try to make it work the best way I can.

Leadership may seem to come to me naturally, but it is also hard. Very hard. The bossy little girl has finally grown into her official power! Leadership is more than just organizing people and telling them what to do. I am learning a lot over most of this year since I became a manager of people. “People is your project now,” is what I was told and that is quite an adjustment for a doer like me. I’m continuing to adjust to that part of leadership, letting things go and delegating. It is a process I’m still going through right now and I don’t know if I would ever stop learning.

Differentiate when I’m “running away” from “self care.” Me emotionally running away is not new. I’m aware of it and it’s always been something that I’m trying to do better at. But I had been under a lot of stress most of this year, all with the promotion and life. My excuse has been that I’m too tired or too anxious so I would settle for mindless escape with binge-watching, doom scrolling, and getting lost in video games. Sure, those things also bring me joy, but I am a lot more fulfilled afterward when I *make* things like music, food, and yes, a blog post.

Do what you love even if you’re doing it alone. Almost 15 years ago, I took myself out to the beach to learn Thriller dance and started an adventure for the next 2 years. Having someone to go do something with you is better than going alone, sure. But sometimes you’d be missing out on things if you don’t just take yourself. I have been “running away” for so long, I really must try to run toward things I want to do instead, even if it’s by myself.

It seems like every year I say the same thing. Read more. Cook more. Make more art. Be a better friend. I can always do better than the last year.

And so can we all.

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