Another year has gone by and it's been a while since I blogged something. I've been following Chriselle Lim's blog for a few months now (she's pretty frickin' fabulous) and was inspired to do some self reflection after reading her wonderful end-of-the-year post. She posted answers to 9 questions, but after reading and writing a bit, I decided to add a bonus question at the end.
2017 was definitely a strange one in terms of global events, but personally, it was one of growth, challenges, and joy. I wanted to try to be candid about how my year went, so I hope you enjoy reading. It would be fun to make this a yearly thing and see what my answers are at the end of next year. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
1. What were my best achievements this year?
2017 was a pretty big (transitional) year for me. Completing my MFA (and writing a novel-length thesis) is definitely one of my biggest and best achievements. I also won a writing prize at school and taught two semesters of first year composition. I would also add getting engaged as a best achievement. Its not something I necessarily achieved on my own but I feel like it's a big testament to all the work Micah and I have put into our relationship.
2. How did those achievements make me feel?
I felt really accomplished and happy to be acknowledged for my writing when I got my MFA and the writing award.
The teaching is a bit more complex. I was pretty enthusiastic about teaching when I interviewed for it and got the job. I really like taking on new challenges and teaching definitely fit the bill. However, I had never really wanted to teach before and, in retrospect, am not sure if teaching really helped me get closer to my goal of be a writer. Knowing me, I probably wouldn't have done grad school any other way, and teaching has taught me a lot (which I will talk about more in the next question).
And obviously, getting engaged made me feel very joyful and loved.
3. What were my 3 biggest challenges or obstacles I faced this year? How did I overcome them? Who did I become as a result?
- Figuring out life after grad school: This was/is one of the biggest things I struggle with. After 6 years of higher education, I am still not sure what I want to do with my life other than be a writer. I've always known that you can’t just be a writer (as in, you need to do something else to make sure you’re financially stable). I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it just yet, but I've been really lucky that my parents and Micah are supportive of me being a writer. They believe in me, worry about me, and want me to be happy and that is really much more than I can ever ask for.
- Teaching: Oooh boy was this a new one. Not only did I voluntarily teach first year english in grad school, but I was kind of forced to teach in my current job as a first grade teaching aide/1st and 3rd religion teacher. I’ve never thought of myself as a great public speaker or good at verbally explaining things, so I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decided, “Hey, i’m gonna try and become a teaching assistant in grad school.” What I've learned is that teaching is really the most thankless job, in good and bad ways. The bad news is that it is an uphill battle. I always worried about the students who didn't care and didn't pay enough attention to the students who did. When I lectured, I wondered if what I was saying got through. The good? I was in the company of other TAs who are so passionate about what they teach and who they teach. Students can be wonderful and humbling and curious and creative. I honestly don't know if I'll be teaching more in the future (I would love to teach a creative writing class someday), but it's been an experience™.
- Making time to write: Speaking of being a writer... Writing is hard work people! There's never enough time, whatever I write is never as good as it seemed like it would be in my head, inspiration always seems out of reach!! But if I want to be a writer, I have to write. In the past few months, out of grad school, in the real world, I would write sporadically. I'd look at works in progress, start new stories (a few sentences at a time). Again, this isn't something I've quite overcome, but I look forward to the challenge of being a writer in 2018.
4. How have I developed or changed as a person?
I'm not sure if I've changed at all. I'm not as confused as I was in the beginning of the year in terms of goals, so that's something.
5. What have I done differently this year? What new people have I met or new experiences have I had?
I've read a lot more books. It's partly work, its mostly fun.
Being an engaged person has also been a new experience. It's a bit surreal. It makes me feel like more of an adult. That, along with the fact that I now have government-issued health insurance (because, being 26, I cannot be part of my parent's health insurance plan).
I've also tried to engage in more literary opportunities. The biggest thing was being an editor for Riprap during grad school. Since then, I've also been a reader for Expo Review and interned with Kaya Press.
I worked out pretty consistently for the whole year. I've tweaked my fitness goals a little to add some cardio, but you know what they say about cardio ...
6. How much fun have I had this year? Was I fulfilled?
If fun means binge-watching tv shows and anime in my room then yes, I had lots of fun. I probably should have gotten out more, but, I did have other types of fun. I bonded with the relatives I lived with for grad school, I got to go to New Orleans for my cousin’s bachelorette party, I got to see Micah a lot more this year, I got to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios a few times, I play video games now, Niko introduced me to Haikyuu!! (he probably regrets slightly), my parents got into wine tasting. So, lots of fun fun :)
7. Who has helped me, been influential, or impacted by life this year?
My parents (always), Micah (my fiancé™)
Also, The Narag Family, Betty Wong, Sarah A. Davis, Chelsea DeCastro, Suzanne Greenberg
8. What am I really proud of?
I’m proud of my MFA. I’m proud of how far Micah and I have come. I’m proud that I read more books this year than I have in a long time.
9. Is everything I have done this year in alignment with by big dream or goal?
My first instinct is to say no, but now that I think about it, I might be being hard on myself. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was in grad school, but it really was most of this year that I was still living in Long Beach and writing and teaching. While I still think that I could have done more to reach some personal and professional dreams, it wasn't all bad.
10. (BONUS) What am I looking forward to in 2018?
Getting married!!!! Writing!!!! Reading!!!!! Family times!!!!! Avengers: Infinity War!!!!!