Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The New Year


2018: Hard to believe that yet another twelve months and 365 days have gone by. It feels like time has passed slowly, or in a blink of an eye. This may sound cliche, but most of the time it feels like time is flying by. And with yet another year behind us, another Jan. 1st always seems to be the "day" in which our excitement about starting anew is the highest. Although I don't consider myself to be someone who gets overexcited easily, I am extremely glad to have the opportunity to start with a clean slate for the new year.

I'll be honest, 2018 was a pretty awful year for me personally. It may seem weird for me to say because, if you look at it from an objective point of view, it seems to be the polar opposite of "miserable". I have had one of the most rewarding years ever, with getting my first official job (even though it doesn't pay too much), submitted my medical school applications (still unsure of how that might turn out), and getting back to writing and have become one of the leaders in fandom fiction. All in all, not a bad year.

But now that the year is coming to a close, I feel extremely tired, like I haven't slept well or had a good rest in a really long time. I've felt like this since the beginning of the year, and it wasn't until last week that I finally figured out why I might be feeling this way.

I don't know what exactly changed, but I have been receiving a lot of more "personal" questions on Tumblr in recent weeks. I know that most people would be pretty uncomfortable with answering such questions from strangers, but for me personally, it's more interesting than the generic "can you write a fic about (insert topic)" or "where did you buy (blank) from?". Another question that I constantly got were political questions that others felt I should comment on. Don't get me wrong -- those questions are absolutely fine -- but sometimes those questions do get repetitive and boring. After all, there are more important things going on, either politically or socially, going on these days than what brand someone is wearing or a work of fiction that somehow found its way through my mind. It was during one of these questions that the term "apathy" came across my mind. Being a political science major, it was fairly difficult for me to be truly "in the middle" about most political issues, but it did make me learn something in the process.

Allow me to explain. 2018 had been a very stressful year, but the vast majority of that stress has been self-induced. A certain amount of stress is good because it pressures us to get things done and move forward with our lives. But no matter how good something might be, there's always a point where too much of something results in a loss.

When stress in our lives begins to negatively affect our quality of life, our relationships, our mental well-being, it's often because we care too much about something. Usually, these things are issues that we can't change no matter how hard we work on them. Personally, stress was something that I forced myself to work and coexist with. For a while, things seemed to be working pretty well, but there came a point when I was winning certain battles but losing the war. In case you want more information on how I did, I lost the war on 2018...pretty badly.

It's quite a long story and difficult to explain, but I was so focused on so many things that at the end of the day just didn't matter. It was like trying to run five different races at the same time. It was a clearly impossible task, but sometimes we feel like we can still do it all. Personally, it was a failure in the sense that I was too consumed with trying to have everything. No one has everything. As time goes by, I started to realize that no one really has everything they want. We all have weaknesses -- but obsessing over our weaknesses don't magically turn them into strengths. It just makes these issues seem larger than they actually are.

That's where my point of apathy comes into play. Apathy doesn't mean I'm not aware of the problems in my life. It's more about not being too concerned about it. How about we go with an example. Let's take medical school applications (a personal example). I (and many others) went through the miserable months (June to November) where we stressed, worried, and played the "what-if" games over and over again in our minds. But what is the point of all of these hand-wringing games? Applications have already been submitted, MCAT scores and GPA's can't be changed, and unless you have the skillset to hack several systems at once, you can't change either your experience or the numbers behind your application. When I look back upon the entire application experience, I want to punch myself. All this time that I used to worry about these things could have been used for things that I could have controlled -- studying more during my classes (thus earning a higher GPA), enjoying time with my friends, or simply just taking some time to sit back and relax. What is my point? I was overly concerned with an outcome that was no longer in my control.

2019 is going to be a big year for me. I finally have a steady job that pays alright, move into the "real world" as an adult, and I have zero intentions of being financially dependent. While 2018 has had a fair amount of happy moments, I would like a pass on a potential repeat. This past year's top emotion was stress, straight and simple. This next year, I will not stress over things that are beyond my control. I am sure this next year will bring its fair share of rejection an failure, but I don't think I've been this excited for a new year in a very long time. Every so often, we need a good cleaning in our lives. Although letting go of things is never easy, some things (some people) simply need to go.

Apathy isn't about completely not caring or trying to erase what happened, but its more of putting things you can't change aside. It's about being neutral about these issues. It's about accepting the fact that you have done everything in your power to get the desired result, and accepting the end result, whatever that may be.

This may sound pessimistic, but we're all going to make someone angry, fail at something we wanted, or make a decision that will be unpopular. Should we be aware of our failures and try to improve upon ourselves? Absolutely -- turning a blind eye is not going to solve anything. But on the other hand, sitting around and trying to find the "perfect" solution can paralyze us from actually going out and living our lives. Being perfect is a lie that has been fed to us by social media. What might be right to me might seem wrong to you. There is no way for us to be able to get everything right, and we should just be content with what we have.

What's the best part about being apathetic? It gives us more time to focus on what's good in our lives -- friends, family, meeting new people. It's using our abilities to change what we can to what is important in our lives. Stress will always be a part of our lives, but, if we can learn to choose what areas we can actually change, it could affect us in a positive way.

So -- cheers to another year and a new blank slate. Thank you to everyone who has kept up with me in 2018 and keep your comments and feedback coming my way.

Happy New Year, everyone.

-Gina

41 comments:

  1. I'm not sure if your definition of apathetic fits mine. Connotation is everything I guess. The traditional definition is: showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

    But I like the way you describe it as putting aside things we cannot change. That's wisdom, imho. My mother's favorite quote was the Prayer of Serenity, but I've always preferred this variation of it:

    God grant me the serenity,
    to accept the people I cannot change,
    The courage to change the one I can,
    And the wisdom to know it's me.

    Stress can eat us alive if we let it.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. I actually wrote this down because I felt this can be really inspiring. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. A most enlightening post to read Gina. I can relate to the stress element of 2018, but far the worse was losing my youngest son who lived in Spain in October with the "Big C". I am devestated but with hope can and WILL cope as this year progresses.
    Happy New Year to you.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear about your son. There are no words I can say that will help you feel better, all I can hope for is that you will be able to remember the good times you had with him.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  3. Happy New Year.
    I sooooo relate to being stressed out about things I cannot change. And what a waste of time and energy it is. I am trying hard to learn to let go. A work in progress. Always.

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    1. That's exactly it! A waste of time. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. I would suggest more rest wherever you can squeeze it in. Farmers let their fields lie fallow for a season to build needed nutrients. And if even dirt needs a rest, how more do you?! Thanks for visiting my blog! :-)

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  5. Stress is a real joy-killer. Good for you for recognizing it and doing what you can about it.

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  6. Sometimes I get stressed by things that don't need stressing about or wouldn't stress others, my stress sometimes leads to anger, have a good new year Gina!

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  7. I'm sorry to hear that 2018 was a challenging year. Wishing you much joy and happiness in this coming year.

    Cheers- Ellen

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  8. I think the hardest aspect to comprehend is when life hits us, out of our control. Especially when you try so hard and still, it comes up with a short hand. The best thing I know is doing what it sounds like you are doing. Think of what you can control. Think of the moments that have worked and go with them. I wish you much luck in the New Year :)

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    1. Have a great New Year, Erika. Thanks for visiting!

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  9. I think you have to experience high stress from things out of your control before you learn to let go. I remember the year in which two things were weighing heavy on my mind and they actually balanced themselves like carrying two heavy pieces of luggage. When one got me wound up, my brain would eventually switch to the other for relief. And there will always be certain things that stress you out even if you know it's a waste of energy.

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  10. Get some sleep! This always helps me be more productive and creative and helps forget about some of the bad that happens in a year!

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  11. Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.

    Start fresh, start new. Parts of 2019 will probably suck, too, but work to make some parts. As long as the good parts outnumber the bad ones, we're doing alright.

    IWSG January

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  12. Stress usually makes me shut down. Here's to less of that this year!

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  13. Wishing you lots of good things and minimal stress for 2019.

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  14. I am definitely looking forward to a better 2019!

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  15. Sending prayers for you that 2019 will be a great year. I have many more years behind me than you and have learned that worrying solves nothing. It's hard not to worry at times, I know, but we need to take each day and do the best we can. I've discovered that most times everything will work out, not always as we want, but the way it's best. So nice to meet you. Enjoy life.

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    1. That's so true Beverly! Thanks for visiting :)

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  16. Yes, cheers to another year and a new blank slate, Gina! I'm excited about 2019 too! I hope that the new year brings great things your way, especially a medical school acceptance. And kudos to you for reducing your stress over things you cannot control. Too much stress can have a huge impact on your health and well-being. Nip it now while you are younger. All the best to you!

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  17. Oh The stress thing is definitely weighing me down. It makes me very tired and unfocused. That’s what I’m working on this year. Getting the stress under control so that I can feel more rested and able to think more creatively. Happy new year, Gina!

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  18. We tend to be our own worst enemies, or best friends, or both.
    A wonderfully enriching 2019 to you, Gina.

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  19. Cliché or not, I full-heartedly agree about how fast time is speeding by. Feels like it was just January 2018, and now, all of sudden, it's 2019!

    And sorry to hear how stressful this past year has been for you. It's so rough when life's stressors seem to do nothing but pile up on each other. Focusing on the things you can control is very wise advice. Hope 2019 treats you well!

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  20. I hope your 2019 turns out better. Stress is never worth it. Sending good vibes your way:)

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  21. A blog bud posted about Wabi Sabi. I found it both interesting and fitting. Nothing is permanent, nothing is perfect, nothing is complete.
    Here's to 2019.

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  22. In 2018 the world was stressed and so were most of us!
    I do hope your New Year is wonderful, I'm hoping the same for all!
    Move forward doing the best you can and keep smiling!

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  23. I hope that 2019 is a wonderful year for you. Having a new job and working on pursuing your dreams of medical school are two great ways to begin the year. And if you change your mind- that is okay too. :)

    Try not to stress about the small things and focus your energy on the things you care about.

    Happy New Year!
    ~Jess

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  24. Sorry to hear about all the stress in your life. To me, stress means worry. And worry doesn't help. Basically, just spinning your wheels and not making any progress. Make plans to change worry into action to make it better. Realize when you can't change anything, then tuck it away and move on. Wishing you an action year in 2019~
    JQ Rose

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  25. Gina, I don't know how you seem to hit on everything I need to hear. I'm sorry you've had such stress, but glad you've shared it here. I have the feeling I'm much older than you and I am still learning. So, I hope you don't feel you're in a "rut." You have time! 2019 is a good excuse to get out and keep learning because there is soooo much more out here to experience! Good luck!

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