Auld Lang Syne is my favorite Christmastime song, despite it not actually having to do with the holiday. I love it partly because it’s Scottish, but also because with it comes the gratitude of the past year and expectation of the next. It’s the one time of year I can count on reflecting on my life and taking my reflections seriously.
I can say with a certain level of confidence that this year, unlike the last couple years, has not been terrible. I mean, yes, I have had better days and not many good ones (not many I remember, anyway) but there was nothing absolutely soul-crushing of this past year. I dealt with failure and came back from it. I have started doing better in school because of that failure. I’ve spent more time with family and I feel like I know them better now. I read more than I have in the last three years combined, having read about nine books during the last five months of 2010, about five of them in one sitting. I lost my grandma this year and now appreciate the sympathy and pain that comes with losing a loved one (I am somewhat emotionally dead inside, as I was the only person in my extended family that did not cry during the time for her funeral).
But what I think is most important to me is that I have a better sense of self from this past year. Let me set this up with a small anecdote. This past Monday, December 27th, I went to the Golden State Warriors vs. Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers basketball game with my dad. And on the way to the game, I was telling him of my time in college, as I often do. I was telling him about the choice I had to either minor in Statistics or to minor in Education. He replied that a minor in the former would be more useful later in life when applying for a Masters’ program or for Graduate School. And I resented his answer.
My point is that I have learned a lot about myself through my relationship with my dad. He follows the general principle that everything is just a means to an end. And I can’t live by that mentality. Most of my life has been trying to win his approval and it took me 20 years and five months to realize that while I enjoy it and it’s nice to have, I don’t need it. I have learned that there are times when I have to do things I don’t want to (i.e. major in Business Management Economics) but that doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy myself. The present is important because it is our lives and if you don’t enjoy the current arrangement, then something should be changed. Do work, even when you don’t enjoy it, but never take the enjoyment out of your everyday life.
I have also learned something about fathers in general. Dads should never be openly questioned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question them. They are not infallible. They are human. They are their sons’ heroes because they are human. Their choices for you shape you because you are human. And because they are human, they are prone to living in a singularly minded point of view, namely their own. And because we are human, there will come a time when we resent them for this point of view. And that is okay. Dads shape you into the man you become, but you are not your dad.
And now, like I’ve done in past years, it’s time for the “Thank You”s. Last year, I wrote that the message 2009 gave me was to “follow your dreams”. This year, it was “move forward, work hard, and the dreams will come to you”. I honestly think that at some point in my adult life, I will look at my life and realize that I am exactly where I want to be. This year was the first step to that goal. So thanks are in order for those who made this year great.
Thank you Lauren Jeong for being, for better or for worse, one of the most reliable friends I have ever had. Thank you Thomas Tran for always reminding me of myself and being an amazing person to be around. Thank you Carol Liang for being my online confidant and fellow internet lurker. Thank you Ishaan Sengupta for being, for the lack of a better phrase, my better half for not just the past year, but since I started college. Thank you Gordon Huang, Seth Wong, Rayson Lui, and Adam Rosasco for being the same people I met when I first met you guys and for being good people to kill time with. Thank you Tiffany Sun for testing me in ways I couldn’t even think possible before and for counting on me. Thank you Daphne-Loves-Derby-Message-Board-Members-On-Tumblr for accepting me for being the introverted stranger and making me feel valuable again. Thank you Hank and John Green for helping me rediscover that intellectual sharpness is totally bad-ass and reminding me why I was an obsessive reader in second grade. Thank you Andrew Yi and friends for reminding me that being young means not giving a damn what people think. Thank you Dad for being the man I model myself upon and the high standard that I try to meet everyday. And thank you to everyone I could not remember. Every person I met had a hand in making 2010 the year that it was: exciting, trying, and worth living.
Last year, I also made a goal. That goal was Don’t give people the chance to give you shit. Not even your parents. And for the most part, I think I succeeded. It’s always a work in progress, but in more ways I can count, I was successful. So this year, I’ll do the same. This year, the goal is this: Stay creative. Stay hungry. Stay determined. I think a lot of my success this past year was from making a goal, so this year, I’ll add to it. Don’t give people the chance to give you crap and do something, anything you find worth doing.
I hope that 2011 will bring more of the same 2010 did: more chances to be great and more progress in a good direction.