Happy New Year!

One of the books I read in 2016 spoke about how a man who suffered from numerous physical ailments in his youth, battled bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts, and struggled with his career. One day, he resolved that for one year, he would act as if everything he started would turn out a success.

That man was William James, who was later hailed as the Father of American Psychology, and that year marked the beginning of numerous personal and professional successes. Now, while searching online, I can’t find other articles that corroborate the book’s narrative, so take all this with a grain of salt.

That being said, it’s a great lesson, and one that I tried to apply at the beginning of last year. That’s why I’d resolved to do something new each month (for the record, my new thing for December was Adelaide). I’d always had a mental list of things I wanted to do someday… and last year, I ended up doing a lot of them!

Come to think of it, I didn’t really have that “do everything as if it’ll turn out a success” mentality the entire year. There were a lot of times where I felt like giving up on my goals, or just coasting along, reacting to whatever life threw my way… but I’d like to think that the mindset permeated the “do something new every month” structure I’d set for myself, even if it wasn’t at the forefront of my consciousness.

And now that the 2017’s over, I can’t help but think… dang, so many things have changed. I’d previously complained that sometimes it felt that years just blended into each other, with nothing really happening, but now I find myself at 2018 in a totally different place from where I was last year.

So here’s to 2018!

Coming back to social media

I gave up Instagram earlier this year, figuring that I was caught up too much in it. There was just that urge to check it (multiple times!) every day, obsessing over my follower list (I wanted to keep my following/follower list 1:1), catching up on ALL the posts, seeing how many likes or comments I got, and feeling that I had to post regularly lest my followers thought I was living a boring life.

It was tiresome.

Triggered by the change from chronological to “recommended”/”popular” sorting, I gave it up. But then, I eventually realised that I did like the app for one thing — I liked the way it kept a visual record of my days. I loved scrolling through my feed, remembering happy and delicious moments that I’d forgotten about. I tried several apps that did something similar, but none of them had the ease of use of Instagram.

I decided to get back into it, but I changed approach to using the platform. I did the following:

  • Made it public. I felt like I was little too… overprotective of my account, wanting to control every single aspect of it — the quality of the photos, who saw what, etc. I decided to be a bit more easygoing about it, and voila.

  • Did a massive “Following” cull. Nothing personal, but I realised that whilst the content was interesting, there were just too many people I didn’t really have a connection with, anymore. So I applied the following algorithm, with some exceptions:

    • If you’re family, stay. (Unless you’ve never posted a single thing.)
    • If we live in the same city (aka Sydney), we should be making plans to see each other every now and then.
    • If we don’t live in the same city, we make plans to see each other when we are.
    • You’re massively interesting.

    That brought my “Following” list to around a third of my previous count. I have to admit, I felt slightly guilty removing some people, especially those who I’d known for a long time or was close to a while back, but oh well.

  • I decided to only check Instagram when I post. I no longer check it everyday. I never had notifications turned on, even from before, so there was nothing telling me that someone had liked / commented / added me.

  • I no longer care if I’m caught up with everyone’s posts. I might do a quick scroll through my feed if I’m bored, but I’m usually just there to post my stuff.

There you go. I’m still figuring out this balance thing — sometimes I still do get caught up in mindlessly checking social media — but things have been a lot better. As for other platforms:

  • I still don’t check Facebook regularly. I’m a bit annoyed because now I can’t get e-mail alerts when I get invited to events. I guess that was Facebook’s way of getting me to log in more, but it’s had the opposite effect, hah!

  • Twitter, on the other hand — I’ve kinda gotten a bit addicted to people’s brainfarts. I really should stop checking it….

About the past couple of months…

I lost my blogging habit, oh well. It feels a bit too late now to do my usual description on my ‘thing’ for each month because I’m so behind. So here it is, in extremely condensed format.

July: New Caledonia

Or Nouvelle-Caledonie, as the locals call it. Apparently there’s a bit of France less than a 3-hour flight from Sydney. I had no idea this place existed until late last year. I booked this trip on a whim. It was a fun relaxing long weekend, full of eating, chilling by the beach, and slowing down, like a sigh of relief at the end of the first half of the year.

August: Self-improvement, nah

OK, so I know that I previously wrote that I was done with the self-improvement stuff but I couldn’t help myself. I got suckered into the hype of a weekend self-improvement seminar, supposedly heavily discounted. (In all fairness, it also had the endorsement of an acquaintance I ran into unexpectedly.) I may be too much of a smart-ass, but it was too pseudo-scientific and pseudo-psychological for me. The clincher at the end, where they ask you to sign up for thousands of dollars worth of more coaching and seminars, had me running the other way. At least I’ve learned my lesson: never again!

September: “Curated Illusions”

I attended my first indie film premiere, care of my uber-talented friend Rachael Belle Myers. You can watch the trailer and find out more information at her website. It’s started making the rounds at indie film festivals and has already won “Best Film” at one!

October: Um, canelés

This is kind of a cheat because I realised I hadn’t done anything for that month, and then picked out a new thing I’d done. So… a canelé is a not-so-popular French dessert. I asked a French colleague of mine and she didn’t know about it; after looking online, she saw that it was from Bordeaux and I got an informative talk about how regions in France are pretty protective of their recipes, which is why the canelé is relatively unknown. Anyway, so after several failed attempts, I finally had half-a-one. Hopefully, I’ll get to raise that count in the future.

November: Terrigal

Terrigal is a suburb along the Central Coast. It was new for a couple of reasons: one, I’d never been there before; and two, I don’t usually celebrate my birthday, so going away for the weekend to celebrate with girlfriends was a new thing for me. It rained that entire time, so we spent most of our time indoors, drinking wine and catching up on each others’ lives.

And now it’s December! I can’t believe how fast the year’s gone. Or how the only thing that kick-started my writing was the fact that I had to take a sickie today because I woke up with a slight fever.

One thing I like about forced hiatuses is that I finally find the time to actually knock things off my to-do list, especially if said to-do list items are centred around reflection and self-care. For some reason, it’s easy for me not to do these things even though I technically have enough time to do them in my regular life. That’s procrastination for you!

Money, money moneeeeey!

One of the things I realised is I need to change the way I think about my money.

I was originally going to complain about how there’s always something. Something that needs to be paid, taking a chunk out of my budget. My dryer broke down and I had to get a new one. My dishwasher started flooding and had to get it fixed. Even an expected expense such as car registration (around $1000, all in) came with the additional cost of repairing my car window, which had become stuck.

If I complained about how there are always bills to pay, I wouldn’t be wrong. There are always bills to pay, a never-ending cycle, one after the other.

But then someone told me that I was thinking about money all wrong. Yes, bills still have to be paid… but I should be grateful that I actually have money to help sustain my lifestyle. Instead of complaining about money leaving my bank account, I should think about how it enables me to live my life the way I want to.

I’m not saying I’m going to start buying whatever I want — I still need to keep within my budget! But instead of feeling annoyed every time I have to pay for something, I’m going to focus on what I’m getting out of the purchase, instead.

For example, I calculated that I spend around $75 per week on exercise alone — that covers my Krav Maga and dance classes. I used to balk at how much gyms cost (maybe around $20-30 a week?) but here I am, spending much more than that. But there’s no way I’m going to give up what I do and go to a gym — I love what I do, and while I know a lot of gyms have group classes, I’m after the training that only a dedicated self-defence or dance school can do.

I enjoy spending time with my friends, so I’ll always be up for a meal somewhere as long as it’s accompanied by good company and conversation. 🙂 But I still bring my food into work everyday, as much as I can.

I’m probably still a little bit more anal about my money than the average person — yes, I do log in my purchases just so I can keep an eye on my spending — but I’m learning to enjoy it a bit more, and drive into my head that the point of life is not to end up with a big fat bank account. 😛