Thank you for an amazing 2018.

Grace Lam

It’s customary to say “the year has been a [insert object that goes up and down, like rollercoaster]”.

Well, son, I don’t want to say it, but… the year has been like hormones. 

For me, there was the highest of highs, I felt like I was flying, when my dreams were coming true. It also brought me to the pits of the earth–I sunk so far down into myself that I turned inside out.

Slowly but surely, I saw more parts of the world than my little heart could handle, and I craved the mountains and oceans surrounding home again.

This year, I was good at pushing myself out of my box. I might’ve said that last year too, but this year, I went farther than I thought I would and could.

I started the year by writing about how I was moving for a job in the USA. I actually accepted the offer in Oct 2017, and now it’s Dec 2018, but honestly, I didn’t think many people would care about what went on in my life.

Then I got some encouraging comments and messages from Artiden, which led me to open up further.

I chopped off most of my hair and started paying more attention to myself. If I can only spend 90% of my days doing what I love, I’m intending to maximize this time.

My travels took me back to Asia, and Europe. I stumbled upon many curious events.

For example, I was in South Korea when they declared “peace” with North Korea (couldn’t see anything at the border besides fog). I was in Paris when they won the World Cup (man, they didn’t stop screaming until 5am everyday on the streets). I was in London when the entire city marched to protest against Trump (I was careful to display my Canadian tag on my backpack so I wouldn’t get punched “by accident”).

The time I almost went deaf. It was terrifying to see how poorly I function when deaf in one ear. I couldn’t even walk without tripping.

In a moment of bravery, I admitted to hundreds of thousands of people online, on Artiden, things that I only told two of my close friends. Things even my mother only found out last month. I thought it would be of help to someone out there.

All my Artiden friends were so supportive, and I’m so lucky to have found such an amazing group.

People have asked me to teach piano online, so out of curiosity, I picked a few students to teach over the internet. Would it work this time? I’d tried teaching online piano lessons four years ago when the lag and video quality were garbage.

But sometimes I forget that technology improves exponentially every few months. The video quality is really good.

I get to teach music students in different timezones so the schedules always work out, and the students get to return to their own lives right after the lesson, no driving in the rain nor waiting!

Bob (an Artiden community friendo) and Pan are two of the first people who asked me to teach, so thank you!

Music became a focus of my days again. It’s been a while since my two-hour practice days and performance exams, but I remembered why I played piano in the first place. I love making music.

I wrote about my favourite sight reading techniques, and composed a short passage for everyone to play. A lot of people asked to see more of my compositions, but I’m shy!

I also wrote about how to get past a piano plateau, which I personally went through a few times.

I spoke up for mental health. I became… an advocate for mental health. Lumohacks worked with military veterans and first responders to create projects for mental health challenges, and some of these projects for depression and PTSD and beyond, will be further developed.

I became more confident in myself, and gave fewer unnecessary fucks. Yes, I swore, I can say what I want, and in this article, I feel like swearing.

I said what needed to be said. I told people I didn’t want to talk to them, or that I needed time and space, or that I cared about them. Sometimes people didn’t respond positively, and I am still dealing with the consequences, but I felt that things were better said than left simmering. 

I used to word my thoughts in a certain way to make people feel nice about themselves, but didn’t always get the point across, you know? I didn’t want people to feel bad. I didn’t want people to get angry. I didn’t know how to say, “No.”

But hey, this is my life we’re talking about, and if I waste time on useless tasks and responding to easily offended people, then that’s a loss for me.

Conversely, I expressed more affection to the people I was comfortable with. I became braver with this.

I made effort to reach out to those I cared about and sent positive messages, and you know what? I don’t mind if a friend doesn’t regard me in the same way.

When I’d reached out twice with no response, I made it clear that it would be my last time reaching out for a while. No hard feelings, but I’ve done my due diligence. Friendship is a two way street.

I shrunk my circle of friends. Remember a few years ago when I would mention new names of friends every few months? 

That’s gone. I didn’t even have a “huge” birthday party this year, and I LOVE birthdays.

Now that there are fewer people, I’m noticing when they are absent more often. When I ask X to be there, and she can’t be there for me, it affects me a lot because I can’t satisfy the… “need” for friendship, so to speak. There aren’t as many people to rely on.

Sometimes I’m lonely. I’m working on being happy by myself. 

I sought out truths for myself. Were you here in 2012 when I wrote about wanting to see the outer corners of the world? I would look up photos of exotic places that I wanted to visit, and write about the architecture of buildings I wanted to sit by, and the food poisoning I couldn’t wait to get.

What appeared in photos as exotic and beautiful usually had another layer of truth once you’re there in person.

The Asian markets are bustling and humid where people elbow you left and right, the Sistine Chapel is breathtaking and beautiful with security shouting “SHHHH” like snakes inside the rooms. 

I have to admit that sitting in front of the butt-naked David statue in relative silence in Florence is satisfying, though.

I optimized my life’s boring tasks.

I’m bad at scheduling or keeping track of emails or data, so I automated a lot of tasks in my life so that I didn’t have to think about it. 

For a programming exercise, I’m looking into automating more tasks that are less conventional (read: writing a bot in python that does dumb stuff for me like schedule events), and we’ll see where this goes. It might not end up being practical at all.

I’ve made some hard decisions this year.

If you know me, then you’ll know that I like to gather a lot of feedback from different people before I make a decision.

Well, I have to say that a few people in my life really disagreed with some of my decisions, and so I tried to appease them, but it killed a part of myself every time I thought about it, which was every single day.

After that, I spent a really, really long time contemplating my options. I won’t go into specifics to protect people’s privacy, and maybe in the future I will, but for now, I have to say that I started to put myself first.

I have made decisions that hurt either myself or others, but which I still believe would give the best outcome in the long run. 

It’s going to hurt, and some of my relationships may never recover from this, but I’ve accepted it.

The holidays can be difficult for me.

I think about my dad everyday.

I think about him when I play the song that goes, “Will you know my name… if I saw you in heaven…” and I wonder.

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It’s been a heart wrenching, exhilarating year. I have to thank everyone who’s supported me, my friends and family.

Thanks to everyone who also helped out for the blog, because it’s such a huge undertaking that I couldn’t do it by myself. 

  • My patient and amazing editors: Dahlia Sohliven, Allison Hu, Amy Truong, Grace Rose (we had to part ways because she’s pursuing some big things!)
  • The talented graphic designer: Daniel Cheng (seriously, he’s so cool)
  • Provider of great content (aka I’m allowed to write about him anytime without his permission), and helping with the hangouts, and moral support 24/7: Pan
  • Artiden friendos for providing a lot of support and comments and fun times during the hangouts! Means a lot and y’all make me smile and I’m always so excited to read your comments/emails/messages, especially: Bob, Rosie, Carol, Mike, Joey, Lisa, Cathy
  • Because this is a general blog for myself, I also want to thank some other people that I really have gotten to know this past year!
  • Giving me encouragement and help along the way for my ideas: Kerry Gibson

I love getting messages. Really. It keeps me going and gives me an idea of what you’re interested in.

Recently, one morning, I woke up and felt completely satisfied with myself. Only now, do I really feel like I am strong and beautiful in my own skin, even when doing ordinary everyday tasks like sitting on the couch or munching away at cereal.

Let’s see if this carries onto next year.

Onward and upwards, friendos!

Grace

P.S. Here are messages I’ve gotten from some Artiden friends…

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1 Comment

  • Reply Kerry Gibson January 5, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    #sheforshe super proud of you ❤

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