Don’t cringe at the excessively-long title. I know it sounds like the sort of inspirational quotes that those pretentious Instagram-ers enjoy posting, or something out of a self-help 101 book. But I really am writing a post on…positivity and how crucial it is to surround yourself with supportive friends when chasing your dreams.
Being the underachiever that I am, I made many New Year’s Resolutions, knowing full well that there’s a 99% probability that I wouldn’t be able to follow through with some of the more far-fetched ones like ‘Keep fit’ and ‘Stop being a k-drama addict’. But in that list, I also wrote down goals that I genuinely want to work towards, because they would improve the quality of my life and better empower me to be a more useful human being.
I’m posting this on a relatively public platform because I want to feel accountable to an imaginary online community (and my friends who are reading this), rather than let these thoughts stay unheard in my little diary. Plus, future me will be able to look back on these goals and see whether she actually managed to fulfil any of them.
Some of my 2017 resolutions:
- Make decisions that take me closer to my dream/goals.
- Treasure the friends who respect you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Be supportive of them and have their back like they have yours.
- Don’t stay close to people who refuse to respect & accept you as you are.
- Do the things that make you feel fulfilled and enrich your life. Don’t entertain the fear of missing out.
- Maintain emotional wellbeing, stay positive.
- Set aside more time to pursue my other interests.
Make decisions that take me closer to my dream/goals. Every major decision I have made in my life was made with this particular dream in mind, and I hope that every choice I make in 2017 (and every subsequent year) will continue to guide me towards achieving my biggest dream. I’ll only be able to see if chasing this dream works out after 11 more years, which scares me, but it would be immensely rewarding to see the it come to fruition someday. I know that ‘chasing dreams’ sounds far less concrete than ‘setting goals’, but either way, a dream or goal is something that your heart & head want to run towards; it’s the reason you wake up every morning, and it forms every fibre of your being. Without dreams and aspirations, humans would lack purpose and go about life robotically, like hollow shells.
I’m in the habit of setting long-term goals; I’m more of a ‘big picture’ kind of person than someone who gets demoralised by minor setbacks. Even if bad things happen occasionally, I don’t cry over them for too long, because they’re all just part of the grand experience that is life – a rollercoaster with ups & downs that eventually leads to motion sickness and/or death (pardon the dark humour). And I trust that God’s grace will be sufficient for all my bad times, as it’s always been, but you can ignore this sentence if you’re not religious or are offended by my beliefs. 😛
The danger/excitement of setting such ambiguous long-term goals is that it is all-too-easy for the ‘future you’ to lose sight of the goal over the years, or change their (?your?) mind, which would render all the groundwork laid over the years useless, but that’s okay. The fact that you once cherished a dream to that extent it already admirable in itself, and the steps you took to achieve that goal would probably have set you on a path of success. Personally, even if I- god forbid – give up my dream of living & working overseas, I’d still have attained a certain level of success on the winding path to this goal…which brings me to my second resolution.
Treasure the friends who respect you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Be supportive of them and have their back like they have yours. No matter how big/crazy or small/simple your dream is, it is significant and deserves to be respected by other people. I wish more people in my life would understand that. I’ve had many friends tell me that my dream is too unachievable, or look at me incredulously and ask me why I would even want to chase such a dream. This friend of mine once spent a good 5 minutes telling me why he disagreed with my dream, and another 10 listing all the difficulties I would face if I chased it, because he personally disliked the notion of migrating. Some have tried to coax me out of it, as if I’m telling them that my dream is something dangerous like swimming with sharks, or something unrealistic like becoming a billionaire. No one should have to feel like they need to justify or defend their dreams; please please please never feel apologetic over pursuing what your heart wants.
Don’t stay close to those who refuse to respect & accept you as you are. Be careful of who you open up to, and don’t be too naive/foolish (like me). Don’t expect people to be honest with you just because you were honest and opened up to them. Time is the only test of friendship; whoever sticks around to see you at your best and worst over the years are true friends. Everyone else are just transient friends/acquaintances, because they don’t genuinely care. Sharing your personal problems and life goals with anyone is a pretty big step in opening up to them, and if they don’t understand that, then maybe you’re better off confiding in a brick wall, because at the very least, walls are more lasting. When I tell you about my dreams, my opinions and my issues, I don’t need you to agree with everything, I just want you to listen and share in my life story, because friends are supposed to open up to each other.
Do the things that make you feel fulfilled and enrich your life. Don’t entertain the fear of missing out. You only have a finite amount of time to do so very many things, from socialising, organising events, and volunteering to catching up on shows and sleeping. It is your inalienable right
get the Harry Potter reference?? to make decisions with regard to how you spend your time, with the few exceptions being compulsory stuff like school, or whatever you need to do to support your lifestyle, like work. Don’t force yourself to undertake responsibilities just because you feel the need to prove yourself to others, don’t invest your time in people who pretend to be there for you when they actually aren’t, don’t be afraid that you’re missing out on bonding by not going for a gathering.
FOMO is a pretty toxic thing if you let it control your decisions, because you’ll always end up worrying that your friends are having a great time without you, or that you’re missing the opportunity of a lifetime by declining to be on the organising committee of some massive event. After having been the victim of FOMO back in secondary school, where I overcommitted to CCAs, leadership and socialising, I realised that it didn’t make me any happier or more fulfilled as a person. I felt like I was stuck in a constant paper-chase and was only doing things for the sake of having a good portfolio. And as for the friendships, I realised that missing out on one or two outings didn’t change anything; these are still the girls who have my back no matter what, and who are still by my side after 5 years. They’re the ones who encourage me to be the
craziest happiest version of myself, who support me when I need someone to confide in, and who still love me despite my lameness eccentricities. It’s really not about spending many hours together talking about shallow things, it’s about who you know you can call at 2am to talk about life with. The quality of the friendship and the type of conversations you have with people are what determines how strong the friendship will be, and FOMO is irrelevant to building strong friendships.
Maintaining emotional wellbeing and staying positive are also on my list of resolutions, and it’s important to me because I’ve gone through some dark periods in life; those of you who knew me 2 years ago would have witnessed it firsthand. I have no idea how I managed to pull through, but after making it out of the woods filled with dark thoughts (and bad grades from constant crying & being unable to concentrate), I became a stronger and more independent person, and learnt that I should not rely on others to bring me happiness. People leave and relationships/friendships run their course, but my younger self’s excessive idealism was the root of all my disappointment and sadness. Expecting another person to be by your side for life is unrealistic, so you have to take care of yourself and learn to be okay with things as they are in the moment. Love yourself and take good care of your mental & physical health, because you’re the only one who’ll be there for yourself throughout life.
I also endeavour to set aside more time to pursue my other interests, like learning Korean & French, volunteering, dancing and playing the bunch of musical instruments I have lying around in my house. Doing these things fulfils me and brings joy into my life, and help restore my sanity after a tiring day at school. I have always prioritised play over work, and intend to keep it that way no matter how demanding school/work is. There’s nothing more important than pursuing what you love doing, because at the end of your life, no one regrets not having worked harder, they only wish that they could have played more and enjoyed their youth more.
Ending on that note, I’m posting this in a hurry because I have a vacation to go on (what a way to start 2017); work hard and play harder, that’s exactly what I intend to do for the rest of this week and the 51 that follow. Hopefully by the end of 2017, I’ll have managed to stick to these goals.
P.S. I don’t make any money from running this blog, so if you’d like to support my writing and help me bring even better content to you, you can buy me a coffee/donate on Ko-fi!
If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series