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.