Thank you, 2015. Hello, 2016.

sb-happynewyear I previously put the title as ‘you’ve been real, 2015’ but it sounded like I’m glad 2015 is over. That’s not how I feel about this year though. If I wanted to use ‘real’ in my title, the word ‘surreal’ would be more appropriate.

So how was 2015 for me? is what I always use in my year in review posts.

This year was surreal and filled with lots of firsts. Our biggest first this year was being alone for school over here. When Mom went home right at the beginning of this year, we had to manage on our own and having technically never been away for school alone, we had no idea how we’d do. I’d say we did okay. We fumbled, learned, and grew. For me, the most important thing I learned was to go easy on myself. I’m always very hard on myself and I have control issues born out of fear of things not being done right and also the annoying need to take on burdens by myself but this year I’ve actively tried to let go.

Other firsts: making jams and sauces from scratch (!!), lots of cooking and baking firsts (mishaps and deliciousness all happen in the kitchen, my friends), my sister getting her driver’s license (holla!!), going to our first college basketball game (and subsequently trying to go to all of them this season because we love basketball), taking a flight alone (well, with my sister but it was our first time doing it ourselves), witnessing all 4 seasons in California (fall is gorgeous), first time at a Christmas party, driving through decorated neighborhoods for Christmas, first time going to a craft fair (read about it here), Major’s first birthday (wait, you mean you don’t name your car?), and I really cannot list everything here.

Here have some pictures that I cannot seem to slot into the post appropriately (and please feel free to follow me at my new Instagram handle @raineandraisin because I forgot the password to my other account lol):

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I am rereading last year’s ‘year in review’ post as I write this. Reading the part where I quoted the Barakamon opening theme song, I’m really moved because I feel that I’ve found bits and pieces of myself this year and it’s true that you don’t have to go back to the beginning to find yourself. I compared myself with others less this year and I was kinder to myself (for the most part).

One of the biggest turning points in my life so far has been learning more about Buddhism. Buddhism is something I want to write about one day. Though I have some ways to go, I am determined to learn and practice Buddhism as much as I can. Hustle, hustle, muscle, muscle! (That’s a quote from one of the weirdest, funniest shows we’ve watched this year)

I am also pleased to tell you that this year I stepped outside of my comfort zone and pushed myself more than I ever have. So one of the biggest things that I accomplished this year is getting into an honors program. The thought of doing research is nerve-wracking yet exciting?! These 3 sentences don’t even begin to describe all the feelings I had during, before, and after applying for the program. I wrote 2 long posts about it but never got around to wrapping them up.

I met a number of people this year who have inspired me to do better and learn more. I met new friends and kept up with old ones. I feel like this year I have become a better friend which is nice (oh god my vocab). I am thankful for all the people in my life this year, whether they taught me something or silently motivated me or made me feel like I belong or remained by my side when I most needed it.

As usual, I’m throwing in a bit about my birthday since my birthday is in December and I ended up not writing about my birthday. I turned 22 this month. It was a modest affair (I reread 2013’s year in review post and it seems that ever since I entered my 20s, my birthdays have been really mild). My mom and sister took me out to another fancy lunch AND had dessert just like last year. This time I had a huge chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream and it was deeply satisfying.

My ninja gift givers also pulled off yet another birthday surprise. My sister got me a keychain which is always nice because I used to be a keychain hoarder (had literally 20 keychains on my pencil case at one point in time) and I still do love keychains. I did NOT expect anything so it was a fun surprise. I asked my mom for lipstick but there have been some hiccups with the site that we want to order from so I’m still waiting for that. I haven’t made birthday wish lists in years because as I’ve grown older, I realize that I don’t need material things to be happy on my birthday. I’m happy with just cake and family.

As for our love for Japanese things, I’m happy to say that it was a successful year of discovering Chemistry, watching sooo many new animes, and finding manga gems. Oh yes, we managed to make a huge step forwards in our Japanese learning which is super exciting. Has it already been 2 years since we dove back into the anime/manga world?! Like I said, surreal.

Random: I took 6 weeks of Korean classes this year during summer but sadly haven’t made time to continue learning it on my own. My retention is likely 15% haha but I want to work on it so that all that time and money won’t be wasted. Also, I just really love languages and want to learn as many as I can. Being in California, I would like to learn Spanish buuut I don’t know how doable that’s going to be if I’m still working on my Japanese. This was so random.

Learning a new language isn’t easy and though it has taken us longer than expected to get to this point, it is still deeply rewarding and I want to tell everyone who is learning a new language not to give up even if you think you’ve fallen behind or that you won’t get to where you want to be or that you won’t actually get to use it so why bother. And whatever you do, don’t feel discouraged by people or books telling you that their way is the best and only way to learn the language. There is no RIGHT way to learn a language and it’s perfectly OKAY to go at your own pace.

There is one main thing that I wanted to do this year which I half-accomplished, half-failed at. That was to control my emotions better. I am disappointed at all the times I gave in to my emotions and did/said things I can’t be proud of.

Overall, this year didn’t feel like it went by super fast. It had all the ups and downs and loop-d-loops but it was also a year of accomplishments and solid life lessons. To quote last year’s post but with a different spin: I stumbled and fell now and then, sometimes I was helped up, sometimes I helped myself up, but ultimately I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned this year and for the less pleasant things, I will chalk them up to experience and grow from there. Probably the wisest thing I said last year.

I don’t have a theme song going into 2016 like I did for last year. I hoped that I would find one but I didn’t. I have been trying to think of my ‘word’ or ‘phrase’ for 2016 because I’ve seen lots of inspiring ones out there but ultimately, here I am on the last day of 2015, still undecided. When I think of next year and some of the things that I know lie ahead, a few words come to mind but if I want to pick a word, I want it to encompass both the known and unknown.

Mindfulness.

It’s been a word that has been coming to me frequently and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to bring it up. Mindfulness used to be a word I didn’t understand and didn’t think about often. It is actually a really simple concept – that is to be fully present – yet it is not as easy to practice as we think.

With that, I would like to declare mindfulness as something I would like to actively practice going into 2016.

Here’s to being present and cultivating more compassion! Let’s meet again soon.

Raine
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