I started off 2016 with champagne, whiskey, and a dysfunctional party popper.

January 1st, 2016, 5pm

As the countdown neared 0, I held onto my miniature party popper, ready to pull.

“0! Happy new year!” Everyone starts cheering, popping their poppers and clinking champagne glasses. Turns out mine was a dud. I search the table for another one and pull it, contributing a belated “pop!” to the festivities.

“Happy new year!” I say to my friends.

“Happy new year!”

Reflecting on 2015

2015 has been an incredible year full of learning.

I took the courage to seek help for the gnawing anxiety I kept facing with work, and learned to be more forgiving of myself and emotions along the way. I learned that jumping into an unknown with both feet in is terrifying but still ends up being worthwhile, even if things don’t work out. It feels good to be brave.

I learned about the beauty of a starlit sky, as I admired it from the heights of Mt Fuji. I saw the sun rise through the clouds on a mountain, saw it rise above distant mountains across a desert plain, and marveled at the beauty of the world as it is.

I met people who challenged my worldview, encouraged me to believe in myself, and taught me new ways to think through decisions. Everyone who has made a dent in my life, I am grateful for. I am still learning.

14 trips, 5 new countries later, I have discovered the wondrousness that is jamon iberico de bellota. The breathtaking beauty of a city that is Istanbul. The dynamism and energy of Tel Aviv. There is still so much out there that I do not know.

I have learned, more than anything, the joy of learning and growing, of putting myself in the path of change. Looking back, it is not those nights of anxious insomnia, of heartbreak, of sheer exhaustion that I remember most. Over time, they will recede even further in my memory whilst the moments of joy and insight remain vivid.

It is this courage I want to take with me into the new year. Keep moving, keep learning, keep changing. If the party popper doesn’t pop the first time, I can always just try again.

David Wade and Ridhee said thanks.

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Yiling Ding

Think too much. Write too little.

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