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Against my desire to resist faddishness, I am writing a year-ender. And yes, I am posting this in advance. What difference will the last few weeks do anyway? To me, 2013 has already ended beyond what the calendar indicates.

For starters, this year wasn’t the kindest. But one cannot expect everything to turn out well for him, can he? You will have good days and bad days, sometimes good years and bad years. There were several setbacks which found myself second-guessing my capacities. While it is something I’m not keen on reliving, my failures – in personal and professional areas – provided the certainty necessary to grow as a person. We usually associate growth with learning, and learning with traditional means – going to school, attending training programs and seminars, or involving yourself in critical discussions. I learned the hard way: experience.

I suffered many odd days when waking up hurt, when the desire to chase my own dreams and accomplish long thought of goals appeared useless. I was a portrait of futility, if I could suggest that imagery. And confronted with tough choices, I bailed out and gave up. I was close to breaking, and maybe I actually broke apart (my memory can never be depended upon, if I haven’t made that evident). Shards of myself hurt people, and picking the pieces of my shattered confidence required bravery.

Of course, what is a year without regrets? I have plenty. Up to this very moment, I regret many of the paths I took, and continue to punish myself by overthinking the “what if” scenarios.

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Next stop.

But I hurdled the obstacles. I made methods out of the madness. Although self-generated contradictions and persistent doubts crept in, I managed to pull out of the chaos and regain my bearings. It wasn’t easy. I had to do it the hard way. I had to find myself outside my comfort zone; I had to do things I did not know what to do. Most of the time, I was stuck in an unpleasant situation. But it did me well if only because the bad things made me certain about my pleasures, my passions, and my profundities.

I met people. I talked to new people. This was a huge leap in self-confidence for a man who cannot be bothered to start any form of small talk. God knows how badly some conversations went. Yet, these were necessary mistakes, hell, even necessary evils, to equip me in social situations. Once again, even more lessons.

I took risks. I took risks against my better judgement. I plunged into complete unknowns. The metaphor applies strikingly well in terms of my less than stellar, romantic life. I finally had the guts to open up myself to someone for the first time, even if it meant being demonized by subtext, or crushed by an onslaught of other difficulties which come with love. I learned even more about myself in letting my defenses and inhibitions go. No, not in their entirety. After all, a man has to keep a part of himself only to himself. It’s a safety precaution I have always applied. While I may be criticized for holding back, it’s precisely this strategy which has afforded me the emotional stability most people don’t posses. I have enough will and self-truth to weather the extremes of human emotion.

Against the backdrop of my failures and victories – including my minor achievements – I discovered I am far more practical than I would like to admit. Maybe too pragmatic for my own good, or for other’s good. But it has been this desire to living a life with control – and ending up losing much of it throughout the year – which has enabled me to embody a new spirit, or acquire an attitude that could meet the bigger problems I will most definitely confront in the coming years. I cannot be dependent on one person. I cannot rely on others for happiness.

This year, quite simply, made me stronger. For the first time, I actually believe I can do things which I always thought were too Herculean, and I could prove my self-imposed limitations wrong. While optimism can be dangerous, I do hope the new year will bring with it a restored sense of calm, even more stability now that I have laboured for the groundwork of a more mature, practical life. Sacrifices were inevitable. I had to forego my own joys, my own pleasures, in order to achieve the better self I, modesty aside, believe I am now.

But isn’t that what every new year entails us to be? To be better. To be stronger.

I have an aversion towards New Year’s resolutions. They are pointless. While I do admire those with sufficient will to fuel their follow-throughs, I don’t make bucket lists of what I’m supposed to, nor do I let other people tell me how I should spend my life. I only have one. Why should I worry uselessly if I’m not meeting a to-do list (I’m looking at Thought Catalog derogatorily)? All I know is:

There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.

– Ernest Hemingway

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