2014 has been wonderful. The past 12 months have taught me so much about myself, God, and the people around me.
There were lots of farewells and tears, but the rest of the year made up for that with plenty of warm hugs and good friendships that reminded me how incredibly blessed I am to have people I can turn to in times of need, people I can be real with, people who accept all my quirks and oddities and people who teach me so much about life itself. My family has been my constant source of strength and support; I don’t know what I’d do without them. Being away from home for 3.5 years wasn’t easy, but my family was always there for me despite the distance. They were always a Whatsapp/Skype chat away, and my besties were nothing short of amazing.
2014 started off with me trying to embrace my last months in America, a country that will always be a home away from home. I came back to Malaysia, was enveloped by the same warmth and love by family and friends, and instantly felt at home in their presence. It took a while readjusting to the Malaysian heat after surviving an extremely brutal winter in New York, and I also had to readjust to so many comments from my relatives about my slight weight gain. Everyone that I met in Malaysia would lovingly hammer it in: “Wow Carissa. You’ve gained weight!”
One morning over breakfast, my mom threw me a backhanded compliment: “Oh, your face seems to have shrunk a little. It’s not so chubby anymore.” So I sighed and said, “Yeah, it’s probably the heat here. Maybe in six months, I’ll be a raisin.”
It’s been over six months and I’m still not a raisin. Yet.
Anyway, I’ll be honest. It did take me quite a while to readjust myself — I started scouting for a new church, I was making new friends, I was re-discovering my identity in Christ. God took me through a huge process of change, where I was forced to break down the walls that I’d built around my heart and learn to let go of things that were still holding me back from truly committing to this new relationship with Him, as well as my new life in Malaysia. My parents and I debated for the longest time on whether I should work in Malaysia or Singapore, and I decided to put a bookmark on that and spend all my money on a backpacking adventure around Europe to do some major soul searching because I had so many questions (deep, philosophical questions about life and the future and that sort of thing) and NO answers.
Everyone seemed to know where they were heading in life — what they were gonna do, who they were gonna marry, how many bridesmaids they wanted at their wedding, where they were gonna be in 5 years — and I didn’t even have the next month covered yet. For the first time in a long time, I was lost.
Throughout all that internal emotional turmoil, I tapped into photography and started shooting weddings, pre-weddings and events. I didn’t think I was going to get a lot of gigs, but God was great. He led me to the right people, showered me with some insightful experience, and helped me build my portfolio. Photography has always been a passion, but these people granted me the opportunity to turn my passion into reality — they believed in me, and for that, I’ll always be so grateful.
Well, with all that said, 2014 has been a really great year. I’ve been blessed with a full-time writing gig with Asian Beacon, I’ve developed a new love for running (joined two marathons this year, and hopefully more in 2015!), I’ve met so many cool people who have seriously inspired me in SO many ways, and I am constantly reminded that there is so much to be thankful for, even when the sky isn’t beaming brightly.
You don’t need to wait for sunny days to be happy. I know it sounds cliched, but you gotta dance in the rain anyway. You need to allow yourself to relish in the moment and just appreciate the season because it won’t last forever. Embrace the lessons it teaches you. Like plants, we all need a little rain in our lives. That’s how we grow.
I’m not where I need to be yet, but I believe I’ve come quite a long way from when the year first started out. So much has happened, but one thing remains constant: His love.
I guess we all need to be contented with where we are. We need to be happy with the steps we’ve taken, no matter how small they may be. That’s what life’s about. These steps may not seem like much at the moment, but when you look back on the journey, you’ll see that all those little steps you took have added up to something big — and you know you’ve covered some distance. You’re making progress, and will continue to make progress.
Let’s not forget the lessons 2014 has taught us, and let’s toast to 2015 — may it be another great, memorable year for you and for me! 🙂 Keep taking those little steps.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!