Looking Back on 2009

Dec 31, 2009

At the start of the year, I wrote that this year would “definitely very much a defining period for me”, and that “[t]his is the time of my life where I have to step up, like never before.” It’s coming to the end of the year now, and I think it’s about time I look back and reflect on how things have gone. So, this is going to be a really personal post, feel free to skip it if you wish.

So, 2009. Where do I even begin? Honestly, it’s been one hell of a whirlwind year. I started off the year taking a hiatus from this blog, because having to be in the army was really affecting me and I didn’t feel like I was in the right emotional and mental state for maintaining this blog. And honestly, I don’t regret that decision.

I was in a really bad place at that time. I was bordering on depression (perhaps more than just “bordering”). My temper was at its all time worst, I was flaring up at everything and everyone, and my punching bag at home was being put to great use. I broke a couple of things in my room as well, flinging them against the wall in anger at various times. And to add to that, I was drinking a lot to take my mind off things and to get me by. In a nutshell, I was doing really badly.

In the midst of that, though, I do think I’ve grown. I’ve developed more resolve, to not accept things the way they are and to push for the change that I want. And things have definitely improved. I’m now a clerk in my unit, helping out with various projects such as my unit’s website on the army’s intranet. It’s definitely a job that’s more up my alley.

That happened around the middle of the year, and I started finding my feet in the army, now that I had a more suitable job scope. But I wasn’t quite ready to come back to this blog yet. The time away from the blog made me realize that I needed to prove myself. As I mentioned at that time, I didn’t want to come back to the blog until I thought I was able to back up what I was writing. I needed to prove, at least to myself, that I had some sort of value.

I struggled a lot with that. And truth be told, I still do. I still have a huge amount of self-doubt, as to whether I’ll really become the person I think I’m capable of being. Or whether I’ll end up a flop, who didn’t measure up to expectations. But worrying about it can only get you so far, and you never fully know until you try.

So, in about August, I finally got around to kickstarting a project of my own, DreamFledge. It’s going to be my biggest endeavour yet, and only time will tell how it’ll go. The site is being developed by Morgante Pell, with design help from Miriam Brafman. The original idea was mine, but a lot of people have played a part in shaping it. I’ll share more about that when I announce it’s launch. But basically, I’ve finally gotten around to trying to do something. And I’m happy about that.

About a month ago, I also started a new blog, Counting the Odds. It’s a personal experiment for me, sort of. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can make a living doing what you love to do. But I think before I try to spread that message, I need to live it. So that’s what I’m trying to do with Counting the Odds. I’m trying a number of different things there, and seeing whether I can build a reputation around the niche of the mathematics of poker. And whether I can possibly monetize that in a year or two (outside of any income from the actual poker game itself).

In between all of that, I’m thinking of applying to college next year. Rather, I’m in the midst of applying. But I’m refusing to do a standard application, because, well, that’s just who I am (actually, no, I have my reasons, and I’ll share them in a future post soon).

That’s how my 2009 has been in a nutshell. Started out with me falling into a mild/moderate depression. After I got out of that, I fell into a strain of self doubt and questioning my ability and my worth. And finally, being able to get out of it and take action.

So, yes, it’s been a whirlwind of a year. I still have my struggles, and my friends will more than happily attest to that. But I do think I’ve manage to come out of it, and to come out on top (kind of). I’ve got two projects in their infancy, and I’m really looking forward to what 2010 brings and whether I can make those two projects successful.

What about you? How has 2009 been for you – and what does 2010 hold?

Photo by A_Gude

2009: The Road Ahead

Jan 2, 2009

uncertain path
Photo by ladislav
So, it’s 2009. And I said I’d be back, so here I am. First off, I’d like to thank you for being around, for being such a support over the last two years. You’ve been an amazing community, and I’m really thankful for all the support that all of you have given me. And now, 2009 is here.

I honestly don’t know what to make of it.  I don’t know whether I’m ready for the new year. A new year, to me, is a time for looking forward. It’s a new time, a blank slate, a time to step forward and make something happen. But looking forward, I’m just really unsure about a lot of things.

As of a couple of weeks or so ago, I’m now 18. And to be honest, I feel quite unaccomplished. I look at some of kids my age, the likes of Kabren Levinson and Jessica Mah (among others), and I feel just quite unaccomplished. There’s no other word for it. I’ve got huge respect for these people, these young people who are doing amazing things. This is not meant as a gripe against them, not by any means. I have huge respect for them and they’ve been great friends, really encouraging and helpful and really nice to be around and talk to. The world needs more people like them, definitely.

I just wonder whether I have the capability to be one of those people. Yes, I have this blog, and all of you have been brilliant, the conversations have been great. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But it feels like I haven’t actually done anything. And I guess that, in my mind, at least, now that I’m 18, it’s time for me to step up. It’s time for me to step up and show who I am and what I can do.

The army isn’t really helping either. It’s killing me inside, emotionally and mentally. It’s not that it’s tough training or anything, far from it. I just feel like 2 years of my life are being completely wasted. And I need something to do – I need a project to work on, someone to work with, something – I just need to know that I’m making some sort of meaning with my life. I need something to live for, because honestly, my life at the moment feels very meaningless, like I’m just going through the motions. And I hate that.

This is definitely a transitional phase, and so much has been happening. I’ve been looking at colleges over the past month or so and it’s really made me have to come to grips with the reality that life as I know it is going to change. My friends are going to be leaving, to different colleges and schools all around the world. I myself will be leaving in a couple of years. And yes, I’m looking forward to leaving, but there’s an uncertainty that comes with that.

But that’s part of life, I guess. Fear and uncertainty are always going to be there. It’s something all of us have to deal with, and I don’t think anyone actually fully gets rid of the fear. My biggest fear? That my life won’t work out. There are times I wonder – what if I’m just not good enough to make it. I know I’m taking a lot of risks. And there are times I wonder whether I lack the ability to really pull it off. I fear that my story would be like the story Peter Cincotti tells in his song “Another Falling Star” (full lyrics here). That’s my biggest fear.

I don’t regret the risks I’ve taken, the path that I’ve chosen. If I had to choose again, I would make the same choices, and walk the same path. I believe in the path that I’ve chosen, I still do. There’s just fear about what lies ahead. But that’s what defines us, isn’t it? The fear is never going to be gone. It’s just a question of whether we can pull ourselves above it, and rise above it to fulfil our potential. It’s not about getting rid of the fear, it’s about acting in spite of it.

And for me, that’s what 2009 is going to be about. There’s so much uncertainty, and it’s definitely very much a defining period for me, I think. How I deal with the army stuff (because honestly, I feel like I’m on the verge of a mental/emotional breakdown from it), whether I can find/create the opportunities to do something meaningful (in the evenings/weekends when I’m not in the army camp, so that I won’t feel like my 2 years are being completely wasted), deciding on the path for my future (issues of college, etc). The year ahead is really going to be one of the most defining years for me as an individual.

This is the time of my life where I have to step up, like never before. It’s time for me to prove that I can do something significant, that I can be someone. It’s time for me to show what I’m really about.

I just hope I have the strength and courage to do it.

*I’m sorry for the rambling post, just needed the platform to get it off my chest, I guess. If you’ve actually read through the whole thing, thank you, I really appreciate it.

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Looking at the Past

Feb 1, 2008

When you watch movies, you’re just seeing a series of still pictures. Why does it seem like smooth motion? Because the eye “holds” the image for a bit after it goes off – ‘persistence of vision’, so it’s called. But it doesn’t hold it too long (if it did, you’d see a mesh of all the different pictures).

We should learn to do the same in life, I think. To look at the past, just long enough to learn from it and make a ‘smooth’ transition to today. And to let go of it once you’re don’t need to hold on to it anymore.

Easier said than done, I know. But I think it would help in your journey through life. What do you think?