It’s been three months since my last journal and I’ve been feeling rather pensive lately, so I thought I’d do another reflection blog! Two years ago I wrote one with precisely 2012 characters, which seemed rather short, but instead of writing 2014 words I’ll be dividing them into 14 neat little bullets today; the sad stuff goes in the middle, with the happy stuff on either side. Let’s go!
We’ll start on a positive note, shall we? 2014 has been arguably my best year in terms of MOC designing, if I do say so myself; my Bunny
, and Rooster
are all vying for the top spot on my list of personal favourites. Notice how they’re all medium-large Creatures, just the way I like it! Understandably I don’t get as much time to build these days, but I’m quite pleased with what I’ve done on that front this year.
One of the reasons why I have no time for MOCing during term time (besides the fact that I’m doing an Engineering degree, which is a fact I sometimes forget) is because I’ve taken up rather a lot of extracurricular activities this year. Having finished a course in Advanced German, I’m now taking Beginner Japanese classes every week, which is incredibly fun – I’m in a class full of other Asians who think that everything is kawaii!
Japanese only takes up a couple of hours a week, so that’s fine, and Advanced Mandarin took up a couple more hours a week before I dropped it, so that was just a slightly less enjoyable fine. Oh, and maybe I should mention badminton and tennis, which take up a few hours each week as well, so that’s fine too, I suppose.
And then there’s music, which has been about as good as it ever was, really. The brass trio I’m in is going pretty well, and this year I’ve done two solo recitals to varying degrees of success, so I’m pretty chuffed about that. Besides that I’ve cut down from five musical ensembles to just two, in addition to a spot on the Music Society committee, all of which are loads of fun and I get to see my music friends more often. It just takes up several hours per week, which is, you know... fine!
Probably the most significant new activity is coxing. You may be aware of how enthusiastic Cambridge University is about rowing, and somehow I have become a boatie! Basically I’m the small guy at the back who doesn’t really
know how to row, and my job is to coach the eight burly men on how to row. (I also have to steer. If the boat capsizes, it’s my fault.) Despite having had only three months’ experience I am apparently quite competent at not crashing the boat into hazards such as grass or swans, so next term I’m going to be in charge of the first senior men’s boat of Jesus College, which is a pretty scary prospect! I’ve met a bunch of really cool people with the same boatie drive, and while I do have to get up painfully early on a regular basis, I think it’s all worth it. It just takes up so
many hours a week, which is... which is...
Okay, it’s been getting a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy every one of the activities that I do, but I just have no time for things anymore! I have less time to get my actual work done, and every moment spent ‘chilling’ is done under a looming cloud of guilt. I’d say that this past term has been the most stressful of my life, partly due to the constant obligations and commitments, and there have been several times where I feel like I’m on the brink of cracking. Even my body agrees with me: I have eczema on my neck that fires up when I get stressed for long periods of time, and it’s by far the worst that it’s ever been. It spread a lot around my body, making my skin excruciatingly itchy all the time and causing me to have uncontrollable spasms, and if I succumbed to it (which, after losing the will to fight back, I did frequently), I’d end up with a bleeding neck and several spots that leaked some kind of fluid thing. It’s lucky that the collar stains weren’t permanent. The wounds are slowly healing up now, thanks to my doctor mother, steroid cream, and decent sleep for a change, though it comes back alarmingly easily. I dread to think that it might rear up again next term.
The main trigger happened this summer, on Results Day, and since then my confidence (in several fields, not just academia) has taken a pretty big hit. I spent a lot of time gazing out of car windows thinking about the definition of depression. The time commitment thing doesn’t help; I’m used to being slightly ahead, doing work based on when it can
be done rather than its deadline, but that’s simply not possible anymore and it’s really disconcerting. I’d prepared a mini-essay about work ethics and the like, but I think I’ll spare you from it this time round – this journal is probably already too long as it is. In any case, I’m slowly coming to terms with the disappointment, and I know it’s not quite as life-changing as I make it out to be... I just hope I can remedy things next year.
The other topic that’s constantly been on my mind this term is relationships. There’s very little to report in that sector this year: a crush that I knew was impossible from the start, and as expected nothing happened, though we’re still good friends now, thankfully. It’s just that the topic relentlessly persists in everyday conversations – dates, girlfriends, sex, exes – as if I weren’t thinking about it enough already! It’s all just an unhelpful reminder of the untouched slate that is my lovelife; I’ve already had the ‘Why don’t you have a girlfriend yet’ conversation with my mother, to which my main response was “Well, it’s not for lack of trying...”. I’m trying to be patient, following the “Your time will come!” advice of my supportive friends, but I can’t help but feel lonely and pathetic.
So yeah, it’s been a pretty tough term. I think there’s a lot to be said about general negativity in this day and age: it’s easy to complain, and it’s almost expected for people to respond with their own woes as a schadenfreude offering of sorts, as if it’s a competition to see who has the most miserable life. And hey, I’m well aware that I’m in a more fortunate position than many, but we all have the right to complain a little, don’t we? Meanwhile, telling people about how happy you are or how well things are going gets incredibly tedious (see the first couple of bullet points of this blog entry) and becomes solely self-gratifying after a while. For much of this term, I really wanted to be asked “How are you?” in the genuine
sense, not the usual conversational pleasantries for which “Fine thanks, you?” is the only acceptable answer, just so that I knew that someone was concerned for me... and in fairness, a small handful did once I’d made my instability sufficiently obvious, and then we sat in our kitchen and sipped tea, making things at least a little bit better. I received a cute little card that says ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’, and I subsequently pinned it to my board.
I dunno, I’m coping, somehow. I’ve found myself buying new clothes and games on impulse, for example: I’m currently making my way through Pokémon Alpha Sapphire with a team nicknamed after Smash Bros characters, such as Rosalina the Gardevoir and Falco the Swellow. I also have a new laptop and refurbished bedroom this year, which is all well and good... see, this is what happens when I talk about happy things! I’m bored already.
Let’s switch from things I have to things I’d like, shall we? This is my response to Gale-OneOfMany
’s tag in which we are asked to name ten holiday wishes, which I am interpreting as both late Christmas wishes and New Year’s resolutions. Here goes:
1. Time! Time for work, time for play, time for sleep, time for memories.
2. I’d like to reiterate the above wish. With enough of it I could handle the next 8 myself.
4. I’d like it if my real-life friends were better off financially. I can see them struggling, and I really want to help, but I’m not sure how.
6. The new Bionicle sets look intriguing. I think I’ll get Kopaka for old times’ sake.
8. I’ve always been fond of xkcd merchandise. I have my eyes on the Self Reference Shirt
10. I’m glad that I haven’t become inactive on deviantArt despite all the above. I wish it continues this way.
Picking up on that last part, I think I’m fairly happy with my maintained deviantArt activity. I haven’t done much writing this past term for obvious reasons, though I’m glad I finished the Cantablogger series earlier this year, even if it did fizzle out somewhat towards the end. While I can’t promise any submissions in particular (both MOCs and journals, that is), I’ll make sure I’ll stick around.
In some ways you could say that my activities have shifted from the virtual to the real world, as 2014 has been groundbreaking in the field of ‘Lego in the public eye’ for me personally. I first talked about this in Cantablogger Part 7: MOCer Diaries
, but it’s worth mentioning again: my MOCs appeared in a college arts festival in February, and then later I was the featured artist in our student paper. However, the best is yet to come: in January 2015, Jesus College is hosting an Arts Festival of its own, and my Jesus College Rooster has been chosen to be the festival’s icon! Before long there’ll be posters put up all around Cambridge, each depicting the proud little bird on dazzling A3; I’ll have to make sure I nab one of them for safekeeping. At least that’s something to look forward to!
All in all, 2014 was... yeah, not my best year by a long shot. In fairness, the first half was pretty good, but life has an annoying habit of making us brush the positives aside, doesn’t it? I realise that most of the problems I’ve had this year are entirely self-induced: one is simply the case of biting off more than I can chew, and the others are me moping about things that probably aren't as serious as I make them out to be. Perhaps that’s the key to achieving the ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ attitude... ah well. Sorry for the rather downbeat journal, but it’s an accurate reflection of my mood as of late. Happy holidays to all who’ve read this far, and here’s to a brighter 2015!