2016 recap: The year that proved I could

So here’s a little something you may not know about me: back in university, I liked taking the terror professors.

You know who I’m talking about. The Philosophy teacher who taught in Tagalog and whom everybody advised to avoid at all costs. The Theology of Marriage Jesuit priest notorious for making even the most confident student in the room cower in fear (I do not exaggerate). The Communications professor who wouldn’t let you leave class without debating about the random topic discussed that day—and of course adding to the ordeal is his forcing you to debate the side you’re actually against!

Yep, I reveled in these classes. Most of my peers went to great lengths to choose the “Easy As”, the classes we could supposedly breeze through, but I ended up frequently cutting these classes because they bored me to death and instead of the As that were “promised”, I got average grades. One of them I even almost flunked had it not been for my partner in crime who told my professor I was depressed, hence my rarely showing up for class. (I got a C, which stands for Catholic guilt because I did feel guilty about it for a while…)

The truth is I don’t even remember most of my professors, but the notoriously scary ones?  I remember them with fondness. I think it’s mostly because the classes I’ve had with these teachers were engaging, mentally stimulating. They taught me to really expand my views, to debate, to think outside the box, dissect the details, see if I’ve overlooked things, use my brain to its fullest capacity. Call me a masochist but the truth is I’d take their classes again in a heartbeat. Here, torture my brain again. Please.

2016—the crazy, crazy year that was—has been like one of these teachers.

A lot happened in the year that shook the status quo, that disrupted traditional systems and processes, that horrified and devastated at both local and global scale. Extrajudicial killings, political pageantry, Brexit, megalomaniacs winning elections, conspiracy theories, terror attacks left and right, plane crashes, Syria, Dhaka, Nice, Midsayap, and larger than life artists and icons—Alan Rickman, Prince, David Bowie, and recently George Michael and Carrie Fisher—all biting the dust.

And yet in spite of it all, I am genuinely grateful for the year that was.

The last two months have been the stormiest of them all, and I’m seriously wary about writing this because there are still a few more days until the new year and I don’t want to jinx myself, but regardless of the results I stand by my statement: I am grateful for 2016.

It’s so tempting to succumb to the negativity that is currently my Facebook feed—“2016 enough!” “I can’t wait until the year is over” “Fuck 2016” blah blah blah—heck I’ll even admit to  contributing to the bottomless pit of bad vibes at one point, but maybe it comes with age but I’ve somehow become an optimist and now find it easier to just shift my mindset and choose to look instead at the little things. The little things that at face value may pale in comparison to the big, bad events but are powerful in deflecting all the negative energy.

I can’t really confine 2016 to a specific box. Professionally, it was honestly the most fulfilled I’ve been—freelancing is approaching the two-year mark and I got three book projects to show for it, among other things (thank you, writing gods!). Travel-wise it was mostly crossing off more provinces in the Philippines, all of which reminded AGAIN how truly beautiful it is on home shore. Given that next year is going to be THE year for international travel (gaaaah excited), I’m glad to have spent 2016 going around off-the-beaten PH destinations.

2016 was packed, so incredibly packed.

It was a year of looking stupid and saying foolish, ridiculous things, and being totally okay with whatever the outcome; of forming new connections, strengthening old ones, and putting to bed the ones that didn’t really work out the way I wanted them to; it was a year of zero fucks given and zero regrets; of giving in to the unexpected; of surprising myself in yoga; of feeling strongly about a lot of things (even politics!); of waking up at the ungodly hour of dawn to watch football; of taking risks and learning in the process that sometimes you gotta know when to stop; of stepping out of my comfort zone every single day (Okay, LIES. Some days I spent watching Netflix). 

Mostly I think it was really all about building strength. And when I fell off the wagon, dusting myself off and rebuilding it again.

When we focus on the big, terrible events that happened, it’s quite logical to conclude that 2016 has been particularly awful. But I’d like to think of it as one of my terror professors—it put me through hell, heck sometimes I swear I could hear it laughing mischievously while I went through my crazier moments, but at the end of the day, I’ve never felt more engaged, more awake, more alive, more mindful, more proud, more humbled, and more ready—itching really—for whatever 2017 has in store. Isn’t it amazing that we all have this capacity??

So thanks, 2016,  you’ve been a great teacher—one for the books. You’ve certainly left your mark (maybe even a scar or two) and while strangely enough I feel a little sad about bidding you farewell, I mostly feel hope.

May the coming year be filled with peace, love, new passport stamps, waking up in foreign lands, silly and mind-bending conversations, a hell of a lot of excitement, and side-splitting laughter—lots and lots of laughter!

Cheers, you fools <3

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