The end of the year is near. After a couple of weeks spent unwinding, eating, and reconnecting with friends and family, I began to feel a profound need to reflect.

Then yesterday, hoping to escape the cold, my parents, my sister and I entered a cosy café. As I slowly sipped on my comforting cup of winter tea, we started to reminisce.

One after the other, we share our 2018 memories – the positive, the challenges, and the lessons we’d each learnt along the way. Of course, they were all different. Yet, similar themes such as work, travels and people emerged.

Our conversation, like a belated Christmas gift, felt both unexpected and extremely precious. That’s why I thought I would now share some of my reflections with you today and invite you to send me yours in return.

2018 A New Year, A New Me

Back in October 2017, I decided to quit my job, leave China and move to Australia to join my partner after a two-year long-distance relationship between London and Shanghai. To add to the change frenzy, I was also determined to give myself a year to chase my dreams of working in media, writing full-time and spreading the ‘Be Beyond Borders’ message all over the world. Too much? You don’t say!

Looking back, here are some of my most amazing 2018 memories:

– Writing and publishing my first two books (aka my babies): travel memoir Where to Next? and children’s story Where Are You From? 

– Speaking at TEDx Melbourne and other wonderful events

Walking a marathon in Canberra

– Travelling all over Australia as well as to Laos, Vietnam for my 30th birthday and more recently going back to China, France and the United Kingdom

– Bonding with new and old friends – Yup, that includes YOU, dear reader 🙂

– Choosing LOVE above all else: living with my partner again and moving to a little house in Melbourne

2018 A Rollercoaster of Emotions

Perhaps naïve and – most definitely impatient – I was convinced that within a year my dreams would come true. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and was prepared to work as hard as I possibly could. Surely such dedication and diligence would pay off sooner rather than later, why wouldn’t they?! I dived into every project, every idea, and every encounter guard down and all guns blazing.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Here are some of the challenges I faced in 2018:

– Seeing my ‘big break’ being cancelled. After a series of auditions, I was cast to be the lead in a play. I was due to be on stage for my 30th. Every single night, I dreamt about this incredible opportunity. Sadly, the director and the producer had a petty argument which led to the whole show being cancelled weeks before.

– Losing more than just books. As an indie author, seeing your books in stores is very difficult. So when I was signed by the oldest distributor in Australia, I was really excited. But, a couple of months later, they went bankrupt. I had to collect my books from their warehouse – 20 were missing. There, a fellow writer who had flown down from Sydney to collect his copies told me “Don’t worry, they are just books.” Feeling like I was having somewhat of an out-of-body experience I replied: “They are not just books, they are my life.”

Looking for a job over the past six months has been a horrendous experience. It took just under 200 applications, a handful of pointless interviews and bucket loads of encouragement from friends and family in order to get there eventually.

– Battling constant and all-consuming self-doubt linked to not having a ‘real’ job, not being truly independent, not contributing to daily life and to society as a whole.

– Being so far away from loved ones especially when facing the loss of a family member.

2018 A Year of Lessons 

Every day, week, month, year brings its fair share of learnings. 2018 was no exception. Some of them I learnt consciously, others accidentally. Regardless, I find reflecting on these precious lessons fascinating and hope they might resonate with you too.

– There isn’t a choice to be made between career, love, and passion. Balance can be sought and achieved by pursuing all three simultaneously or subsequently.

– Everything is transient. Nothing is permanent.

– Each of us has their own limits when it comes to uncertainty. Turns out, I do too and it helps immensely to know where or what it actually is.

– It’s ok not to be ok and to say it. Some of the deepest human connections are made when we truly open up and share our deepest and darkest thoughts.

– A life without regrets doesn’t mean a life without heartache.

– Survival instinct is as real as it is powerful. Facing your own mortality makes you realise how much you actually want to live. Its strength took me by surprise when I woke up unable to breathe in the middle of the night in Vietnam.

– Humanity is the magnificent essence that connects us all. At Be Beyond Borders, we look forward to continuing to cherish humanity and celebrate all of our similarities this New Year! Will you join in?

Having said all this, the common theme and the aspect of 2018 that I will remember the most are all the deep and sometimes unexpected connections I have made along the way. I am so grateful for the paths that I have crossed, the moments that we have shared and the support, wisdom, and joy that you have given me. Words aren’t strong enough to express how appreciative I am. Thank YOU.

Now, if I may ask you in return, what are your 2018 memories – the positive, the challenges, and the lessons learnt? I can’t wait to read your stories!

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