2023, Thank You For Defying Me

And so, 2024 is finally here.

I must say that 2023 was not my favourite year for the main reason that I met the worst version of myself last year. And when I say "worst", I mean the most negative, the most ungrateful and the most impatient Cristine that I have ever known. I was very lost and confused- one thing that I have never been in such a long time. 2023 hit me quite differently and it was in a very negative way.

Whilst there are a lot of things that I want "to do better" in 2024, there are a few little things that I really want to focus on. Don't get me wrong, despite all the negativity last year, I can honestly say that I remained blessed. Not in any material way, but 2023 was the year when I finally realised that my Ate Nonia was right- I am blessed with so many intangible things that added so much more value and meaning into my life, and for that, I am grateful. 

Now, please do not judge me when I say that Social Media is on top of my list to do better this year because there is a reason behind this, not that I need to explain to anyone. Essentially, I have been on social media since 2006, way before reels. I started blogging because I was and still is a frustrated writer. I love writing about my experiences and at one point in all this, I wanted to become a fashion blogger. But you know what happened next.

Let's start with reels. Last year, after I came back from the Philippines in June, everyone was talking about reels and how they were making loads of money from it. I was hesitant to join the bandwagon at first because I genuinely wasn't interested in it. But then I had these hundreds of videos that I took whilst on holiday and realised that perhaps reels was a good use for them. And who wouldn't want to get paid from doing what you you've always done, right? And so, I succumbed to the world of reels and gave myself a challenge. As I knew "content" was not going to be a problem for me because it is something that I have always done naturally, I thought I'd upload a quality content everyday for six months and see whether I could sustain it. And of course, I did. In fact, I still have a lot of content in my mobile phone that I haven't managed to upload because I have now completed the challenge.

Six months of daily uploads, few thousands of views and likes later, I decided to limit my uploads and time on social media altogether.  Of course, I am still not monetised. As much as I enjoyed editing videos as it reignited my passion for creativity, I was starting to feel that reel-ing is really not for me. I mean it is in a way, but perhaps it is not the right way for me positively influence other people. Honestly, reeling made me a bitter (not better) person. That person who watches other people's reels and think, "why on earth are they getting hundreds and thousands of views with just one foot moving to the sound of a popular music that can apparently get you one million views?".  That drew the line for me. Since then, I realised that uploading daily reels will not make any difference because people on Facebook, if not the algorithm, are looking for something different. And that "different" kind of thing is not what I can offer. So yes, I will go back to my default, and post as and when I feel like it. Reels took over my mornings and sometimes evenings for six months, and I think I have given it my fair share and it's now time to focus more on what makes me feel good on social media, which I will endeavour to find out.

Now onto blogging. After more or less than 16 years, I decided to activate Adsense on this blog because apparently, you can make a passive income out of it. But because I didn't do my research nor fully read their policy, I found my blog being blocked by Google Adsense because of invalid traffic and click activity.  Of course I wrote an appeal which was rejected, so that was it for me. No more Adsense. To be honest, this really hurt me the most because I could have started Adsense years ago but decided not to because I was not here to make money. I was here to fulfill a dream of being able to write about my experiences and share it with other people, hoping to inspire one person at time. The pain of losing my Adsense was so real that it took me a few months to get over it and start writing again.

Talk about the universe defying me. Perhaps the universe was telling me to go back to the main purpose of why I started on social media. Perhaps I am not meant to make money from doing what I love? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Anyway, a few years ago, a friend of mine made me wait for her for 5 hours. Whilst I was ready to leave her, she begged me to wait and when she turned up, she told me that I am gifted with patience and this is my greatest strength. I held on to this until last year when I met the most impatient and negative version of myself, and this was because of unhappiness with my professional life.

For almost a year, I was lost, confused, miserable and insecure. I felt incapable, devalued, and altogether bad about myself. I suddenly couldn't see my worth as a leader and manager. Whilst I had overflowing confidence in the last five years before this, I completely lost every inch of my confidence last year.  Worst of all, I lost my purpose. I suddenly felt lonely going to work. Why did I have to wake up at 0430, travel 1 1/2 hours to work only to be completely unhappy? For months, I endured this feeling of negativity.  This was the first time ever in whole of my 22 years as a Nurse in the UK that I felt this way. I was not understanding a lot of things and I felt like I was in the wrong place. And then I started questioning whether it was the right decision to change jobs so quickly when honestly, I was quite happy where I was. I couldn't get the right answer so eventually, I thought that the only solution to  this problem was to leave. 

So I applied for numerous jobs throughout the year. When I say numerous, I mean about 6 or 7. Out of this number, I only managed to bag an interview for 3. Very unusual for me as historically, I would be offered a job at the first interview. I wasn't even shorlisted for the rest of the jobs that I applied for. I even went above and beyond in preparation for one of the interviews- one thing that I've never done unless the interview required a presentation. That's how desperate I was. I even apparently did very well at the interview, but I still did't get the job. In short, I didn't receive a single job offer last year.

See, that's the universe defying me again. Failure after failure after failure.

One of the interviewers asked me if I had any regrets moving from one job to another so often in the last 5 years. I was so tempted to say yes, that's why I was interviewing but I decided not to because in reality, all those previous jobs contributed to my skills, knowledge and experience. So no regrets, just lessons learned- politically speaking.

I don't think I've ever been this unhappy in my professional life before. I guess my saving grace was my mentor who allowed me to be open and honest, and listened to my frustrations incessantly. With her kind words and reassurance, I managed to convince myself to be more patient and give the workplace another chance. Besides, I have a few collegaues who made me feel safe and again, allowed me to speak up freely. And of course, my loyal friends who never failed to motivate and encourage me to be patient and wait until things get better. 

So yeah,  here I am, still in the same job- one year later. Hooray. Honestly, I am pleased to say that I am happier now because I made the choice to be happy. Besides, I keep reminding myself that perhaps I will not be able to find this kind of close knit senior management team anywhere else. And also, the owners of the company are kind and approachable, and perhaps these kind of bosses are hard to find nowadays. For now, I will focus my energy on this.

2023 also gave me the biggest heartbreak since 2013. I sadly lost my mother in September last year. Again, I felt like the universe defied me because I asked fervently (or maybe not actually) in my prayers to give my mother another year so I coud see her one more time. Instead, she was taken away sooner. I really have no further words to say. It's just that, there are a few things that I wished I did for my mother when she was still alive. But I guess life is like that eh? You always want to do things for others but you never do. Perhaps, this is one of the things I need to prioritise on my "to do better" list for 2024.

Work sadly consumed me mentally and emotionally last year. It drew some serious anxieties, uncertainties and regret. And that's just one aspect of my life. At one point it almost became all too much. But the good thing is, we are still here.

I'm sure the universe defied me last year to pull me back together and remind me of the few things that I may have forgotten:
- that my purpose (this time) did not depend on my success as a leader or a manager clinically. It was in the small difference that I made in other people's lives- even it only meant changing their perspective or mood into a more positive one. Perhaps, I overlooked this.
- that failure is not always a failure. It is a reminder to be patient and an opportunity to reevaluate my actions.
- that good things happen to those who are patient.
- to be grateful for the little things. Those things that other people can't see.
- that THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON.

2023, thank you for all the valuable lessons. Now I understand why you were not that kind to me. I will indeed use the lessons I have learned to face the New Year head on!

Tintin x

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