My 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

15 more days to the end of 2018, and as I’m counting how many days I’ve left (instead of the usual “how many days to go”) till I will be leaving my current place, a rush of mixed emotions just hits me.

In fact, such emotions have been going on for a while now, especially since I have tendered my resignation. I’m both happy and sad to have made the decision. It’s a great and a nasty feeling at the same time to be resigning from my current college in pursuit of bigger things in my life, leaving behind certain things and people I cherish.

This reminds me of when I had to leave Thailand some two years ago to pursue a better future for myself and my then fiancée, who is now my wife.

Read: From “Teacher Ken” Back To “Sir Ken”: Months of Whirlwind, Engagement, No Break

The only regretful thing is to have only opened up to more people at work and made more friends a bit later into my stint here. But then again, everything happened for a reason – how would I have found the time and energy for socialising and sessions of Teh Tarik when I was busy saving up and prepping for my wedding earlier?

Anyway, now that the year is coming to an end, below I reflect upon the good and the bad of my 2018.

The good

I see 2018 as an extension of year 2017 in terms of what I needed to do, and it’s turned out to be one very fruitful year for me.

Like I’ve revealed in my previous posts, the whole reason why I chose to come back from Thailand was to get myself back into the higher education sector – I didn’t want to be detached from the college or university setting after two years of teaching primary and secondary students in Thailand.

Apart from that, I also needed a better-paying job in order to save up some money for my wedding as I didn’t want to rely too much on my parents. I’m really thankful to have been made a full-timer and a head of programme only after one semester of part-time lecturing here.

I felt I had to be responsible – at least financially – for my own wedding, so even though I didn’t want to leave Thailand, I had to. I had to do it for my future; I had to do it for my then fiancée, whom I wanted to marry and would do so in the third quarter of 2018.

Read: The Sometimes Thorny, Sometimes Rosy Journey to Our International Marriage

I have really focused and was able to achieve those in less than two years since relocating back from Thailand, and I feel I couldn’t be more blessed.

Right after my wedding, to be able to secure my next job in the Klang Valley is the next best thing I could have ever asked for. I will then be able to move back into my own apartment which I had not stepped into for two years. I will also have the ideal setting to do my PhD there.

At the same time, Chinese-majority Penang somehow does not turn out to be the most comfortable place I’ve stayed in – it is overdeveloped and hot and has among the rudest drivers I’ve seen. Besides, certain aspects of the island mentality also do not appeal to me.

Despite those things, this little island has blessed me with some of the best friends I’ve had. It’s only in 2018 that I have increasingly come to realise that I do actually have great support in a work environment that is oftentimes aggressive.

I’ve been blessed with a competent programme officer, Aizura, who is always supportive and on the same page as me. I’ve also found like-minded and inspiring colleagues and friends whom I can hang out and have a beer with.

On top of the people, I’ve found my love for Penang’s very own Nasi Kandar – the food is important because it serves as a connecting point that brings some of my friends and I together.

The bad

Despite 2018 being a fruitful year, it is without many challenges. It’s a year where I’ve had very little rest and peace of mind.

It’s a highly competitive and rather aggressive workplace I’m working in, which to be honest is a good thing because it certainly serves as a good training ground.

There isn’t a day in my life as a head when I can sit back and relax. There are always matters to be settled; there are always strategies and activities to be planned and executed. I’ve learned to be very dynamic.

But all these don’t bother me too much. They’re part of my job anyway and I actually enjoy being thrown into challenging situations.

The only problem is dealing with certain individuals in the management who aren’t always sincere about things and consistent in what they do and preach.

Maybe I’ve grown over the years. Maybe it’s due to the amount of workload I have to deal with and the fast-paced environment I’m in. I’ve kind of lost patience to have to pretend to be nice and explain things to people who obviously don’t care or aren’t open to ideas.

I’ve become impatient and easily agitated. I’ve changed from being a complaisant and safe-playing person to someone who is assertive and straightforward and speaks the mind. I’ve become more confrontational.

Those aren’t healthy traits to be picked up, but I have, nevertheless, in such an environment. Outside of work, I had to prep for and worry about my so-called “big day.” There were so many things to do, yet there was so little time.

This had certainly taken a toll on my health.

Three weeks before my wedding in Thailand, I fell very ill, so much so that I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to my own wedding. If that wasn’t bad enough, I also got into a car accident – for the first time in my 16 years of my driving!

But I’m glad I managed to pull through. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Everything has been a great experience and teacher so far, and I’m not complaining.

My 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Come 2019, I will still be busy, but I believe it will be a different kind of busy.

When I look back at this post next year, I’m sure all the nostalgia of happy moments and friendship and challenging times will hit me hard. Life is just fair. You can’t have everything you like all at once. There’s got to be certain things you need to let go.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy 2019.