What happens next?

The sound of firecrackers, the sparkle of fireworks, and the flicker of Christmas lights came rushing in my head. There was an abundance of loud cheers, happy faces, tear jerking hugs and long kisses that welcomed the year. Then, boom! Here comes another one.

I hope you’ve noticed; it’s 2018. Time flies fast. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we listed our resolutions and goals for the next 365 days? Wasn’t it only yesterday that we lit the first sparkler that signaled the start of 2017? Wasn’t it only yesterday that we shared a sumptuous New Year’s Eve dinner with our family, clinked wine glasses, stared at our loved ones, exchanged “Happy New Year” greetings, and watched our neighbor’s fireworks light up the midnight sky?

And now, we’re doing these things all over again.

But there’s one more thing, probably the most important, that we ought to do: ponder upon the year that concluded, and look forward to the goals of the year that has just started. Every year, it’s good to look back. Not to sulk and complain about what has been, but to stay positive and hopeful for what will be.

On that note, I’d say 2017 had been my best year so far. It would seem unbelievable for some, but every year that had passed since 2014 was my best year, and I’m grateful for having been able to claim that. For one to go through difficult situations and still be able to see through adversities, landing on a winning end of year, is quite a feat. But, probably, I haven’t experienced the worst yet.

I embraced “Bright 2017” as my mantra, a motivator for when I was facing dark days that seemed to haul me toward a figment. There were days I barely knew what I did throughout the hours I was awake, and there were days I felt I got bestowed with an abundance of energy. There were nights I just stared at the ceiling for countless minutes, regretting that I gave in to the day’s unworthy distractions, and there were nights I stayed up, doing productive work.

But all those blurry days and empty nights led to a bright conclusion that is, 2017 was my best year so far. No, it did not serve all the good things in life on a silver platter, but it sure did allow me to bask in the fun and enjoy some of the best experiences that counteracted the negativity.

It was the year that I started renting my own place in Manila, an idea that had attracted me ever since I first experienced living solo in Baguio City for nine months. In January, I moved out of the apartment I rented with my friends and moved in to a new pad. It’s a big responsibility, since living on my own means shouldering the full amount of rent and utilities, and there were times that the idea scared me, but when it finally happened, it became a liberating experience.

Surfing for the first time was also liberating. I’ve never been good at swimming, so naturally, I would be hesitant to do something that would get me submerged in water. But I tried surfing and did it! Having been able to stand on the board while it was propelled by the waves left me feeling a surge of exhilaration. I think I found my sport.

Of course, the year wouldn’t be complete without traveling. As 2017 was littered with episodes of massive stress, going on vacation to unplug and disconnect momentarily was essential to keeping my sanity intact. Besides, it has become a basic necessity to continually learn about each destination’s culture and tradition, and to get a dose of adrenaline—like when I tried three ziplines in Bukidnon—that gives a sense of fulfillment.

It was also an opportunity for me to meet new people and experience friendly vibes in Visayas and Mindanao. For a naturally introvert like me, such instances are rare, given that initiating conversations always seems like a daunting task. But when new acquaintances started to make me feel comfortable, conversations would go on for countless hours.

Family bonding, one of my favorite highlights of last year, also went on for countless hours. We were blessed to have a reunion in August to celebrate my grandmother’s 86th birthday. My mom, my sisters, and I also went together on a trip, a first for us.

I couldn’t be more grateful for what year 2017 had brought into my life. The past 365 days wasn’t 100 percent happiness, but that’s the beauty of it. Life lets us experience the best and the worst, then makes us realize how blessed we are, and that at the end of the day, it’s our perspective that makes the difference.

Today, it’s time to roll out new plans and set new goals. We may not have accomplished everything we intended to, but don’t fret or regret. What matters is, we continuously navigate our way toward our destination and keep our eyes on our targets.

Thank God for 2017. Time for “Dreams 2018.”

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