2021 Wrap-Up: I changed.

2021 went by almost as quickly as 2020.

But that’s not to say I just watched it pass by. It’s been quite eventful.

I’ve changed. My personality. My attitude.

But my heart beats the same.

 

I don’t know if it’s brought on by the pandemic — with the strict regulation of social interactions and the increased time for introspection. Or the age. But I’ve definitely changed.

I’ve always been introverted, but this side of me especially shone in the past one to two years. I used to be very competitive and aggressive. I was a good fit in the corporate landscape and loved the dynamic pace and the “prestige” of being a manager or leader. Well, I still am in a corporate job, but it’s not as buzzy and hectic anymore as when I worked in advertising and publishing.

I was very outspoken, especially in critiquing, and loved being either the expert or the joker of the group. Well, in a way, I still am. But at work, these traits have been kept to the necessary minimum. I don’t seek out the limelight anymore.

I used to want to be the smart one. But now, I just want to be the kind one.

I think my heart grew during the pandemic, and I just want to be a good person now. Again, it might be due to getting old. Older and wiser, as they say.

 

I am thankful I’ve had a lot of opportunities this year to nurture my heart and life interests. I’m far from being a saint, but I believe I’ve been kind.

I held myself back when I felt like pointing out others’ faults (I used to love playing the devil’s advocate). Sometimes, people don’t really need to hear what they’re doing wrong. Sometimes, it’s just not necessary. When I did have to point out their mistakes, I made sure to offer ways to make them right.

As a side note, people have always remarked on my gentle and “sweet” voice. That I never got mad. It’s also amazed me how people hear differently from how I think I sound. Actually, I do get irritated (and would worry that I “raised” my voice too much) — but most of the time, people don’t notice it because all they hear is that sweet tone. That and the words I carefully choose. This is my personal asset, and I make sure to utilize it in my pursuit of being kind.

 

Meanwhile, I finally learned how to drive, got my license, and got my own car. I was never really crazy about having my own car, but I did often think that if I wanted a car, it would be so I could use it for animal rescues. Well, now I’ve been able to do that. This year, I started volunteering for local animal welfare orgs — one taking care of stray cats and dogs on the vast campus of my alma mater: Cats of UPLB. I drove for them during trips to the vet (for emergency cases and neuter appointments).

The other is a remote animal shelter with pit bulls rescued from a dogfighting syndicate. Thanks to having a car, I can now easily visit and care for the rescues at the Laguna Pit Bulls Sanctuary, which can be hard for volunteers to go to regularly. I am now designated as a senior volunteer!

 

I’ve also continued to practice mindful giving and making donations. A few of my friends would be astonished when I left tips when we eat out, teasing that I’ve got rich. But I’m not. I’m still broke, LOL! But I’ve become less conscious of money and more of the unfortunate inequality that exists around me. I’ve become more conscious (and grateful) of my own privileges, which others don’t have.

How, I can afford coffee from an espresso machine, while the person who serves them probably can’t. How, I have the capacity to order food online, while the people who bring them safely to my doorstep have probably never tried the food they deliver. How, the guy servicing my car at the carwash probably doesn’t have his own car to take care of.

Awareness of these people around me humbles me, and although I’ve failed a lot of times, they motivate me to manage my spending better, to always be kind to workers, and to share what I have whenever I can.

It warmed my heart whenever I handed out a tip to a delivery guy, and they perked up and returned more thank-yous than what the tip is worth. To me, it’s small and insignificant — I’d never think an extra 20 or 50 PHP can help me complete the cost of a new smartphone. I usually looked at my savings by at least the thousandth. But there are people who count every peso, and every peso is a step closer to whatever they’re saving up for. That small amount could’ve meant they could serve good dinner back home, save up for a new laptop for their studying children, or add funds for their dream house.

 

Aside from those, I’ve also been able to explore more, at my own pace, again thanks to the car. While the faraway places I can go to are still limited  — I’ve been exploring locally and fostering my love for coffee experiences. I’m happy to see that local cafes continue to thrive despite the pandemic, though they definitely need more patronage. I’ll try to start a blog series on the new local cafes I’ve found.

It still feels surreal — at the start of 2021, I was struggling to learn how to drive. But now, the year ended with me behind the wheel of my own car. And I’m using it to do good and explore more. This is one of the highlights of my 2021.

Another highlight of 2021 — another thing that changed in me is my outlook on tattoos. I had always thought I would never get a tattoo but this year, I just did! I’ve detailed the transition in this separate daybook entry

 

Now, amid all these changes, as I’ve said in the beginning — my heart still beats the same. That means the “ultimate dream” I had before the pandemic is still very much the same and blazing.

I’ve been going through a lot of detours (and they’re all worth the “drive,” literally and figuratively) but I still have the same main destination in mind. Two years into the pandemic, it’s hard and still quite early to say the path is already straight and smooth asphalt, but I’m ready to move into high gear to get over bumps and potholes.

I’ll make sure my heart gets to where it needs to be this 2022.

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