I want to start this tradition of writing a recap of my year on my birthday, so I can track my progress and learnings with my age as markers!

What was I expecting?

Entering 2020 was a big year for me, and it was the make or break year that I was looking forward to since it would be the time wherein I’d find out if I got accepted into the colleges that I applied for. 2020 was the year of starting a whole new chapter in college and the first three months seemed so bright as I was able to pass all the colleges I applied for! The first big decision I had to make was choosing where to go, and it was a close fight between UBC and Ateneo. Because of unforeseen circumstances, A.K.A. a freaking PANDEMIC, moving abroad in such restrictions wasn’t the best option, so I decided to go to Ateneo de Manila University taking up the course AB Development Studies. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been happier with my choice. 2020 was also the year of finally gaining more independence from my parents, and so many days were spent planning adventures that the pandemic unfortunately delayed indefinitely. However, planning the adventures before when I was younger and with no hope of being allowed anytime soon in the future, didn’t stop me from looking forward to the day I finally can and that’s something I am holding on to now. One year of delayed plans seems long when you’re in the process of going through it, but in the bigger picture, one year is just but a fragment of all the time we have left to explore. The outdoors will always just be waiting for us!

Biggest challenges

When I will look back at 2020, the biggest takeaway from the year would be the death of my grandfather. Ever since I was a kid, I always naively thought that I just would never have to experience losing him as the thought of him not present in my life was completely unfathomable until it actually happened. The biggest lesson his death taught me was that you can never truly say that you can’t go through something until you actually go through that something. We are so much stronger and braver than we think we are, and who are we to say what we can or can’t go through? Broken hearts take time to mend but people don’t really tell you that healing isn’t a linear process and the days wherein the trajectory moves up are the days that give us enough strength to go on.

Another challenge I am still trying to overcome is the probability that I wont be able to experience a normal college life anytime soon. College was sort of the time I was looking forward to the most, and being forced to stay home without the experiences of a college life (not academics) was just a huge bummer for me and for everyone else. But this uncertainty doesn’t and shouldn’t stop me from learning. The things I was looking forward to most in college were exploring new ideas, meeting new people, and trying out new things. Safe to say that throughout the pandemic, I have been forced (with all the alone time) to reflect internally and externally, to try out new things to stay sane, and to find new ways to connect with people (especially my block mates which turned out great by the way!)

Lastly, not being able to climb has taken a toll on my well-being as a whole. Not only was it physically fulfilling for me, but it fulfills my mental and social battery too. Not only do I miss the sport, but I do miss the community so much. However, this challenge of not getting back on the wall anytime but knowing that for sure I still will, has challenged me in so many ways in terms of discipline and willpower. Not being able to climb now shouldn’t stagnate the process of getting stronger. Patience is the biggest lesson not being able to climb has reinforced in me, patience that I will be back soon and patience that my progress in climbing will take way longer than planned as I will be starting from scratch. And I guess another way I can look at it would be, starting from scratch also means falling in love with the sport all over again, and deeper this time too!

What I am proud of…

Learning how to ride a bike FINALLY, starting a Jeepney education fund for the Katipunan Jeepney Driveres (PARA! Sa Edukasyon), reading so much more, painting more too, praying way more and focusing on my relationship with God, being able to still make genuine friends online, and spending more time with family and being more present in their lives.

Grateful for…

I wouldn’t say “despite” the challenges, I am still grateful because it is because of the challenges that I AM so grateful! This year was tough on everyone but it’s in those moments that you see the true strength of character. I was really forced to confront my deepest insecurities this year through all the time left alone and home reflecting and I have been writing and reading more than ever. Because there was no chance to really go out and meet people, I was able to cultivate the relationships I had at present and even rekindle the ones in the past! Because there is still no climbing, I have been able to train my discipline and willpower by truly taking care of my body knowing that each day I don’t exercise is a day that I am not helping myself for when I get back on the wall. Because of Papa’s death, I was able to truly channel the motto I aim to live by: be resilient and kind. With all the time spent at home, I am most thankful that the time mostly went towards getting to know myself more and more. I spent my 18th year not “stunted” in growth but steady in growth, steadying myself and my foundation! I am now looking forward to my 19th year, for the new challenges and lessons that come with it and the joys and heartaches too! Thank you to everyone who has been such a huge part of my 18th year and thank God too :)

A place for the thoughts I occasionally make some time for. (felicia.singson@gmail.com)