Photo Creds: Ian Schneider

As I contemplate the year that was, it seemed a good idea to revisit last year’s annual review for 2020. As I read the post, it struck me as to how quickly another year has dissipated by, but also how much things have changed. The tone of my past self one year ago was optimistic as to what 2021 held. Yet, it seemed very much a similar iteration and landscape of 2020 as Melbourne was once again barred by lockdowns.

Though this year was similar to 2020, it had a different atmosphere to it. There was a pervasive atmosphere of fatigue and tiredness to the COVID-19 pandemic where people around me were sick and ‘done with it’. After all, Melbourne was named the city with the longest lockdown in terms of duration.

Yet despite the continuation of adversity from 2020, this year contained much growth – where I would say this year has been my favourite year thus far. I managed to complete my undergraduate degree in Biomedicine through the difficult medium of online learning, completed my term of leading a committee at Melbourne University Christian Union, while reading consistently, in which I accumulated 30 books by the end of the year. Despite the adversity, perseverance somehow managed to stick around.

It would be a great idea to revisit some of Ali Abdaal’s Annual review questions, so let’s give this a go.

  1. If you had to teach one thing you learnt this year that would improve one’s quality of life, what would that be?

There were too many lessons that were learnt this year, but I will share just two of them:

First, is the importance of rest and deliberate breaks. Throughout this year, there were several times in which I felt extremely burnt out. In writing this, I still feel that I am somewhat burnt out from the final semester of my undergraduate degree. In the 3 years it took to complete my degree, it made me realise that life is really not a race in any sense – but rather a marathon. It is not how much one can be productive at a ‘high octane’ rate, but rather if the person has the perseverance to push through and work hard consistently, they will eventually yield some results. This was especially pertinent during lockdown where on top of the day to day events, required the stamina required to survive in lockdown, void of face to face human connection. It was an important lesson to know that one doesn’t particularly need a reason to rest so that I don’t burn out. Another lesson was knowing how to rest well as I learnt that the best sort of rest is to simply do nothing, and not procrastinate mindlessly on YouTube or scrolling through social media.

Second, is the value of learning for the sake of learning. Last year was a year of discovering reading and the value of books, where I managed to read 22 books in 2020. 2021 seemed to have been a natural continuation of this desire of learning, having gone through 30 books. Reflecting on the past year, I mainly read non-fiction and Christian books. Going forward, I think it is wise to continue to diversify the breadth of genres and periods of books among fiction and non-fiction, tacking a few classics here and there too.

2. What kept you up at night with excitement this year? Was it worth it? Would you want to do more of it?

Being in lockdown for most of 2021, the nightly routine of stretching while listening to audiobooks, podcasts or the Bible remained from 2020. This has become the bread and butter of my daily routine, where I would do this every night almost without fail, even when I am too tired from the day, or too late in the night, or even on holiday. This was completely worth it, often being the only highlight of my day, especially during the monotonous days in lockdown. I will continue to seek to do this, as it certainly beats YouTube for sure.

Another habit that I managed to take up was going on walks while listening to audiobooks or podcasts. I found it too difficult to do so while running, where this habit at least helped me get some exercise while getting some extra reading done too.

3. How did you have fun differently in 2021?

I’ve recently been watching more Chinese movies over the university break, where I simply went down from the top rated of mydramalist. (Some movies were jaw-dropping works of art, such as Farewell my Concubine) Watching movies in a language I am not comfortable with hits a few birds with one stone. I could entertain myself, learn a language with its culture and history, as well as potentially change how I see the world. Productivity + fun, what more could you want?

Final thoughts:

2021 has been a year of continuing to build upon the foundation of 2020, all amidst a ravaging pandemic. I am optimistic for more growth in 2022, where I hope to mature more as a human, as well as a Christian.

I managed to accomplish 2 of the 4 goals that were set last year, which was to finish the Bible the 2nd time and read at least 25 books. The other two goals, being Average typing speed of 120 WPM, and running a marathon didn’t happen – where my typing speed has been relatively stagnant, and lockdown made it monotonous to train and run. I plan to really one day run a marathon while I am still young, so it would be great to aim for it again in 2022.

Goals for 2022:

  1. Finish reading the Bible for the 3rd time
  2. Read 40 Books
  3. Run the Melbourne Marathon
  4. Try again for AMus Piano

To end, here is a piece of scripture that summarises 2021 for me:

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. – Colossians 1:24-29 ESV