2019 has been tough.
Work was tough; being a one-woman show meant I had to do everything on my own. It also meant that while I managed to do almost everything, I probably achieved nothing.
“No legacy,” they said.
So when the end of the fiscal year came in June, I struggled to write my own performance review.
I felt like I’d worked very hard, but I had nothing to write about.
I was, of course, being very hard on myself because my colleague simply started telling me what I’d done for the business and team.
“You did all these!” She said to me. “Write these down!”
Yet I felt an overwhelming sense of loss.
My juniors in the company got promoted way ahead of me; some of them barely 10 years in the company. One of them even bragged about it, deliberately (and unnecessarily) mentioning his number of years in the company in a meeting with me.
I spoke to my bosses about my year; the feedback was the same. It was a good year. I pick up things very quickly. My team respects and listens to me. I can do a lot.
But I have no “legacy”. What is the one big thing I’m known for?
I felt really angry at first.
The person who really helped me was my HR manager back then. She listened, she made me assess my readiness for promotion and gave me her views.
She recallibrated the way I thought about myself and my work.
Still, as the fiscal year ended and the new year began in July, I went all out.
By August I was all burned out.
Back-to-back business trips every month since March, taking on a new and massive project in June, and then coming home to the girls who fell sick while I was away.
Allie first caught a cold in school, and then her eyelids got swollen because of an allergic reaction to an insect bite. And in July, her face got scratched so badly by her classmate.
There was just too much to handle at work and at home.
It was also sometime in June/July my gastric problem started.
I’d already started getting random attacks which kept me up almost all night while I was traveling. The attacks got more frequent when I got back. I often felt hungry but had no appetite to eat.
I realized it might be because of my poor eating habits. I’d buy lunch, eat at my desk, someone would come and talk to me about work, and by the time we finish talking, the food would have turned cold / I’d lose interest in eating.
I drank 2 cups of coffee almost everyday, and when I was on business trips, I would drink coffee, coke, sparkling water.. anything that would perk me up. Not realising that these are all bad for the gastric.
I was also feeling stressed at work. The big project cost a lot of money, the design and analysis of it was complicated, and yet I was told to do it quickly.
As the weeks wore on, I bit the bullet and saw a GP. I also pushed back on the timeline of the project. It was impossible to deliver in August or even September with so many stakeholders and with such complexity.
I eventually had to see a specialist and went though an endoscopy. I was diagnosed with gastritis. I was given medicine over a few months.
Some days were good and some days were bad.
I stopped drinking coffee and any kind of caffeine completely. I stopped drinking carbonated water. I stopped taking very spicy food.
It was hard going through all these, but the blessing in disguise was how it made me stop and recalibrate myself.
I’ve always believed that my health and my family are more important than work, but I wasn’t able to put a hold on myself.
I don’t need a promotion to prove my worth, but I felt compelled to work towards it because I don’t think I’m less competent than the guys who got promoted ahead of me.
The whole talk about “legacy” and whatnot made me realize how I need to work smart, and adjust my effort according to the task. I’m ok to finish this fiscal year without a big accomplishment to my name, but I shouldn’t feel like I’ve done a lot for nothing.
As my manager puts it, I should chart my own path and not compare myself with others.
It’s still a journey but I’m glad that the whole health scare has made me more conscious, not only about what I do but also how I think.
My family, close friends and the hubs have been my strongest pillars of support. My bosses and coworkers have been really kind and understanding.
I’m so thankful for them.
2019 was also the year I spent thinking about my dad and his passing.
I’ve never written about it because it was something I just could not bear to.
Everytime I hear the lift door open, I half expect him to show up at our door.
Everytime I see a moth or a butterfly at our family gatherings, I speak to it silently in my heart, “Father, is that you? How are you? We are well. I hope you are happy too. I miss you and I love you.”
I’m thankful to have my father-in-law who, despite his poor health, continues to help and support us, whether it is buying waffles (and lots of fish) for the girls or bringing me his own medicine for gastric problems.
The girls are growing up so fast. I love coming home to their chatter and banter everyday.
They are so different, yet so similar. I feel like I’m getting to know them better and better each day.
Clarissa is sweet, thoughtful and kind, with a streak of cheekiness. She’s sensitive and cautious, yet expressive and hilarious once she gets comfortable with you.
Allie is cheeky, adventurous and direct. She says whatever she wants (“Go away, Mummy!” 😂) and does whatever she wants, often throwing caution to the wind. Yet when the occasion calls for it, she can be very sweet and kind too. When Clarissa cries or hurts herself, Allie would drop everything she’s doing, run to her and comfort her.
It’s nice to see how much they complement and complete each other.
I hope they’d always be close.
I don’t have grand dreams for 2020.
I just want my family and loved ones to be healthy and happy.
I hope the hubs takes care of his health and watches his diet. I hope he can be happy at work.
Sometimes I’m annoyed by how he is always playing games on his phone. But I guess that’s his way of disengaging from work.
I hope he finds something that gives him tremendous satisfaction.
I hope we have more couple time together. It’s hard when I’m feeling tired and sick half the time so I’d start by getting my health and energy back. 💪
I hope I’ll sleep better. I’ve been sleeping early but waking up at 3am. It’s crazy. I need to STTN like we expect babies to. 😂
I’ve been going to the chiropractor for a few months now. My neck is still stiff because of my bad sleeping posture but my back has improved. I no longer feel that shooting pain in my tailbone.
I hope to start exercising again, and to read more avidly.
I hope the girls continue to enjoy school, but more importantly, stay healthy.
The reason why I’m up at 5am writing this post is because Clarissa woke up at 4am with a bleeding nose. According to her PD, she has a very sensitive nose. So she’s prone to nose bleeds whenever the temperature changes or when she does rigorous exercises.
Allie has been having a runny nose and/or cough on and off for the longest time. She’s still picky with food. And she has problems pooping.
The good thing about her is that she’s carefree and forgetful. She goes through a difficult and hard poop, cries and cries and cries, but she forgets about it soon enough to be willing to try to poop again. 😂
Clarissa used to be so scared of the pain she’d twist her legs to prevent the poop from coming out. Which made it even worse. 😭
I hope to take them outdoors more often. I’m guilty of being too put off by heat and humidity. And being so tired I simply give them screen time.
Even a quick playground run is good.
It makes me happy to see them happy.
I think it all starts with getting our health right so we have the energy to do more outside of work.
I hope I’ll be kinder to myself.
2019 hasn’t been the kindest but there were still plenty of good and happy moments.
More importantly it gave me a chance to rethink and really walk the talk on my priorities.
Time to reset, and to restart in 2020.
Happy new year and happy new decade!