Xeno Hemlock


2014 : Change

"It seems you have everything sorted out. What brought you here?"

I didn't anticipate that question from my would-be career coach, Suzy. I had just told her the story on how I found out about her coaching and the life events that happened to me in the past ten months. Based on what she just asked, I appeared to be on the right path. I finally listened to myself and decided to pursue my lifelong dream career - writing. Still, my two feet and heart brought me to her place, on the couch across her, only a coffee table between us, to meet her for the first time.

"It's arrogant to think I have already figured it out just because I know what I want to do with my life now. I want a different perspective to show me things I am not seeing, to point out the things I lack, and to tell me the things I need to hear," I replied to Suzy.

Arrogant... I have already figured it out... a different perspective... not seeing... the things I lack... the things I need to hear...

During the first quarter of 2014, I pictured that it would be the year of my career. In my head flew the title of a post I hoped to write at the end of the year - "2014: Career". Last year concluded with "2013: Love" and I desired to make this year better.

 An unexpected book project - Xenanimus "I was engulfed by the salty sea."

An unexpected book project - Xenanimus "I was engulfed by the salty sea."

I would not hesitate to say that this year was better than the last (or else something's wrong with me had I let it not be). "2014: Career" would make a good title for my year-end summary article. 2014 saw the completion of the first draft of my first novel, "I &^$%# My $^&&$@% and &! &@&?!!#* Me". 2014 witnessed the birth of an unexpected book project - Xenanimus "I Was Engulfed By The Salty Sea". 2014 gave birth to I Am Ethan and Her Name Was Nadya. 2014 pushed my writing and reading skills to the next level. You could say I was right, 2014 was indeed the year of my career. However, while I could agree with you that I was right, I was also wrong.

2014 is not the year of career. It's the year of change.

We draw a path we want to take ahead of us until life shows us another it has drawn by itself. As we stand in front of the fork, life speaks the question most of us fear. "Are you ready for change?"

Hey you, are you ready for change?

People fear change and run away from it because change brings the unknown, challenges, uncertainty, and discomfort. But I have learned, and I say with great conviction from my heart on this 31st day of December, that without change we will never grow. 

Change is the core element of human evolution.

When I was a kid, we only had the telephone and the pager but now we have smartphones and tablets. When I was a teenager, I was playing the hell out of cassette tapes and VHS but now we have music and movies in streams of 1s and 0s. When I was in high school, I was studying Photoshop in my desktop computer running Windows ME but now I use Adobe Creative Cloud on my MacBook Pro. Change has always been with us throughout these years.

 The old me, content with just watching the sea from afar.

The old me, content with just watching the sea from afar.

Our hands have no problem ditching the pager for the iPad, throwing out the VHS for Netflix, and ignoring the CRT for the LCD. But when it comes to ditching parts of our selves that need replacing, we have a hard time doing so. I know because I had been there too, years of choosing to remain the same, fearful of change, until the pain of being the same became greater than the pain of embracing change.

Back in 2006, when other people said something bad about me I took it to heart. It wounded my pride and self-confidence, and I hated them. This year, a guy at the gym who barely knows me, said something "offensive" to me about how I live my life, or at least the part of my life he sees. It didn't wound my pride nor my self-confidence. I pitied the judgmental act he committed, for what he said to me about me spoke more about him than me. I shall never again let other people's words inflict me pain.

Back in 2012, I disliked Mondays, I had no motivation going to work, I didn't know why I was doing whatever it was I was doing, I was a robot doing things for the sake of the paycheque. Deep inside, I felt very empty. This year, Monday is my favorite day. There's something beautiful about the busy collective energy Monday brings and it fuels me. I go to work with  clarity and direction. The paycheque is just a paycheque, solving problems and contributing to society is the source of my fulfilment. I shall never again exist and I will always live.

Back in 2013, I wondered why some people seemed to have it better. Why were others luckier, happier, and moving with such energy from an unknown source? Why was I unlucky, miserable, and lethargic, no enthusiasm in life? This year, the wonder and comparison are no more. I am the master of my life and my destiny. I hold the key. I feed the dreams. I make the choices. I shall never lose myself anymore.

There are other more changes, some subtle and small, some obvious and big. Non-fiction books never interested me then. Now, I prefer them more than fiction. The lack of support from loved-ones disappointed me then. Now, I am my own source of motivation. "I can't do it," I often said then. Now, I smile, "I can do it. I will do it. Just you wait and see." Whenever I attempt to recall older versions of me, there's a hint of familiarity but hardly a recognition. That's great. 

 The new me prefers being in the sea instead of just watching. Look where it got me - a one-year anniversary book and a website!

The new me prefers being in the sea instead of just watching. Look where it got me - a one-year anniversary book and a website!

Change is the letting go of the old and embracing the new. The best way to invite and allow change into your life is the acceptance that you do not know everything, there will always be room for improvement, and you are a dynamic being, not a creature that has a pre-defined zenith. 

I let go of old friends and made room for new ones. I picked up one non-fiction book and my library had been changed. I put myself in my mother's shoes and discovered how much she loves me. I decided to love myself and learned things about me I didn't know before. I told fear it would never hold me back anymore and danced with risk.

Even the title of this article changed.

"How's your year?" my coach Suzy asked me four months later.

I told her about this story, how "2014: Career" became "2014: Change". It was a bittersweet moment sitting on the couch across her. It was our final session. I would miss working with her. The progress we made invoked joy and pride in me. 

"I can't wait for 2015," I told her. New challenges. New adventures. New people. New ideas. New places. New changes. I felt excited for them all.

Before I left, I asked we take a photo together since we didn't have any. I bade a silent goodbye to the couch I sat on many times. An image of me sitting there for the first time appeared briefly like a mirage. I walked out the door and headed to the elevator. The image of me in the elevator's mirror caught my attention. I compared the two, the one from the mirage green, brown, and yellow, and the other stepping out the elevator white, red, and blue.

Cover image: World Creases by David Goehring