Life | Another Year of Growth

Good morning, everyone! I left this post to catch dust in my drafts for a while now and I wanted to post it on the first day of the year, but that clearly didn’t happen. What you will be reading next is basically an extended version of my New Year post on my private Instagram account as here I wanted to highlight some of my best memories in 2017.

When a dream started to become a reality, I couldn’t help but think of the times when I was at my lowest, all of which culminated into sporadic flashbacks of me as an angsty teenager.

Suddenly, I had wished that I could tell her that everything would fall into place with time, patience and determination.

That everything would be all right.

That everything I do would lead me somewhere as surreal and far-fetched of a dream as the hall of one of the most heavily guarded places in the world or the queue to obtain my graduation gown before my convocation.

Of course, I could never prepare myself for last year’s harsh trials and tribulations, testing me in ways that had shaken me to the core and amplified the inner voices of my self-doubt. There were so many uncertainties and drastic changes to cope with that my grip on the gossamer thread of faith was loosening and I found myself plunging into what I could only describe as a never-ending abyss.

Despite the past year being a difficult and mentally crippling one, it had also been the most rewarding.

Here’s a recap of my highlights this year:

1. Graduated with Honours.

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I wasn’t sure that I would make it through my final year because of the countless times when I almost gave up, especially with the never-ending pressure and avalanche of workload from what felt like everywhere. But alhamdulillah, I graduated with Upper Second Class Honours in BA Philosophy and Politics from the University of Essex.

2. Selected for YSEALI Academic Fellowship for Fall 2017 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Group Photo
YSEALI Academic Fellows for Fall 2017 from UNO at the U.S. Capitol State Building.

In July 2017, I received an e-mail announcing that I had been selected as a principal candidate for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement for Fall 2017 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for five weeks.

To say that I had some of the best weeks of my life would be an understatement. It felt more like a dream than anywhere else I had ever been in. I would really love to write more about my whole five weeks there because there are tons of takeaways that I want to share.

3. Ramadhan and Syawal with my best friends.

Eid Mubarak 2017
A photo with my best friends.

I had never spent Ramadhan outside of Brunei before, but I wasn’t completely sad either because I knew that my loved ones would be around. For a few days, I went to Birmingham for the last time to visit Aisyah which saw us cooking like no tomorrow.

There is truly nothing else like a home-cooked meal by a loved one to cure the increasing homesickness that I was inflicted with at every sungkai, which extended to as far as Eid Mubarak.

But thankfully, Hallie thought that it would be a brilliant idea to visit her aunt in Munich and spend Eid Mubarak together, feasting on the rich and satisfying Indonesian cuisine filling me up with love.

4. Brunei Young Global Thinkers Network

Founded by Waly who brought us together as a team, we began our journey in leading global conversations among youths in Brunei. You can find out more about by visiting our pages on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter!

5. Landed my first job as a graduate!

Coming back from the States saw me cooped up in my room throughout the following four weeks while lurking around JobCentre’s website every single day until I was finally called for an interview for different I-Ready positions.

I-Ready is a paid internship programme initiated by the Energy and Industry Department of the Prime Minister’s Office to give graduates an opportunity to gain experience in both public and private sector.

After nearly two months of unemployment, I finally landed an internship under I-Ready with Kaleidoscope Studio and it was such a great way to end my 2017! Everyone is so nice and there are tons of community-focused events in the pipeline in 2018. If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is!

6. More trips outside of Colchester and London!

Being the BSUnion president made me an occasional Londoner. So, I made it a point to travel elsewhere in the UK. The list of places that I visited (including transits) wasn’t as extensive as I would like it to be, but it was a list that I was proud of:

  • Cardiff
  • Leeds
  • Bristol
  • Exeter
  • Norwich
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Oxford
  • York
  • Brightlingsea

7. First Trip with S.O.

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To celebrate the end of our exams, we took a short trip to Luxembourg and check out the Green Heart of Europe. Will have to leave out the details because I think this trip deserves its own post!

In a nutshell…

I learned more about myself and the people around me.

I found hope and home in the most unlikely of places.

I was constantly reminded to never take anything or anyone for granted.

Indeed, there was nothing like 2017.

So, here I am, more hopeful and optimistic for the new year. With an open heart and an open mind, I have never felt more resolute to venture into another unknown that is 2018 and I can’t wait to experience all that it has in store for me.

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