Reflections on 2013

Having recently returned to Vancouver for the Christmas holidays, I have had the opportunity to think about 2013. The following list sums up what I have been reflecting on.

1. Uncomfortable

This year has been uncomfortable. I never meant to be outside of my comfort zone in 2013; in fact, I was actually planning on staying inside my comfort zone. I was simply looking for something meaningful to do with my time, within what I initially thought was my comfort zone. Despite my initial intentions, my decisions ultimately led me to situations that I did not always find comfortable, but in the end allowed me to grow and experience new things. While it might seem illogical, abandoning a comfortable life and the prospect of a well-paying job for the unknown abroad was a very good decision.

2. Successes and Failures

This year was risky for me. I don’t think moving to Singapore for my internship with ARI was very risky, but the many things that I did do while I was in Singapore (applying for the AIESEC Singapore and AIESEC Canada national teams) placed me at a very high risk of failure – and actually resulted in failure. The initial success of being selected for the AIESEC Mongolia national team was followed quickly by both successes and failures on the job.

One of the key things about 2013 is that I have become more comfortable with the idea of risk – the idea that if I pursue something, that there is a chance that I will not be successful. Sometimes, preparation is not enough, and no matter how prepared you are, you will always be at risk of failing.

3. Money

Money sucks. Managing money in Singapore was a bit difficult, but at least I had enough money to maintain comfortable lifestyle. Mongolia is a completely different matter. Despite working 24/7, money can be difficult to come by. Managing money and discerning wants from needs have definitely been two things that I have been able to learn (somewhat) in 2013. Too bad they don’t have Mint in Mongolia.

4. People

I always found the idea of working and living with exactly the same people every day to be daunting, but after six months of working with the AIESEC Mongolia team, I can definitely say that it has been both a challenging and highly rewarding experience. If there’s anything I can take away from 2013, it would be the relationships that I made this year.

5. Patience

I’m used to structure and predictability, and the reliability that comes with it. When it comes to work, I value reliability highly, because it rarely comes with surprises. This year, particularly in Mongolia, reliability was (more often than not) not always there. My patience was tested to its limits, sometimes beyond what I could endure.

As someone who works in a student-run non-profit organization, I am used to working with volunteers, but what I’m not used to is working with volunteers who are much younger than I am, who do not have the same experiences and values that I do. Adjusting to this kind of working environment has been difficult, and it isn’t always easy to keep my patience in check. Being patient and keeping an open mind hasn’t always been easy, but I think in the long-run it has made my stay in Mongolia a bit easier, and has opened me up to new experiences.

Overall, I think that it has been a challenging year. I’m not sure what 2014 has in store for me, but I hope that it will be as rewarding (if not, even more rewarding) than 2013.

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