If I had to summarise the past year into a couple of words, I think I would say that 2019 was a “rollercoaster of emotions” — there really were some peaks, troughs, and a fair few twists and turns.
When I reflect back on how my second year of university has gone, I see a lot of growth that has positively impacted my personal life. It has truly been a long and reflective journey, something that happens so often in this particular learning environment. However, I’ve come to embrace it, not only as a means of becoming a better person, but also framing and reframing experiences in a way that is meaningful to me and those around me. I think the entire process has grown on me a little, and even early-2018 me would probably have not seen this coming.
This year also saw my involvement (once again) in student volunteering in a peer mentor role. Diving in head-first, I didn’t think I would be able to contribute what I did at the beginning of the year, but having had the privilege of being a part-time student with lots of free time on one’s hands meant that I was happy to take on more responsibilities. I’ve benefited a lot from the experience and given that I’ve accepted the role of a trainer, means that 2020 will continue to be an exciting year in this space. Does this work equate to I’ll be guaranteed a job at the end of my degree? I don’t hold out much hope, but if that does happen, then it will be a natural progression from all of this time and effort that won’t disappear from the team when I graduate.
2019 brought with it a number of challenges, the most significant being friendships. What it’s taught me the most about friendships is that they can be created and destroyed like *snaps fingers* that. Even those friends who you thought didn’t process things in a certain way can surprise you with some odd reactions, and I internalised a lot of what was said, even if it wasn’t directly about me. It took a lot of venting and deep self-reflection, but I came away from it with a perspective on how to manage these kinds of friendships in the future. Thankfully, it was outweighed by the support of friends that have become ever closer, and the new friendships that will continue to evolve over time. I am forever grateful to those who continue to be so supportive and also provide some perspective to help me become a better person. I also had some pretty emotional goodbyes to some quite important people; change is a natural process, and sometimes it needs to happen for people to grow. I have to remind myself of that some days.
The true twists and turns come from my foray into the LGBTQIA+ community here in Brisbane, and the intertwining of both my academic and personal worlds. I took part in the Wear it Purple Day campaign, attended a number of LGBTQIA+ events as part of Pride Month, and participated in my first ever Brisbane Pride March. However, I don’t think I would’ve had this much confidence to take part in this had it not been for the LGBTQIA+ support group that was started for international students. While not an international student, I felt a strong desire to help the group get started and provide support in the form of a peer mentor because of my own personal experience as a queer Asian-Australian. I wholeheartedly acknowledged the privilege that I hold as someone who is more than happy to share my lived experience with anyone and as such wanted to be able to hold space for those who weren’t able to back home, or needed a space to feel a sense of belonging. That to me also meant that I held influence, and so I decided to channel that influence into becoming more involved, culminating in participating in the Brisbane Pride March. What would this possibly look like in 2020? I’m honestly not sure. I’m hopeful that the group will continue to grow and become more active to the level of comfort each member is happy with, but also challenge themselves to grow positively as members of the LGBTQIA+ community in their time here in Brisbane.
How do I feel entering the new year? Hopeful. Hopeful that I will be able to learn from whatever comes my way. Hopeful that the people that I choose to surround myself with are able to impact my life positively, and that I can help provide my own perspectives and offerings to them in a beneficial way. Hopeful that these 3 years will culminate into something highly impactful. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet someone too? (The latter is a long shot but as Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”)
With that hope though, there’s a small sense of anxiety. That anxiety carries all my hesitations about not being good enough, the expectations that I place upon myself to be successful post-graduation, and the changing dynamics I will have with everyone around me. Those days have happened before, and true to form have appeared this year. In saying that, I’ve been able to look at it from a different perspective — I know that I’m able to venture into the unknown and continue to feel like I can manage the uncertainty of the future with my friends and family, and not just by myself.
Taking myself out to go watch a production or two might do me good.