2016 in Review


despite publishing my 2015 reflection exclusively on medium,
i’m fitting in my final 2016 posts on wordpress before moving entirely
to a medium (pun intended) without as much visually creative freedom
that i  t o t a l l y  haven’t been taking advantage of
. . . until now 🙂

✩  enjoy this journey back through my 2016   ✩

(best viewed on desktop!)


i was a mess.
i was kept so busy
from work—workworkwork . . . money?,
from people visiting—must. appear. fine,
that i was blinded from the fact that
i was not fine.

my body tried to tell me.
i rang in the new year in a watsons buying cough meds.
then the night before my dad arrived,
i broke out in hives, so i trekked through pouring rain
(or what felt like my tears from the previous night)
to the hospital the next morning.
it could’ve been due to the harsh cleaning products used
by the middle-aged lady i hired via wechat to come clean my apartment,
or because i just needed a break.

my only relief
was one week in taipei for spring festival.
my first time traveling solo,
and i loved it.

but it also meant prolonging the realization to hit
that i still needed real time for myself.
this trip served only as temporary respite.

Beitou selfie

and when i returned,
my mind could only focus on what was next:
high school friend visiting,
madonna concert with her and my boss,
interview with wechat product manager,
tv station stress (remind me to tell you
about how i hosted a fucking sports show),
boyfriend visiting,
event presentation,
weekend trips to hong kong . . .

all within a span of a few weeks.
so much to think about,
absolutely no time to think for myself,

— slowly —
even my attempts at keeping up appearances
were slipping.

oh how badly i needed
a break . . .


the ability to pinpoint precise turning points can be difficult. thankfully, i knew exactly what helped me turn the page. i started going to a new gym that offered wildly fun lesmills classes, and i even got a personal trainer. both the intensity and joy from exercise started making me think about taking care of myself again. to be sure, i was still a mess (relationship ended . . . ), but the fog was starting to clear, and i could see myself wanting to branch out and improve myself.

Saturday rock climbing in Wushan, Guangzhou

i joined a photography tour through a semi-remote village, meeting some people that i ended up ghosting (LOL #realtalk, people are creepy); i went rock climbing outdoors; i journeyed across town with coworkers for hot pot and KTV; i started looking into grad school more seriously; i ran my first-ever 10k; i signed up for HSK prep classes and studied enough to pass HSK 5 level of mandarin certification; i finally ombréd my hair; i was finally beginning to produce videos i was proud of; and best of all, i was able to look forward to returning home for the first time, even for just 10 days.


by summertime, things had been looking up.

i no longer had to host a shitty sports show;
my mentor leaving the tv station after 10 years
actually made my own decision to leave for good much easier;
i had a wonderful whirlwind of a time back in the states;
and i finally had things to look forward to.

i had escaped china briefly,
only to return and realize
i was to escape again soon.

Griffith Observatory LA

but before i left that side of the world,
i made sure to travel as much as possible,
going to hong kong, south korea, and guangxi.
i would miss the ease of travel;
the food—oh, the food;
the conveniences unique to asia;
but little else—
memories i didn’t want to remember
became increasingly unwelcome.
so i savored my last chances
to enjoy high-speed trains,
delicious and cheap cuisines,
and using wechat for everything.

and then there were the dreams,
that warned of the deeply rooted pain
and confusion and longing.
no longer could i suppress them.

by september, i was so ready to return home,
see my family, breathe clean air, and worry
just a little less.


my first few months of being home didn’t actually involve that much of enjoying home, but rather cramming for the GRE and applying to grad schools. sure, i made the most of the clean air by running in parks again, i enjoyed the food and netflix binges i had missed, and i shopped more than i had in the year overseas. but as the temperatures dropped and weeks counted down toward deadlines, i reverted to neglecting to take care of myself, and it took me until after submitting applications to realize this.

Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia, MD

as december came, i became increasingly restless. i preoccupied myself with applying to job after job, convinced that i had to work for companies that frankly do not give a shit about me. i felt uncomfortable with the emptiness of 2017 before grad school.

i forced myself to treat travel as the last resort, because not working felt like failing. a job meant safety and respect—even if my applications to unpaid internships said otherwise. i didn’t want to feel like i failed.

gradually, however, i made peace.


the last chapter is the hardest to write about,
because this is where i am now:
i am at peace with traveling instead of working,
i am working on taking better care of myself, my health, the people i love.

Eva's graduation dinner at Charleston, Baltimore

i feel better prepared entering 2017
than i was entering 2016.
while i recognize that i will continue to fall,
i will pick myself back up again.

i am working on caring less about what others think,
because fuck what others think.
these fears make life so much less exciting,
preventing us from doing things we should,
or worse, forcing us do things we shouldn’t.

i want to focus on what makes me happy,
and for the next few months, that’s spending time
with people who make me happy, who support me,
and who make me want to be a better person,
and with myself.

Eva's graduation from Towson

2016, you taught me how to become a better person.

2017, let me practice being one.


thanks to alex thomas for the inspiration,
canva for making design easy,
CSS border styles for the fun,
and YOU for reading and keeping me going ❤
wish you all a happy new year (go, roosters :P)
» continue to follow my journey on medium