©2019 Rachel Wong.

2018 in the rearview mirror


One thing that never changes from year to year: smiling with no eyes. Photo by Eleanor Wong.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope this finds you feeling a lot of love and happiness. I know that for me, this holiday season was definitely amazing (as per usual), but in a special way, this holiday season was really great for me.


This might be a product of what happens as you get older, but with each passing year, I feel like it goes by faster and faster. I start to think back to different events and question my memory - did that happen yesterday, or 10 months ago?


As with previous years, there were incredible highlights but also some difficult moments. With 2018 in my rearview mirror and 2019 on the horizon, I'd like to take some time to reflect on my year: the good, the not so good, and the way forward. The beauty of being here now, at the end of the year, is that I can really look back and understand a little more why and how things panned out the way they did. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.


2018 started in an incredibly phenomenal way - I got to spend two days with the relic of Saint Francis Xavier as it toured across Canada. It was truly a phenomenal experience that helped me to set into motion what this new year would bring. I asked for clarity and patience at the beginning of the year. Clarity, for my direction in life, and patience, for being patient with myself and whatever it might be that God had in store for me.


There were some amazing high points for me, in my spiritual life, in my academics, and my career. I grew and learned so much about myself. Highlights included working at the CBC this past summer, presenting my work at a conference, finding out that I was selected to go to Panama on mission, being published in a magazine, taking self-care more seriously... it was a big year in that way. And best of all, I learned a lot more about where I wanted to go beyond school and into the real world. I met so many great people, made amazing connections, and strengthened relationships with my family and friends.


And bonus, I'm usually the type of person that gets some kind of serious illness almost every month or every other month. This year, guess how many times I got sick? NONE!


But the ups also brought with them their downs, and my biggest downfall was also the temptation to be led away from my spiritual growth. I became the opposite of what I wanted - impatient and unclear. I fell back into seeking validation from the wrong things, and while I thought I was over placing my self-worth in my grades and achievements, 2018 was a year where I placed my worth in my ability to love and be loved.


When I think about what happened this year in terms of relationships and "falling in love", I look back and see that there was never any love that existed there at all. It was all shallow "ideas" of what I thought love was. I tried using a dating app, which didn't pan out so well. Patience with potential partners led to a lot of waiting and no movement or action.


I suddenly became a person that really didn't recognize herself anymore. I let myself become taken advantage of and made sure that I did everything to keep that person happy and interested, without ever taking care of myself first. On top of this, it seemed like everyone was getting into relationships or getting engaged. Other people were finding incredible people - so where was my incredible person?


I began to wonder if I wasn't as incredible as I thought.



But beyond all this, while my self-esteem began to drop, I found myself looking back to treatment and counselling. I decided to take more seriously my health, started going to the gym, taking medication to help with my anxiety and depression, and overall came back to my identity first and foremost as a daughter of God.


This past Advent really helped me to see where I put my priorities and how I had strayed far away from the path. My identity was not in whether or not I had a boyfriend, or my career advancements, or my GPA. It takes some reminding sometimes that my identity is tightly wound in the imago Dei, or image of God.


I have been given the opportunity to share God with the world through my words and actions. There were moments where I hid that from people, including myself.


For me, life has been relatively easy going and straightforward. I have nothing to complain about. But of course, there are always trials. The trials of this year have really shown me how I misplaced my worth - again - but how despite going the wrong way, God always brings me back.


With the new year upon us, may we never lose sight of who we truly are and all the lessons that 2018 brought us. I hope that 2019 brings you a sense of patience for yourself, clarity for your mission, and remind you of whose you are.