It’s that time of the year – time to remember. Same as last year, I′ll use a questionnaire.
- 1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
I′ll probably tell it to someone else′s grandchildren, but this year has been rich in stories. The main question I wanted to answer to myself throughout the year was, can I live as a writer? Can I challenge myself in such a way that I return with interesting stories to tell, but without losing my spirits? Something I′ll never forget from this year is making friends with a Thai monk in Chiang Mai. Looking at his precious gifts makes me motivated to move on. All he could give me were religious objects, and he was not allowed to hand them to me directly. I realized that I myself had nothing to give.
- 2.If you had to describe your 2015 in 3 words, what would they be?
Lots of writing
- 3.What new things did you discover about yourself?
When I almost give up, life shows me it was worth waiting a little more. The first such experience was a trip to Cyprus in January. It was unexpectedly cold, I felt weak and ill-equipped for challenging situations. And yet, with the help of my experienced hitch-hiker friend, I could see that my survival skills were improving with each day. All the cold, lack of sleep and fatigue were worth the beautiful moments we enjoyed – our first vegan meal with our first super-generous host, watching flamingos in the company of our new friend and his dog, sharing tea and stories, finding ourselves amid an improvised house party, crossing the buffer zone multiple times and laughing away in Nicosia, and going on a road trip with this song in the background (our CS host managed to remember and find it for me months later!).
- 4.What single achievement are you most proud of?
- 5.What was the best news you received?
I received an IJP fellowship to do an internship at Der Spiegel in Hamburg. It had a hugely profound influence on me as I can now formulate clearly to myself how I want and do not want to work. It was also my first experience with TV production – I′d love to experience more of it. I returned from Germany with ideas for two different start-ups – we′ll see what happens.
- 6.What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?
- 7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
As my friend Ross formulated it for me – as wonderfully as he always does, – openness to experience.
- 8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
It is difficult to name only one, but this year, let′s appreciate one person whose patience and support really helped me a lot – my brother.
- 9.Which new skills did you learn?
Drying stuff in humid climate. Refraining from posting my opinion on Facebook. Dealing with diplomats. Frustration management while teaching.
- 10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
People who helped me in Hamburg – Nicole, Helene Z., Jens, Essam and others.
- 11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2015, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
An adventure novel
- 12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
Everything is a matter of priority
- 13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
Contacting people I really look up to
- 14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
Won’t list them publicly
- 15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Getting published in well-known magazines and websites, first and foremost the New Internationalist
- 16.How did your relationship to your family evolve?
They still can′t understand why anyone would want to be a freelancer
- 17.What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
- 18.What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
Compliments on my work
- 19.What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Drawing comics, long walks
- 20.What cool things did you create this year?
- 21.What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
- 22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Guiding a group in a foreign country, speaking on the radio live from its headquarters, observing TV production processes, saw the conditions in which people with mental disabilities live
- 23.What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
It would be unfair to name one
- 24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
Making a living from my writing
- 25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
That I′ll get food-poisoning in Thailand
- 26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
Road-tripping, reporting together with excellent photographers (see the latest report I did with photographer Dalia Mikonytė), monk chat in Chiang Mai, telling stories to an interested audience…
- 27.What was the best gift you received?
Friend′s patience with my moods and sometimes radical ideas
- 28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
- 29.What was the biggest problem you solved?
Too much multitasking
- 30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
A ‘Eurovision’ of funny stories with colleagues from all over Europe in East Thailand
- 31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
Hmm, the best things came for free, but perhaps a waterproof camera?
- 32.What one thing would you do differently and why?
I wouldn′t take up teaching just for the sake of it
- 33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Practicing almost every language
- 34.What activities made you lose track of time?
Reading Twitter (*blush*)
- 35.What did you think about more than anything else?
How to ‘make it’ in Germany
- 36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Diversity and expat life in a small town where I have some roots
- 37.What new habits did you cultivate?
Taking paper notes
- 38.What advice would you give your early-2015 self if you could?
- 39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
I decided to stop trying to ‘beautify’ myself, and I think nobody noticed
- 40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
Examples of brave people doing great things