Farewell, 2013


IF you haven’t caught the flu bug, which seems to be making the rounds at most offices, you have almost certainly been bitten by another.

Yes, tis’ the season for reflection.

The seasons may not see much change here, but many still associate the end of the year with snow-white landscapes and the urge to huddle by a (figurative) hearth for some fire-staring and sombre thinking.

By now, many netizens have heard of Indonesian copywriter Mita Diran, who died the day after tweeting she had worked for 30 hours straight.

It was not her first testimony to overwork - other tweets have alluded to 12-hour shifts and reaching home only slightly before dawn - but this went down as her last.

Mita was a dear friend to many of my own, all of whom reacted to her passing with grief and bewilderment. We heard the shocking news at an advance Christmas party, and it was a most quiet end to an evening of merrymaking.

Many have responded with heartfelt blog posts (such as Nina Hidayat’s Pause) and numerous dedications to her memory on social media.

Others have reacted in a more personal way: another journalist shook his head at the news, ended his 10-hour shift, and met his girlfriend for dinner.

Our paths never crossed, but it remains an untimely and undeserved end for a feisty young woman whom many described as loving, talented, and ambitious.

Now, the year-end slew of commentaries on work-life balance seem to have taken on a more serious tone.

With the carrot of 2014 dangling before us, a fresh start is reason enough to reassess your relationships in every way possible.

Relationships, in the most traditional sense, are our bonds with others. Have you weeded out the more toxic “frenemies” in your midst, and affirmed the relationships that matter to you?

Less time spent on harmful ties, equals more time with yourself, or more attention devoted to the genuine parties in your life.

How about your relationship with work?

Whether the end of 2013 has you committing another year to your job or seeking greener pastures, life is too short.

Do what you love, love what you do, sure. But above all, love your own well-being. Briefings on journalism in conflict zones are telling enough: “Better a live reporter than a dead one.”

And what is your relationship with your body?

A commitment to healthy living can happen without self-hate, so no more body-shaming.

Some friends have committed to a diet detox, evidenced by honey-hued photos of fruit-laden paleo pancakes on my Instagram feed.

Despite her busy schedule, another colleague is getting active with hours of squash in one evening, and a round of futsal to celebrate after her three-month project came to a close.

On a macro level, what is your relationship with the nation?

This year, citizens turned up at polling stations nationwide in landmark numbers to exercise their right to vote. A commendable showing, but change does not occur once every five years: it is a daily commitment to bettering the lives of others around you.

It can be as simple as keeping tabs on the maintenance of public facilities (try adopting a fire hydrant!) or discreetly checking on the well-being of your neighbour after hearing suspicious, abusive noises.

Most importantly, how goes your relationship with yourself?

No easy answers to that one, but here’s hoping it improved over the course of 2013. Even if this year was less than satisfactory, try and try again - you’ve got a whole lifetime ahead.

See you in 2014. Any New Year resolutions to share?

The views expressed are entirely the writer's own

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