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Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Personally Reflecting On 2019: Overall, It Has Been A Mixed Bag

By Waiching

As we wind down to the end of 2019 and enter the year of 2020 with optimism, belief but also keeping my hopes and aspirations to a minimal, I thought that I would use some time off from work during the festive season, in between the Christmas shopping, festivities, get-togethers with family to contemplate, ponder and harken back over what has been, for me, the most eventful year I have endured. To say it was boring and uneventful would be an understatement, because it was anything but that.

In evaluating everything that has happened over the span of 12 months, I do wonder what difference it would make had my life ran smoothly and had I followed the right path and done all the right things, especially those asked of me. Having said that, I really felt as if I have come so far, and I still have a lot left to offer & to learn because I am far from perfect. 2019 was the year of progression, as I was trying to find my feet and further down the line, figuring out where I would fit in as an employee of the company and store and the strengths I brought to the table through the contributions that I made. But this wasn't easy, as a number of hurdles, obstacles, challenges stood in my way: some, or be it most of them proved to be far more challenging than I'd thought they would be.

Work-wise, I was and still am doing the same things at Costco that I did when I first joined the Cafe/food court department, but also I took on new duties, responsibilities in taking out frozen pizza dough balls, putting in oil for each of them in preparation of the pizzas, as well as knowing how to clean the floor and bins properly, using the can opener, cleaning and sanitising the equipment and utensils and knowing how to change the sauce dispensers. It took me roughly 20 or more attempts (yes really) to get this part right and without supervision. It was quite a leap from working outside the kitchen to knowing my way around it by being part of it and the team; at times, I was overstretching myself and taking on so many responsibilities that I found it overwhelming. I need to work on prioritising my duties and tackling the most important one first before I move onto the next task.

But in honesty, given that I am still working at the food court to this day, I can still be proud of what I have achieved so far and knowing I have made a difference to my colleagues and to the store but also realising I made numerous mistakes, and done things I am not so proud of, along the way. There were times whereby I wept, cried, lost my temper, felt frustrated when things spun out of control & people tested my patience to its limits. Personally, it was rough, it just hasn't been an easy ride all the way through. The arguments, petty spats, the moments I want to forget, these were not only silly but I felt ashamed that they happened, that I had wished I could take back, - when I can't and couldn't. Couple that with the number of people quitting the department (which was like 1 every month or so and great workers they were too), new people joining - and leaving after that, it was crazy. It was a revolving door of change. It was a struggle trying to recruit more people. Never did I imagine it would turn out the way it did, not even during the beginning of the year. 

What I will say though is that in support of my supervisor/s & coworkers, the food court is one of the hardest, and by far and easily the most difficult department at Costco; it's not easy working in a trade that is, essentially, fast food-related (and dealing with irate and difficult members and the stress it brings), but if you get on with the work and do the best you can with the resources that you have at your disposal, then you have surpassed theirs and your expectations and you ought to be proud of yourself.

It is assumed that it is better to hire people who have had prior experience in working with food in this sector; well, I've never done this type of work before I took on the role of food court assistant... and over a year later, whilst I am far from perfect, I am getting the grasp of certain things. Whilst I lack prior experience, I make up with this by acquiring a can-do attitude, I consider myself as being fast-paced, who can also, multitask and I have no problems moving on from one thing to another. I am also a keen learner, who wants to try out new things and to improve on my existing skills & acquiring new ones as well. 

Most certainly, taking time off by returning to Hong Kong and China after a 10-year absence, as well as first-time visits to Madrid in Spain and Porto in Portugal, not only provided me with the much-needed breaks, but in addition, it also enabled me to reconnect with my family ties and cultural roots with the former, whilst with the latter - though moreso with Madrid- it made me appreciate and understand the Spanish culture a little bit more. Resultingly, it wasn't until when I had returned to London that I took an active interest in learning and speaking Spanish as a foreign language. 

When it comes to personal achievements that I am most proud of, they have to be passing my food safety course (on my third attempt of asking!) and the positive member feedback and compliments, praising me for my work efforts. It's a nice thing to hear and it warms my heart to know that there are people who go out of their way to acknowledge my work by seeing me do it, not just my fellow supervisors and work colleagues. 

No year is complete without citing the important lessons I have learnt this year: based on my interactions with my colleagues, I have to steer clear of the toxic ones and to ignore what they say, I have to be more understanding when it comes to difficult and problematic people, who might test my patience and try to see and understand things, rationally from their perspective, in order to get a better understanding of who they are. I also need to let go of negative baggage and past woes; if I have a bad day, a colleague is being an idiot or making a patronising comment to shrug it off and ignore him/her for a few days and let it die down, and by then we would have moved on and past it by then. 

Yet the biggest lesson I have learnt from 2019 and one big nugget I will take away from this year, is that I can't change people, nor their behaviours and prevent them from saying or doing things that irritate, annoy, hurt my feelings or make me upset: they are the way they are and I have to deal with it by ignoring it and them and steering clear of him/her. They are not worth the hassle, the attention: I just need to pay attention to and focus on doing my work and to go about it, in committed fashion and in a professional manner.

2019 wasn't an easy ride and it has been a mixed one: there have been mistakes and triumphs, growth, disappointments & surprises throughout my journey that I never saw coming... but as I said, it was far from boring and I wouldn't trade most of it for anything. & when it comes to working and doing the job, this is the best year for me, as far as things have gone to this day. It has opened my eyes up to many different perspectives, and whilst I haven't made friends at Costco or become friends with the people there, there is a small band of people I regularly talk to and get along with the most, out of everyone else that I want to continuously build on and develop those work relationships and to know and discover a little bit more about him/her.  

Moving forward, I can't anticipate or predict what may happen in 2020 and onwards: much like this year, it won't be easy, but I truly believe each new experience that I will encounter and undergo will represent and provide me with further opportunities for growth, to discover more about myself that I didn't know beforehand and to become not only a better worker but a better person too. I will never compare myself to others; I will always try to better myself for myself: to evolve, to go one, two steps further and taking pride in my accomplishments, achievements, my efforts, despite the challenges that I know I will face and encounter in the future. 

I also want to eliminate and weed out the drama and silly stuff as much as possible and not get embroiled in arguments with other people, because a) I hate arguing and b) no matter how hard I try to stand up for myself, I always get knocked down as people will always find a way to attack me and have a go at me. 

By being in the right frame of mind and continuously harnessing & demonstrating dogged persistence, determination, hard work, but also by being appreciative and mindful of others and coming out of my shell by being open, playful, taking on more risks, always doing the right thing, in being more conscientious & understanding and not be so passive and too quiet, I'm hoping my fellow colleagues will see my real personality that is literally waiting to be unleashed and come to life. 

2019 has taught me many things and so many lessons but through the negative and bad experiences, it is a timely reminder as I step foot into next year that I don't want to ever be that person, ever again. I don't want to go through that crap, because it takes a whole lot out of me, emotionally, mentally & it's exhausting to the point it drains my inner soul.  

I want to be happier in 2020 than I was this year; I want to laugh and smile more, to experience more highs than lows and to give it everything I have in terms of effort, 110%. 

I have so much more to offer, and next year, is a make or break one for me - BUT I am more than ready, capable and able to make that happen by doing the work, and not just talking about it.

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