This is goodbye, 2021

Alex Tran
9 min readDec 31, 2021

The thing with years is that you only met them once, and you have one chance to make it good. When you say goodbye to them, you never see them again. The year that has seen all of your pain and happiness, your setback and your growth, the year that seems to know you better than yourself, one day, is here to bid farewell. Time is fleeting and waits for no one. On the first day of 2021, I thought to myself, ‘this is my year’ because of all the hopes and dreams I have for it. Now looking back, I would say, ‘this was not my year, but it was a great one’.

2021 was not my year because of all the hoops and loops it threw at me along the way. If 2021 were a boat, it wasn’t smooth sailing. It was more like surviving the roughest storm at the sea to find myself being knocked out on the deck to wake up to the most beautiful sunrise and the most calming water — over and over again. Each time the storm comes, I get more resilient and also more upset, thinking that I would get my life together by now, thinking that the world would get itself together by now. The storm from the outside was mostly caused by Covid 19 and the fragile state of the world that we’re in: everything we wanted to do was hard to execute, from getting the visas to booking flights, to getting on the flight, then getting stuck in quarantined and having no chance to travel, and months-long debate about the vax. Hearing (fake) news from two sides of the story makes me wish I could hideaway in a forest and forget about the division that is happening to our world. It makes me question why is it so hard for people to love each other without judgment. The storm is not just from the outside but also creeping in my inner world — redefining my identity, searching for my purpose, struggling to live up to my fullest potential while connecting to the Goddess in me, showing up for the people I love, setting boundaries with social expectation, learning to live for myself and not for anybody else. Sometimes the storm was unbearable and I wish I could just be a drifting glass bottle at the sea, whoever picks me up can give me a home and life meaning. But hey, you know I’m all about being the anchor of my own life, so I told myself, ‘This too, shall pass’ over and over again whenever the storm comes. When the storm passed, I found happiness and joy from the smallest things in life, a hot noodle breakfast, an embrace from J and Socrates, a nice walk around the block, warm food from mom, a visit from my dad, a funny meme, a cup of bạc xỉu on ice, the nature — fresh air, greenery, and trees. Life in 2021 is all about appreciating what we have, what we hold dear in our hands because when life gets rough and it’s hard to dream, you hold on tighter to what you have. I tried to laugh every day no matter what happens, I seek small things to smile about. I can’t recall a day this year that I was so happy that I engrave it in my heart, but I remember the happy moments here and there — those are my sunrise on the calming water after the storm.

2021 was not my year, because when I look back, there are more moments of darkness than lights. The time from March to June was all a blur, waiting for the visa result and checking on flight status, packing, and getting ready to move to Vietnam without knowing if it actually could happen. Life back then was an endless to-do list of things that must get done in order for us to move on: what to do with the house, the car, the job, the ‘stuff’ aka our possessions, the dog, the family — every one of this needs a plan, multiple phone calls, arrangements, and days of execution. Comes May, we ate on the floor, and just like the state of our apartment, our life was messy beyond imagination, but we were full of hope. I said goodbye to my team at work. We moved our life into 12 Canadian Tires boxes that are now stacked neatly in the locker (even getting the boxes was a painful experience). We left notes for the new tenants and kissed the door of our apartment goodbye. We dropped off Socrates at my aunt for a few months. We said goodbye to our family in Canada. There were a lot of tears, I cried once or twice every week. I was exhausted but there was so much to do. Our flight date got moved three-time, one of the times was permanent cancellation, the border closed. We had our hope up and saw it crushed down on the floor, broken. We also fought a lot, we were on edge all the time and the stress make us scream our lungs out at each other. At the time I didn’t have the chance to process the emotional toll it took on me when going through all of these transitions, and I spent my June reliving it all. That’s why June wasn’t a good month either. I wrapped myself a thousand times over, and over and told myself that I was strong enough to make it through and that it was all behind me now. Although the scar was still there, it is already fading with time.

2021 was not my year, because we spent almost 3 months in isolation with freedom stripped out of our hands. You don’t know how precious freedom is until you have it taken away. One whole month in a hotel room and two weeks in my parents’ house without stepping outdoor. I missed the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and the humid air of the summer. Then another 1.5 months in the whole city lockdown. We sneaked out for walks downstairs in our condo, ran away from local police and security guards, and invented a million reasons why we needed to go outside. We questioned the authority, the government, and more seriously, questioned our life decision of moving here. We were wild wolves living like indoor cats. Each day went by, our hope fleeted away a little until there is nothing left in our bare hands. We cried and laughed at how stupid these whole things were. We thought of escape plans. But then, we turned miseries into opportunities and dived into deep learning, and have acquired significant knowledge during that lock-down period. I took a witchcraft course that I still practice weekly and monthly. I learned to manifest, to do reiki, and read a lot about spirituality, and quite proud of myself for reaching a new height of spiritual growth this year. I’m more at ease with myself. I no longer beat myself up over mistakes I make, whenever I fuck something up (because as much as I wish I’m the flawless, perfect superwoman who can do everything right — I’m not), I make a mental note so I won’t make the mistake again, I hug the little girl in me and say ‘there, there, it’s okay. We all make mistakes and we all learn’. For both of us, we learned to look at the bright side of things even though the darkness was eating us from the inside. Some days are harder than others. Through it all, I can’t remember how we made it through the darkness, but we did. Happy Farm took us in when we were broken and nature healed us piece by piece, my heart was sprouting like it was spring. We got back to our feet and that’s when life got interesting again. I knew that the universe had a plan and we were locked up for a reason, but how miserable and desperate we were. I look back and see my shadow moving from one room of the apartment to the next, trying to busy myself with things to learn, but inside I was lost and soulless, yearning for the freedom that I claim in my birth’s right.

But still, there are many reasons why 2021 was great. The pain was needed for our growth. I look at this from both masculine and feminine approaches, with the masculine way means making a long list of achievements, so here we go:

  • My only goal for 2021 was to move out of Canada, and we did it
  • I learned to find my value beyond my Linkedin profile, my salary, my job title, the company I work at, the number of people I manage
  • Even though we have been in Vietnam for only 7 months and 3 of those in quarantine, we did live the other 4 months to the fullest: We got two investment properties, lived on a farm, met an amazing group of ‘brothers’ whom we are now starting a company with
  • Happy Farm was the start of our lives in Vietnam and it holds a dear place in my heart
  • We found farm stay connections across Vietnam and were amazed by the hospitality of the community online, can’t wait to meet them in person
  • We said goodbye to old friends but also found new friends
  • Socrates is in Vietnam and he brings so much joy to our life
  • I can eat my mom’s food any time of the week. My parents are no longer 30-hour flight away, they are 30 minutes away.
  • We become more Vietnamese by day, discovering the city on a motorcycle and eating breakfast at the market on the tiny stools
  • I connect a lot more with the Goddess in me, my cycle is in sync with the moon, I manifest, journal, meditate, practice witchcraft, and really develop my spirituality this year
  • I have the opportunity to live up to my full potential again, learning so much about the blockchain and crypto economy. Being the boss babe again and feeling like I can take on the world
  • We had our first Christmas in Vietnam, it was a great one
  • We found a gem in Hanoi only 30 mins away from home, where we’re now staying for a week-long end-of-year retreat, it will become our frequent getaways
  • Through it all, we’re still growing strong together, hand in hand creating the life we love

On the feminine approach, it’s not about a long list of achievements, it’s not about doing but about being and feeling. So here I am again, taking in a deep breath, resetting my mindset, and here’s 2021 in a nutshell:

  • I celebrate myself for my courage, quitting my job and my life in Canada to move to Vietnam in search of my soul. It was a brave move and I’m not looking back.
  • I celebrate myself for loving myself for the perfect imperfection in me, for loving myself when no one else does, for holding space for me to breathe, for actively stepping away from toxic relationships and conversations.
  • I celebrate myself for my creativity, this year I still do watercolor, play the ukulele and even pick up bullet journalling
  • I celebrate myself for being in tune with the universe
  • I celebrate myself for my ability to learn so damn fast and for my ability to adapt to any situation
  • I celebrate myself for my positive mindset and naturally happy self

And for all of that, I thank 2021 for teaching me lessons on trusting the universe. Through the highest of the high and the lowest of the low this year, the one lesson I take away is that the Universe Got My Back. I believe that things happen for a reason, there are always lessons to be learned, and no matter how hard things are, I can always send my prayers to the universe, and the answer will come. This realization alone is now changing the way I live my life, and if not for all the hardship I endured in 2021, this lesson wouldn’t be obvious. So I thank you for being you, 2021. I needed this year of transition and learning to find my own path.

2022 might be my year, or it may not. Live each day to the fullest and that's the most important thing.

The most precious photo of 2021 — Manitoulin Island
Fred the VII the turkey — First Christmas in Vietnam