Reflections on 2019- 5 mins
2019 was my favorite year yet. My three words of the year were engage, patience, and depth.
It started off rocky. I turned 20 at the beginning of January. Every year, I feel inexplicably melancholy during my birthday; this year, it was even more profound. It was a lovely day, filled with people who mean the world to me, but when the evening came, I became more aware of my mortality, of the precious time we have, and the little I’ve done in my life and will likely do.
2019 was a year of exploration, but also one of focus. It was a year of saying no in order to say yes to what I really wanted. It was a year of pushing away negativity and anxiety, but it was a year of letting in what mattered. It was a year of feeling a little less lost, a little more certain, and a lot more happy.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Leverage your mental energy by focusing on what progresses you towards your vision—and be ready to accept the tradeoffs. —My wise sister
This year, I ran my first marathon. I learned that what is hard is truly simple—that as long as I can break up something difficult into achievable steps, anything is possible. I’ve seen that sheer willpower and persistence can bring me surprisingly far.
It was the year when I grew, felt inspired, struggled, and made lifelong friends in some great classes. It was when I worked on something that made the hours fly by, that made my eyes light up, surrounded by people who cared—that healed my jadedness and made me see how work can be incredibly fulfilling. It made me realize that the “path” I was on is where I am meant to be, and while I may be a product of my environment, I can still be me. It was the year when I got obsessed with simple living and lived in a tent for two months—when I realized that while I own material possessions, they’ll never own me.
This year, I finally feel more content with uncertainty. My continual questioning, worrying, and overthinking make me who I am—it’s a strength if I use it, but a weakness if I let it use me. Through my internal struggles, I find clarity and purpose. I now know what I’m optimizing for, at least in this stage in my life: learning as much as I can and developing my skills. By putting myself in environments that stretch me, I am exposed to what I don’t know: which is a whole lot. I never thought I’d have imposter syndrome—until this year, when I felt both incredibly stupid and inspired. But that’s what excites and motivates me, because I know that’s what I need to grow.
It was also the year when I started to slow down—when I saw that the hustle culture and being “busy” can be antithetical to the kind of life I want to live. That, as short as life is, we can prolong it by spending time with what we value. That what we value (be it health, creativity, intellectual pursuits, community, etc.), we should spend our time on. We can create infinities in the finite, if we just slow down.
My three words for 2020 are: vision, gratitude, and trust.
- Vision: to not do what is expected, but what is needed. To separate the signal and the noise. To focus, and be in it for the long haul. To make time for art.
- Gratitude: to feel deeply thankful. To continually strive, yet always appreciate. To embody joy and love deeply.
- Trust: to trust the process. To have a Plan A and Plan B, but always be open to changes. To lean into the curveballs of life instead of shying away. To confide in those I care about, and remember that building walls to protect my heart is not a strength, but a weakness. To trust in others, but most importantly, to trust in myself.
Now, for a few favorites of the year:
Some books that stood out:
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang, for its thought-provoking stories that I relished chewing on
- The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, for informing me of the nuances of important women’s rights issues
- Becoming by Michelle Obama, for inspiring me and being surprisingly relatable
- Mastery by Robert Greene, for providing a framework in which to consciously live with purpose and true fulfillment
- The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang, for so acutely diagnosing the problems we face today and offering potential solutions
Articles with advice that spoke to me:
- “A city speaks to you mostly by accident—in things you see through windows, in conversations you overhear. It’s not something you have to seek out, but something you can’t turn off.”
- “It was then that I began to realize that maybe the myth of the instagenius was but a myth. I had gone from interest to interest, from project to project, waiting to find It, that easy fit, that continuous honeymoon. With some projects I had It for a while, long enough to demonstrate to myself and others that I could finish. Then I moved on, waiting to fall in love with a problem, waiting for a problem to choose me. What I had failed to see was that this relationship with a problem didn’t just happen: I had to do my share of the work.”
- “Never put your family, friends, or significant other low on your priority list. Prefer a handful of truly close friends to a hundred acquaintances. Don’t lose touch with old friends. Occasionally stay up until the sun rises talking to people. Have parties.”
- “Resist the rat race.”
- AI with Lex Fridman
- Sean Carroll’s Mindscape
- Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations (esp. with Chanel Miller, Melinda Gates, and Elizabeth Gilbert)
- This American Life
- Talks at Google