this is less of a blogpost and more of a public reflection. thanks for stopping by my little nook on the internet.
approximately 365 days ago, i set out 11 goals for my 2020—complete with objectives, key results, minimum viable actions, and reasons why i was fearful of not accomplishing them. it was intentionally overkill; i wanted to be overly concrete with what i hoped to accomplish. i was determined to keep myself accountable on my 2020 resolutions for once. p.s. if you haven’t noticed, i’ve always been the type of person to absolutely devour self-help and productivity tips. i like to set OKRs for my own life. i like to break down my annual goals into seasonal objectives, break those down into monthly and weekly key results, and break those down into daily to-dos. my google calendar runs my life, and my paper planner is meticulously color-coded for school assignments.
obviously, this year has been unpredictably wacky, to say the least. in the midst of a global pandemic, we also experienced a hotly-disputed but overdue large-scale racial justice movement, an anxiety-inducing US election year, californian wildfires that turned the sky a fiery red, a murder hornets scare…. bitcoin broke its all time high, multiple times… (sorry)
not everything will fix itself when the clock chimes 12 on new year’s day, but it is, at least, a chance at a mental reset.
i know i’ve been incredibly, incredibly privileged to escape the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact; instead, i’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunity to be more grateful and mindful for everything that i have in my life and more.
i’m currently a second-year student at uc berkeley, pursuing an engineering and business dual-degree. i have so much ahead of me and so much to do! and i’m incredibly proud of myself, because i’ve learned so so much and grown so so much this year.
in december of 2019, i was five months into my undergraduate experience, battling my first bout of depression, still trying to change my major. i felt like i was lost and searching for identity and direction in both my personal and professional life—i hadn’t found my niche in crypto yet, and i had just gotten rejected from a series of consulting clubs on berkeley campus. (i still am, but i have a better sense of direction now!)
i remember messaging a few of my closest friends (👋, you know who you are!) about learning to be better at being alone, about the distinction between loneliness and solitude [being alone, ankit], about what it meant to be successful. i’m so incredibly thankful for my friends, family, mentors, and everyone else i’ve encountered along the way. every conversation (via DM or via Zoom) i had with twitter mutuals or with people i looked up to has impacted and inspired me, and i’m so incredibly lucky for the support.
the biggest mindset change i learned to truly embody this year? /to always optimize for happiness./ material success means nothing without happiness. life is a collection of moments; our brains literally perceive the passage of time in units of new experiences.
- i believe that life can be long if you make it so. life passes you by quickly if you make it so.
- “Our study reveals how the brain makes sense of time as an event is experienced,” says Tsao. “The network does not explicitly encode time. What we measure is rather a subjective time derived from the ongoing flow of experience.” source.
- that’s why entire populations are able to experience the passage of time similarly (e.g. march 2020 felt like forever, but aprilmayjune sped by) i realized that, ultimately, my biggest fear is looking back on my life when i’m near the end—and regretting unmade memories, or not having focused enough on my own wellness. i’m scared of losing the one thing i value most about youth—the flexibility and resilience of my physical body… but i realized that i don’t have to succumb to the slow atrophy of my health. have you seen those facebook videos of 80+yo grandmas and grandpas running marathons? i figured it just requires a health-first mindset and a long-term commitment to my physical wellness. the earlier i start, the easier it is to keep that habit.
anyway, i’m incredibly proud of the progress i’ve made this year, and i wanted to share my reflections on the past year. over the summer, i worked my very first paid internship and hustled to get my dream return offer on the Novi blockchain team. i sorta figured out twitter; my circle of online friends expanded. in late summer, early fall, i settled back into school and moved into an apartment for the first time, navigating how to adult, spending weekends with my boyfriend. from summer, i had received my first set of paychecks ever; over the semester, i managed and spent my own money for the first time. in particular, i made a lot of growth in october towards my mental wellness and physical health—i learned to enjoy hiking, running, and biking.. you’ll see my strava activity start to pick up that month :)
a review of my 2020 goals, in no particular order:
- my most important goal: i wanted to be very intentional about my mental wellness. the last few months of 2019 were not the best for me, and i wanted, in 2020, to develop a more sustainable model of happiness and of joy. happiness, for me, meant becoming more confident in my own identity and developing a stronger sense of direction. i think i did all this! i saw a therapist for the first time in January 2020. discovering therapy was life-changing for me. i paid for a meditation app subscription. i also picked up a journaling habit, which helped me become much more in-tune with the state of my head. furthermore, though, i also wanted to better at identifying the things and activities that made me happy. as lame as it sounds, i feel like i never had a good answer to “what do you like to do outside of work?” this goal is very closely related to:
- my second most important goal: prioritize my physical wellness. this is generally a pretty general and all-encompassing goal: like i did every year, i wanted to exercise more frequently, drink more water, sleep more, take care of my skin, and remember to eat regular meals. this year, though, i actually did it!!! especially as someone who never particularly identified as a super-active or outdoorsy person, i learned to enjoy hiking, biking, running, and going on walks. i ran my first 5k, ever! i prioritized self-care over work sometimes. i fixed my skincare habits. these all necessitate a whole other post. if i had to pick something i did this year that i’m the most proud of, it’s this. i do have to thank my boyfriend, though—if it wasn’t for him showing me his favorite hiking trails, recommending a bike model, teaching me to bike, and encouraging me to be active, i don’t think any of this would have happened. [note to self: date competitive cyclist good]
- i wanted to focus on learning from my classes, even if my grades weren’t strong or my change-of-major didn’t work out. when sp19 and fa20 grades came out though, i definitely wasn’t disappointed, especially given the remote learning and my growth elsewhere. i was also able to change my major! (lfg!!) and learned lots of new things in my data structures, art history, and machine structures classes. not half bad :-)
- i also wanted to explore technical side projects to learn new skills—specifically in blockchain dev and in web dev. i honestly was never really a big code-new-projects-for-fun person, and the sweatiness of an overnight collegiate hackathon never particularly really appealed to me. so i wanted to change that this year and to take steps towards becoming a better developer. i didn’t quiiiite achieve this goal at the degree i hoped i would, but i’ll still give myself some credit: i dabbled in html/css and jekyll to create this website, i dabbed in react, and i dabbed in solidity. other technical projects that don’t quite qualify as “side projects” include the work i did at facebook last summer and in my compsci classes.
- on top of that, i wanted the work i was doing to be relevant, and i wanted to be more of a contributor than a consumer. specifically, i wanted to build 3 things that each impacted at least 20 people, and to build 1 thing that impacted at least 100. i think i did this! the things i created didn’t actually end up being technical in nature like i had imagined, but i’m still very proud of them nonetheless. joining she256 was one of the best decisions i made in college. it’s been a phenomenal experience and opportunity to both learn about blockchain and contribute to a cause i cared very strongly about. i led efforts towards building a career platform for our community, helped recruit and onboard multiple new team members, and built community. at pantera, i published multiple blogposts and built internal platform support for our portfolio companies.
- in my first semester of college in fall 2019, i realized it was super easy to slip out of contact with my closest friends from high school. i know life happens, and lots of friendships come and go, but these were the type of friends i imagined at my wedding day. i wanted to prioritize those friendships and to keep them in my life. the pandemic obviously threw a wrench into my social plans for the year, but it also forced me to reflect on who i chose to include in my covid bubbles and who i’d proactively reach out to facetime. this meant i unfortunately fell out of contact with many friends in the dorms, dining halls, or class, but i’ll blame the pandemic for that—and i look forward to seeing them all again very soon :)
- i unfortunately stopped reading for fun after middle school, and it’s been a long while since i picked up and finished a book for my personal enjoyment. “read more books” was always on my NY resolution every year, and yet i probably only finished 2 personal-enjoyment books throughout all of high school. in 2020, though, i finished 3.5 books: zero to one, uncanny valley, atomic habits, and (part of) pachinko. that’s 7x more than i normally read a year!
- i also wanted to be a more confident public speaker! obviously, covid didn’t allow for in-person events through the year. i’ll still give myself credit for this though, given the circumstances: i moderated a panel for the first time, and generally overcame my anxiety of presenting myself openly to the public. (as demonstrated from what you’re currently reading)
- adultingggg was my last and final goal. this was less of a goal and more of a necessity, since i knew last december that i’d be moving into my own apartment. not much to say here, tbh - learned lots of new recipes, cleaning habits, handling utilities and rent, etc.
thanks for reading :)