Reflections on 2017

Looking back on 2017, I’ve spent a lot of time finding the right balance between introspection and action. My “thing” for 2017 was minimalism, a silly thing I joked about a lot after watching a Netflix documentary. For better or worse, I’ve started simplifying, and emotionally detaching myself from, the process of self-development. The more emotionally invested I got in working on myself, the harder it was to change. Change is gradual; the growth of a tree can’t be observed by looking at it at one instance. Over the past year, I’ve spent more time recalibrating my behaviors through trial-and-error, and I’m trying harder to reinforce behavior change through long-term, continuous improvement. My “thing” for 2018 is self-efficacy, to build confidence in myself on a fundamental level by setting more realistic, achievable goals that I can openly look back on and tangibly move forward with. This year I hope to make peace with my expectations on myself and others, while balancing my personal goals with the expectations that others have on me.

One thing I want to develop further this year is relationships, and to cherish them and connect with people in my life on a deeper level. I asked my closest friends to tell me how they think I’ve changed throughout the years. According to their feedback, I’ve become more “grounded” and “focused.” I may not have noticed these changes myself, but it’s always interesting to hear other’s perspectives, and I’m grateful that they were honest about how I’ve grown and changed over time. Personally, I’ve actually been feeling more rushed, impatient, and restless. This past year I felt like I never had enough time — for my schoolwork, extracurriculars, research, friendships. Life was pulling me in a million direction at once while I tried anchoring myself with my endless lists and color-coded calendars. Even with the endless treatments I tried — therapy, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, medication, I struggled a lot with my mental health and keeping up my responsibilities on even the most basic level. This year, I focused on putting myself first, and on cutting off the negative ties that were holding me down from being my best self. At the same time, this led me to overcommit and give myself an abundance of responsibilities to keep myself busy, which made it hard for me to take a step back, slow down, and think about whether the change I was enforcing on myself was even beneficial.

This year, I officially transferred from computer science to cognitive science, and while my course load has significantly reduced, I’ve started taking courses from different departments: grad-level HCI courses, freshman-level humanities courses, and I often found myself in classes or lectures where I hardly knew anyone. I grew more independent and started seeking out relationships that were based on mutual respect and support, and not out of convenience or proximity. I’m amazed at how being around the right people has made my experiences more refreshing and valuable. Recently, I’ve become more content with the types of conversations I’m having, with the people I truly wish to develop long-term connections with.

My visit to China this winter break has brought me to a different mindset, one of humility and gratitude. An interesting insight I gained so far is my need to “redirect the rhetoric.” Words are powerful. But the ideas come from within, and I realize the magnitude of the manifestation of my thoughts and how they’re communicated, interpreted, and shared with others. I want to be a more positive light to the people around me, and that’ll start with developing self-efficacy in the little things that I can do everyday to create great change to myself and others. On my deathbed, I won’t wish that I had worked more or earned more money, I’ll wish for the experiences and connections that made my life meaningful. But I also will regret not reaching my potential, and not bringing more happiness to the world and the people in my life, so I’ll start with focusing on things that will be both productive and meaningful to myself and others.

Looking forward to another great year of self-discovery and growth.