2017 was the year that I got into my dream school. 2017 was also the year that I suffered burnout at my dream school. Jokes aside, while 2016 was the year where all of my hard work and accomplishments culminated into my acceptance into an Ivy League school, 2017 was the time for growth, prioritization, and reflection. I came into 2017 thinking that I knew the labyrinth of the world (although in the back of my mind, I clearly knew I didn’t), and, of course, I proved my subconscious to be right. I was naive and extremely idealistic, blinded by unrealistic expectations of other people and personal goals.

Before 2017, I put academics and goals before anything and anyone else — I was a late bloomer in terms of finding leisure time and reflecting on my values (!) I’ve claimed to have “known who I was,” but little did I realize that I viewed myself not through my own lens but through others’ perceptions of me. I was confident, visionary, and social, only because others perceived me as these traits. Coming into college, I realized that these traits weren’t my own: the Imposter Syndrome bred crippling self-esteem, I did not know whether or not I truly want to pursue medicine, and my energy dissipates around other people. However, as one of the first steps to self-reflection, I am grateful for the experiences that have shaped me in 2017.

Now onward, to 2018:

External Goals

  • Get. a. freaking. 4.0. I have to tackle my studying smartly, unlike my aimless habits during my first semester. And take breaks. Seriously. This was one reason why my studying was so ineffective. Goal: Study smarter, not harder.
  • Pursue my chemistry research project to the fullest.
  • Continue building my network.
  • Get an internship/some sort of opportunity for the summer. I seriously hate not doing anything productive.
  • Get more actively involved with clubs and organizations.
  • Socialize more. Go to friend outings and overnight trips. Live college to its fullest.
  • Manage my time wisely and stick to it.
  • On a side note, my desire to pursue medicine is burning stronger, for the reason of listening to the stories of others. I want to better understand the lives of other people in order to pinpoint problems in today’s society. It’s amazing what the perspectives of other people have on your perception of similar groups of people and, ultimately, yourself. The beauty of medicine is that one’s perceptions of one’s life changes with their health, both physically and mentally. With this collection of perceptions, I hope to become a doctor who seeks to understand.

Internal Goals

  • Be a better listener. I often find myself zoning out of conversations, simply because I tend to think about the person, the way their voice oscillates throughout the story, and the way their hands undulate in the air.
  • Keep a journal. I want to write more from 2018 onwards so that I can keep my feelings in check rather than have them wallowing in my mind. This could make room for other things, like my external goals.
  • Pick up a hobby. I’ve always loved the arts because I could fluidly process my emotions through brush strokes or the keys of the piano. I took my first art class since I was 5 and my first piano lesson since I was 6. However, with the turmoil of high school, I stopped painting and drawing. I did continue to perform, but I played the piano for external rewards rather than for my benefit. In college, I hope to find an outlet for my emotions through art, to keep my emotions grounded. As for music, I hope to share my thoughts and emotions with others once again — I remember when, after my performance of Chopin, members of the audience would come up to me and recount a memory they had while hearing my performance. Others would relate their synergy with the piece, that they felt Chopin’s heartbreak and melancholic romance as much as I did. The thought of sharing my heart with others with the 88 keys of the piano is what motivates me to perform again.
  • Live in the moment. I get so lost in my thoughts that I lose my sense of the environment. This year, I want to learn how to embrace the present without thinking about my to-do list or worrying about my external goals.
  • Love myself. Name five people and things I’m grateful for each day. Spread positivity. Practice self-care: Do 50 sit-ups per day. Eat enough fruits and vegetables. Establish a routine sleep schedule. Meditate. Spend money wisely. Read more books. Worry less, appreciate more.
  • Reflect on my feelings, my values, my hopes and dreams. Reflect, reflect, reflect.

And finally, to build my spiritual relationship with Christ. I admit, this will be my most difficult goal yet. Since college, I’ve lost sight of Him; I’ve been going to church less, reflecting His love for us less, and His Word less. This year (and the many to come!), I want to reestablish my connection with my faith without treating it as an obligation. I want to own my Christian faith rather than treating it as an inheritance it from my parents. I want to regain the hope that I’ve lost, look at every blunder as part of His grander plan for me, and share His love for the world without shame.

With that note, I hope that this year will bring more experiences, more lessons, and more failures. My personal theme for this year will be self-love and reflection: love myself, love others, and love every nook and cranny the world has to offer. Without further ado, here’s to a fruitful 2018.