2021 reflections (& the past few weeks)

2021 was a wild ride. From moving out across the country alone to running my first half marathon, the last year was all about pushing my limits.

I have always practiced the art of reflection. Last year, I published my reflection for 2020. This year, I expanded upon that using Ali Abdaal’s annual review template on Notion, and while it’s far too long to post its entirety, there were a few snippets I wanted to share:

🥰 Stuff I’m grateful for

  • Experience: Incredible internship opportunities with the Executive Office of the President and Viinko (EdTech startup)
  • Accomplishment: Ran a half marathon in under 2 hours
  • Tool: The Notion app
  • Habit: Homework for Life (capturing a storyworthy moment of the day)

🗓️ What Happened This Year?

  • Lived alone for 5 months (Jan – May) in D.C. — forced adulting process quickly, and learned how to cope with loneliness
    • January: I moved out to D.C., experienced the presidential transition as an intern in the Executive Office of the President, and spent the night of the capital riot locked up in my studio, terrified of the endless news articles and wailing of sirens.
    • February: My mom came to visit because I was so homesick and we celebrated my birthday.
    • March: One year after lockdown, I was finally fully vaccinated.
    • April: I came home for spring break and got to catch up with my family and friends. But mostly, April was an emotionally turbulent month. I was so close to burnout.
    • May: As venues began to open up, I became a tourist and museum hopper.
  • Summer break (End of May – August)
    • June: Suffered through the Pacific Northwest heat wave. Lots of socializing!
    • July: Explored treasures of the PNW (berry picking, collecting oysters, etc).
    • August: Went on more hiking adventures and took a family trip to Lake Oswego, Oregon, before moving to D.C. for the fall.
  • Finally got onto campus for college (August – December) — built a routine, talked to new people, got into marketing
    • September: After moving onto campus, the first month was a craze of club applications, socializing, and trying to find my place in the university.
    • October: After three months of training, I ran the Georgetown half marathon!
    • November: I spent Thanksgiving break on campus and had the perfect balance of alone time and quality one-on-one time with some of my best friends.
    • December: Finals buried me for the first half of the month, but I got to see Hillary Clinton and go to Maui!

✨ 2021 Favorites:

  • ✍️ Articles / Blog Posts:
    • TikTok and the Vibes Reveal by Kyle Chayka
      • I documented a few of the vibes around me, like the vibes of my office space: smooth, white desks; Contigo thermos cup; noise-cancelling earbuds; soft-chatter of my coworkers; double desktop displays; a clock that shows times in Seoul, Honolulu, Bodega Bay, and D.C.
    • Chronicles of a Bubble-Tea Addict by Jiayang Fan
      • I have always loved Jiayang Fan’s stream-of-consciousness, reflective style. She so eloquently captures the Asian-American experience: “Part of being Asian-American—a subtle trait, if you want to call it that—is the fear of being judged for losing one’s Asian-ness while failing to earn acceptance as a real American. Assimilation, in other words, is an impossible process of pouring oneself into another while holding onto a sense of self. It is tricky to judge from the outside a transformation that largely takes place within.”
    • De-risking Your Ambition by Roy Ong
      • One of my goals of 2021 (and honestly, a life-time goal of mine) is to take on more risks. This article articulates why.
  • 🎙 Podcasts
    • Huberman Labs with Andrew Huberman
      • Having taken IB Biology, I thought I would never touch science again. But Professor Andrew Huberman of the Stanford School of Medicine makes me excited about the science of our brain, emotions, and physical health. He explains it in a digestible, practical manner.
    • How I Built This with Guy Raz
      • One of my favorite podcasts to listen to while on a run. All the founders’ journeys are so inspiring, and I especially enjoyed learning about how Sweetgreen sprung up from Georgetown’s horrible campus dining experience.
    • Asian Boss Girl
      • The three hosts of “Asian Boss Girl” are like older sisters. I love their dynamic and all the experiences they share, from quitting their accounting jobs, to starting their motherhood journeys.
  • 📚 Books (somehow I read 148…here are just a few that I rated a 5/5)
    1. Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner
    2. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
    3. Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang
  • 🎬 Movies and Shows:
    • Dune (2021)
    • You Season 3 (2021)
    • Flower of Evil (2020)
  • 👩‍🍳 Dishes/recipes:

💭 Reflective Questions

How did you have fun differently in 2021?

A lot more fun time was alone, and that means entertaining myself with new ideas, like running while listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I also got the opportunity to really dive into some nerdy intellectual pursuits and write it down (such as writing for the Crows Nest and reading + writing about technology).

I spent even more time with family this year, really discovering the gems of the PNW. I tried soulcycle for the first time!

Cooking for family was also really exciting — going grocery shopping, looking at sales, picking out ingredients, finding & modifying recipes, then of course, watching everyone’s reactions to my food. Its nice to alleviate some stress on my parents as well. I hope to get better at cooking so that I can give it to friends!

What kept you up at night with excitement this year? Was it worth it? Would you want to do more of it?

The experience of traveling to a new city kept me up — whether that be my internship in D.C. and moving for school, trips to Portland and Maui, etc. It takes time for my body to get used to a new place, but nonetheless I find it really exciting to explore new areas and “act like a local.”

(I highly recommend asking these questions to a friend! It’s nice to reflect with other people as well.)

🎯 Goal Setting

Investing:

  • 2021 goal: invest every week or every other week ✔️
  • 2022 goal: venture into stocks other than the VOO — maybe the VTF or actual company stocks

Career/Clubs:

  • 2021 goals:
    • Fill out career worksheets ✔️
    • Join a business-related club ✔️
  • 2022 goal:
    • Make the most out of my HubSpot internship and secure a post junior-year internship
    • Get a leadership position in the business club
    • Write a long journal article in which I consult/interview professional experts

Physical:

  • 2021 goal: run a half marathon ✔️
  • 2022 goal: commit to more strength training, and build 5lb of muscle mass

Relationships/Happiness:

  • 2021 goals:
    • Write Thank Yous to teachers & TAs at the end of the semester ❌
    • Collaborate with peers willingly — share study materials, look over homework sets, and answer peer questions ✔️
    • Take time to call, check in, and write letters to friends & loved ones (semi-fulfilled)
  • 2022 goals:
    • Take time to call, check in, and write letters to friends & loved ones (semi-fulfilled)Be more compassionate toward parents (continue)
    • Write Thank Yous to teachers & TAs at the end of the semester and attend office hours more consistently
    • Stay in touch with mentors and peers who graduate
    • Try meditation

💫 The Past Three Weeks

After finals, I came home for three days:

Before leaving for Maui:

When I got back, I unfortunately tested positive for COVID. I’m 90% sure it was Omicron, as my main symptoms was a scratchy throat/urge to cough, and nose congestion followed by a runny nose. I was boosted in October, but the mildness of my symptoms shows that vaccines do, in fact, work!

After I isolated and recovered, I got to catch up with a few friends over coffee/tea 🙂

And then finally, I moved back to D.C. for the (virtual) start of the spring semester. The first day was rough, full of lots of crying after the university misplaced several of my essential belongings… but at least that’s all resolved now. I’m trying to go through the adulting process while also being more compassionate, and I have to say it’s a tough one.

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