2020 Annual Review
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a piece on coming of age in the 2010s:
I couldn’t ask for a better decade to grow up in. Especially working in the tech industry, the 2010s was a decade of continuous growth and optimism.
For me it begged the question, is life really this rosy?There weren’t any significant world events that had a direct negative impact on me. Perhaps this is why me and my immediate circle are so optimistic.
Shortly after writing that piece, a global pandemic turned the world upside down. It’s been a tough year for many, myself included. But I’m happy to see 2020 move into my rear view mirror. Here are a few highlights from the past year:
- Started my daily blog and wrote every day this year
- Took a learning sabbatical to focus on reading and writing
- Started a newsletter
- Wrote a few long form pieces
- Started morning pages habit
- Made my first investment with Front Row Ventures
- Joined some online communities and made lots of new Internet friends (Shoutout to Twitter, the Writing Club, and On Deck)
- Participated in On Deck Writers first cohort
- Interned as the first product manager at an edtech startup
- Read 31 books this year, more than I’ve read any other year
- Got closer with my family during this pandemic
Finding Joy in the Little Things
I want to live my life so that I maximize the amount of first hand stories I can tell. By that measure, this year has been relatively weak. At the beginning of the year, I had plans to travel internationally during my sabbatical until the global pandemic interrupted those plans. Instead, I stayed at my family home all year. Though I enjoyed living with my family this year and I made many memories with them, living in the same house, seeing the same people, and eating the same food gets mundane quite quickly.
At first I felt restless, many aspects of my life were put in limbo. Romantic relationships, career prospects, travel, health and fitness, etc.
This is where my gratefulness practice saved me. After nearly three years of practicing gratefulness it wasn’t until this year that I truly experienced the benefits. It’s easy to be grateful when you’re winning, when you land that dream internship, when you get the grade you want, or when traveling someplace new.
But where gratefulness matters is when you hit rock bottom. To find things you’re grateful for even on your worst days is like lighting a candle in the darkness. Gratefulness is how I learned to love my new lifestyle. Yes, things may have not gone as planned, I may not be able to travel, I may not be able to see my friends in person or I might’ve not gotten the internship I wanted yet I’ve still got so much to be thankful for.
Most experiences are not objectively bad or good, rather it’s how we perceive them that make it that way. Gratefulness trains us to view the glass as half full rather than half empty. And building a gratefulness habit is insurance for when the bad days inevitably come.
Until recently, I’ve never made a friend over the internet. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know what I was missing out on either. To be frank, I thought the concept was weird then. How can I build a genuine relationship with someone if I’ve never physically met them?
But this year, I met many amazing people through online communities despite a global pandemic. For example, when I first started writing, my friend Rishi, started a messenger group with other friends that were also interested in writing. We aptly named it, the writing club. This group edited my work, kept me accountable, and gave me confidence early on. I’m not sure if I’d be able to keep up the grind of a daily blog if I didn’t have this community. Our bond grew from this shared journey and our conversations naturally evolved from writing to anything and everything. Although I have yet to meet most of them in person, it doesn’t feel any different from friendships I have in person.
There’s an african proverb that sums up this lesson nicely, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Whatever I decide to learn in the future, finding a community of people on the same journey makes the learning process much easier. This community will help me grow, keep me accountable, and inspire me to achieve more. And the camaraderie of growing together sets the foundation for a strong friendship, whether we’re in the same physical area or not.
Do Something That Scares You Everyday
One of my main areas of growth this year is changing my relationship with fear. Fear can’t be overcome but rather it’s something you dance with. Oftentimes, It’s a compass pointing us in the right direction. All the most worthwhile decisions I’ve made scared me at the beginning including the two best decisions I made this year: Taking time off for a learning sabbatical and writing every day.
My sabbatical at the start of the year was an experiment in freedom and creativity. Despite not being able to travel like I initially hoped, I had an incredible time. I doubled down on writing and I started my daily blog. I met many interesting people and made many new friends. I shared my journey in my newsletter, and my work resonated with others which was an incredibly fulfilling feeling.
Perhaps my biggest highlight this year is writing every day. At first, I thought it was daunting to write every single day, but one year later I did it, and I’m glad I did. It’s an ongoing project — I don’t have plans of stopping anytime soon — yet it’s in contention as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Daily blogging has given me so much. It’s helped me improve immensely as a writer. It has given me a voice and a medium for self expression. It’s helped attract interesting people and opportunities. And it’s my chance to do something that scares me every day.