Twenty, twenty three
One thing I love about my age is the way it mirrors the years. It is 2023 and I am 23. I feel like a different person than I was three months ago, let alone a year ago. It’s hard to believe I was 20 when the pandemic started. There has been so much change and struggle and growth over the last few years, and I think I have finally reached a period of confidence and contentment. I’ve learned some things about how to live my life. Here are some of them:
I like my days short and my weeks long
I say this one to people often. A week with many long days passes by much too quickly, and a week with a lot of short ones feels like an eternity. Days feel short when I fill them with life – an assortment of environments, people, thoughts, activities. They feel long when I let them stretch into monotonous routines of remote work and screen time. My weeks, and years, feel more full when I am intentional about introducing variety.
Thinking deeply is a skill in and of itself
There is a pattern to how my brain has learned to stretch over the years. The same mind-bending feeling has followed me from socratic seminars in high school to late night conversations with friends in college to tackling product problems at work. Careful reflection helps me understand people and make sense of society. It can be practiced anywhere, and it makes me better at everything.
Nerves can be good
This year I worked to overcome residual anxiety and self-doubt from my time in school, and in the process learned it’s possible to take detachment too far. There’s a fine line between self assurance and apathy. If I don’t care enough about what the people around me think, I’m probably spending time with the wrong people. My friends and I have an ongoing theory that the marker of a good first date is feeling a bit nervous. I think the same sentiment applies to many areas of life: friendship, work, travel. If I don’t lean into the discomfort I risk numbing myself into indifference.
Create an internal compass
The world is full of games, and I do not like playing them. There will always be people and systems in the world that attempt to judge my value. True persistence comes from the ability to recognize and articulate my potential to myself. I’m learning to take external validators like metrics and interviews as data points that I have the power to accept or reject, not bars to cross. It’s okay to feel like I did well at something even if the world may never see it.
Self discipline is overrated
Consistency is better achieved through intentional prioritization rather than forced discipline. It's about finding a way to make any task enjoyable or meaningful, rather than something I feel I have to do. Measuring things – the intensity of my workouts, the number of books I read, how much time I spend on my phone – is often more demotivating than observing how each activity makes me feel and filling my routine with the things that bring me energy.
Spite is not a healthy motivator
Society glorifies the drive of a ‘chip on the shoulder’. But seeking to prove myself to the world is nothing but an unhealthy manifestation of ego. It can be just as detrimental as traditionally frowned upon motivators like money, power, and fame. Love, care, curiosity – these are the things I want to live for, the things that can bring joy to myself and the people around me.
Most things in life are about balance
Creation or consumption, reading or experiencing, thinking or doing, first principles or analogy, intuition or logic, exertion or rest. People tend to glorify one or the other when true wisdom comes from being able to identify each mode of living and knowing when to choose what.
As I wrote these out I realized I have more reflections to clarify through writing – half-baked thoughts on intentionality, patience, agency, avoiding labels, staying sensitive, being kind. But I have another year to let them cook, so I’ll stop here. Happy new year everyone :)
Today we end with a note of gratitude ~ Thank you to Kavitha and Jehannaz for reading my drafts this year. And the rest of my friends for always being excited about my writing, it means the world <3