A Review of 2020

β€” 10 minute read

What a whirlwind of a year. When I look back on 2020, here are the stories I want to remember.

Stories permalink

Travel permalink

Gwangjang Market in Seoul, Korea. Photo of open air food market with several food stalls and vendors selling to the crowds. Large table has multiple stacks of mung bean pancakes.
Gwangjang Market in Seoul.

I got to travel to Korea at the beginning of the year to attend my nephew's second birthday. My parents and I spent New Year's Eve at the airport waiting for the flight to Seoul. I'd experienced rejection after rejection in my job hunt in the final quarter of 2019, so the trip was a welcome reprieve from life at the time.

Front of Grand Budapest Doll Hotel in Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan, Korea. Front is covered in art. Woman is reading a paper.
Grand Budapest Doll Hotel, Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan.

I also took some regional trips to Cape Cod and the Poconos.

Sand dunes on Cape Cod National Seashore. Grey, cloudy sky. Two people walk into the distance on the dunes.
Sand dunes on Cape Cod National Seashore.

Wooden post and sign that says beach, in the middle of a sand dune covered in grass, blue sky with a few white clouds.
Part of the Dune Shacks trail.

Relationships permalink

Love

My boyfriend and I celebrated our third anniversary in February. This year we only got to spend time together in person three times, but we're going strong.

There are uncertain moments where I wonder what our future together will look like. Will we grow apart or grow together? The predominant mindset of people my age seems to be a fear of commitment, as if a long-term relationship is an unfathomable restriction of freedom. I find it to be the opposite. Committing to him has been the most freeing decision I've made so far.

Friendship

The month before NYC shut down, I had a reunion at a bar with my college friends, most of whom I haven't seen since graduation. Some I would like to see more often than I currently get to.

I'd been mourning the loss of that ineffably college closeness, borderline codependence that we had. Getting groceries together at 2 AM, fitting 10 people in the cab, being within a 5 minute walk of all your closest friends. Ya know. The fun things you do in your late teens that start to feel completely foreign as you all go your own ways and pretend to be adults.

It's part of life, but it makes me think a lot about the impermanence of friendships. How many people were only friends because we were in the same place at the same time? Who will be the friends of this decade? Who will be the friends of the next decade?

I also discovered the Interintellect. I haven't gotten to attend as many salons as I'd like, but the ones I've attended have been a pleasure. It's been refreshing and nourishing to discuss and learn with other curious intellectuals.

Family

I spent a ton of time with my parents this year, 99% of it at home. Sometimes I play the comparison game thinking about how other people in their 20s have moved out, but in the end: I couldn't care less. Because I live at home, I get to take walks everyday with my dad. I get to have dinner everyday with my mom. I'm grateful to spend so much time with them. They're not going to be around forever.

My grandmother turned 100. I'm grateful that she's alive and I still have opportunities to make her laugh.

Professional permalink

Finally landed a product design job a year after bootcamp graduation, two years after graduating college. I knew it would feel good, but I was startled at how much it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My job is awesome, the work is interesting, and my team is supportive. I spent the final quarter of 2020 focused on ramping up and becoming a productive team member. I'm looking forward to taking on more challenging work in 2021.

Pandemic permalink

Mom got COVID and recovered.

Zoom fatigue! Lots of Zoom hangouts with friends, playing Jackbox, watching music festivals together. Moments I enjoyed, but simply don't approximate the real thing. Zoom and Slack meetings for work. Family Zooms.

I have mixed feelings about the quarantine life. I love spending time at home. Remote work has been a positive experience, although it has its pitfalls. Not going out has given me ample time to read, write, work on side projects. Having weekends completely free has given me space to breathe. However, after so much time at home I do start to feel like the walls are closing in on me. I miss seeing my friends and loved ones. Hoping to get to spend more physical face time with everyone in 2021.

Themes permalink

And if I had to make sense of this insane year, here would be the themes.

  • Gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for this year. I am alive and almost everyone I love is alive. I found a product design job and I get to do work I enjoy. I get to work remotely. I want to maintain and deepen this sense of gratitude, and remember to tell my loved ones how much I love them as often as I can.
  • Privilege. On the flip side, I am keenly aware, perhaps now more than ever, of the societal structures that allow me to stay home and work remotely and get paid well for it, while others die doing essential work. I don't know what to do about it, but this is something I want to think more about in 2021.
  • Hedonic treadmill of life. I felt demoralized during my period of unemployment, then was ecstatic to find a good job, then shortly after returned to a baseline level of happiness and began thinking: what's next? It's not necessarily a bad thing to be looking toward the future and thinking about where I want to take my career, but I am the type of person who gets stuck there. I need to focus on being content with who I am and where I am in the present.
  • Friendship. Spent a lot of time this year thinking about what friendship looks like in a digital world, the nature of friendship, being vulnerable with friends, wondering which of my friends will still be a friend in a year, or five. One thing I'm learning: relationships don't have to be constricted by geography, it's possible to make strong connections online, and I want to make more in 2021.
  • Words. I spent a lot of time by myself this year. Turned to writing to make sense of it all. I'm starting this site and committing to it so I can have a public home for some of my words.
  • Being Online. Ah, the double-edged sword of technology. I made several new connections this year via Internet communities, started a remote job, took some new courses, started building a mind garden in Roam...but I also spent a shameful amount of time doomscrolling πŸ˜… reducing screen time is something I want to work on in 2021.

Media permalink

I watched a ton of great series and films this year. Probably too much, but I'll give myself a pass since there was a pandemic and everything. I rewatched several Survivor seasons with my dad (it's kind of our thing). Delved into Korean cinema and dramas for the first time. I also overcame my bias against animation, watched Avatar for the first time, and watched my first Ghibli movie ever. Television and Film lists are roughly ordered from what I liked most to least, but it's not a definitive ranking.

Television πŸ“Ί permalink

Movies 🎞 permalink

Music 🎢 permalink

Spotify Wrapped says I spent 10,665 minutes listening this year, which is actually not a lot. On average that would be 30 minutes a day. However, I likely logged most of these minutes in the second half of the year, once I started my job and began looking for the perfect playlists to work to. I was surprised that pop topped out the genre list, but classical and EDM sounds about right.

Tools and Apps πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’» permalink

Software I spent a lot of time with this year. I committed to Roam and Apple Notes to attempt to capture the chaos in my head. Also started using YNAB to budget and manage my personal finances.

  • Roam Research
  • Apple Notes
  • You Need a Budget (YNAB)
  • Spotify
  • Twitter