Skip to content ↓
alan avatar

549,033 words by Alan Z. '23

how do you measure, measure a year?

I’m turning nineteen today, without much fanfare; after all, nineteen is not a particularly interesting age, and the past year itself has also been a little barren, devoid of many of the experiences that a year might usually have. There’s still something about the turn of the year and the impending end of the semester, though, that demands one gently reflect on the past year, and look forwards to what’s coming next. Where are you going, where have you been?

These questions are hard to answer—how have I changed in the last year? I suppose that I’m more confident in my ability to push through difficult semesters, that I feel more comfortable calling myself a writer, and that I’ve become much more interested in walking long distances. It’s the subtle things, though, that are hard to nail down. Have I become more independent? How have my values changed? When it comes to matters of character, “it never feels like one has changed, but rather that one has always been this way.

Occasionally, though, I find glimpses of my past, and it brings me some clarity. In 2018, I started keeping a daily blog; a sort of space to vent about the past day, shared privately with a few close friends. The entries are fairly mundane; I give a summary of how the day went, jot down any thoughts or phrases that I might have been thinking about on that day, and outline the next day. For the most part, I don’t look back on old entries—the particulars of knowing what happened on any given day, say November 16th, 201801 I watched physics presentations and travelled to a debate tournament or September 1st, 2019,02 I auditioned for acapella groups and played laser tag with Next House are not very interesting.

Recently, I passed 1000 days of blogging on my current streak; that is to say, for each of the past 1000 days, there is a blog post associated with that day. This is in spite of a variety of challenges, such as all-nighters and travel between disparate time zones. Over this period of time, I’ve written 549,033 words. 549 words a day, every day, for 1000 days. Two years and nine months, out of a lifetime of 19 years.

In honor of the passing of 1000 days, I looked at the first post from this series, written in early August of 2018. I had just gotten back from summer camp at MIT, and I was just starting to think about college applications. Despite the temporal distance, the prose and the feelings in the post felt familiar—the phrasings of the particular sentences, and the overwhelming sense of “worry, worry, worry” about the future and what it held. In another manner, though, everything has changed since then; I am at MIT, and I am more happy than anxious. And, although these first two years of MIT have certainly not been easy, I am more socially and academically confident now than I think I ever expected to be; I feel wholeheartedly part of the community, even as a student from a small state. I don’t think I could have envisioned that 1000 days ago.

In another 365 days, I’ll be twenty. I’ll be finishing off my second-to-last year of college, and hopefully, by then, I’ll have a little better idea of what I want to do with my life, and the tree of possible paths will look slightly smaller. In another 1000 days, I’ll be 22 and less than a year out of college. I have no idea what my life will look like then, even less than I did looking forwards from 1000 days ago, but I suspect that things will be okay. In many ways, I will be a different person, but, in other ways, I will be the same, and maybe I’ll still be blogging, day after day, documenting the incremental changes in my voice and my beliefs.

For now, for the coming summer, I have a few small things I want to do on top of the internship I’m doing, although I don’t plan on holding myself to them too strongly. I want to start running, not for the sake of physical fitness, but for the sake of proving to myself I can do it. I want to learn to cook more, improve my Spanish skills, and rebuild some of my Chinese skills. I want to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, write poetry, and spend more time getting to know the area better. Slowly, bit by bit, life will mold me into someone new, and I can look forwards to looking back, and seeing the changes creep in.

One final note—every post is titled with a lyric from a song I’ve heard, which I find interesting or thematically relevant to the day. An almost chronological playlist of all of them is here, for you to shuffle at your own risk:

  1. I watched physics presentations and travelled to a debate tournament back to text
  2. I auditioned for acapella groups and played laser tag with Next House back to text