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MIT blogger Cami M. '23

intention by Cami M. '23

via YearCompass

Every year, I try to set aside a chunk of time to reflecting on the year. This is usually done in the form of setting New Year’s resolutions, but I figured I should doing something a little more intentional.

A couple years (?) ago, Paolo mentioned YearCompass, “a free booklet that helps you reflect on the year and plan the next one.” I attempted it last year, but never really went through with it, so here’s my honest try at one.

So…let’s fill it out!

YearCompass Welcome page. The text reads: "What is this? It's a YearCompass--your very own YearCompass, to be exact. It is a booklet that helps you reflect on the past year and plan the next one. With a set of carefully selected questions and exercises, YearCompass helps you uncover your patterns and design a great year for yourself. The booklet has two distinct parts. The first half will help you review, learn from, and celebrate the year you're leaving behind. The second half, on the other hand, is all about the future. You'll be dreaming, planning, and preparing to get the most out of the new year. What do I need to fill out the booklet? A pen or pencil, a few hours of uninterrupted focus, and an open and honest mind. Can I do this in a group? Sure you can! Grab your friends, print out booklets for all of them and find a comfortable space. Everyone should fill out their own YearCompass, but you can take breaks to discuss the exercises and share your thoughts and feelings. If you do this, please be mindful of your companions' boundaries. Everyone should only share things they are comfortable with."

YearCompass Get Ready page that reads "Arrive. Prepare your tools and the space around you. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths. Let go of your expectations. Start when you feel ready."

The Past Year

Going Through Your Calendar

Go through your calendar week by week. If you see an important event, family gathering, friendly get-together or a significant project, write it down here.

I chose these dates somewhat haphazardly. As I looked at my Google Calendar, any event that evoked a strong emotion, I wrote down. This was a really fun exercise to do because I genuinely forgot that so many of these things happened

  • Oral surgery – Jan. 25
  • 20th Birthday – Feb. 3
  • [Company name] interview for the fall – Feb. 8
  • The Batman – March 5
  • Disney World Trip w/ deephers – March 18-March 22
  • LSC Screening of EEAAO – March 27
  • Springfest 2022 – April 30
  • Flight to SF – May 28
  • 5SOS Concert – June 14
  • Ethan comes to visit – July 8-10
  • Raymond comes to visit – July 15-17
  • Flight to Chicago – July 29
  • Lollapalooza – July 30- July 31
  • [Company name] Interview – Aug. 5
  • Outsidelands – Aug. 7
  • Kylee comes to visit – Aug. 12-14
  • [Company name] final round – Sept. 6
  • TwitchCon – Oct. 7-9
  • Joji concert – Oct. 14
  • Harry Styles concert – Oct. 28
  • My Policeman – Nov. 1
  • The 1975 concert – Nov. 4
  • Sloan interview – Nov. 18
  • Pierce the Veil concert – Nov. 19
  • Black Panther 2 screening – Nov. 20
  • Apartment touring day – Dec. 4
  • Ice skating – Dec. 9
  • 2.009 Presentations – Dec. 12
  • Retreat – Dec. 16-18
  • World cup finals – Dec. 18

This is what my last year was about

We live our lives through distinct but interconnected aspects. Take a look at the areas below and ask yourself what the significant events in each of them were. Write down your answers.

Through this, I was able to realize that a lot of the events that felt “important” to me often were things to do with my interests or things to do with my friends and community. Seeing the physical health and mental health sections empty, along with the habits section, made me realize how little time I spent really dedicating myself to individual, alone-time self-care activities, or how those never were /calendar/ events, but rather things that I spontaneously decided to do.

Personal Life, Family

  • Oral surgery
  • 20th birthday
  • Apartment touring day

Career, Studies

  • [Company name] interview
  • [Company name] interview
  • [Company name] final round
  • Sloan interview
  • Flight to SF

Friends, Community

  • Disney World trip
  • Springfest 2022
  • Ethan comes to visit
  • Raymond comes to visit
  • Flight to Chicago
  • Kylee comes to visit
  • Ice skating
  • 2.009 Presentation
  • Retreat

Relaxation, Hobbies, Creativity

  • The Batman
  • LSC Screening of EEAAO
  • Lollapalooza
  • Outsidelands
  • TwitchCon
  • Joji concert
  • Harry Styles concert
  • My Policeman
  • The 1975 concert
  • Pierce the Veil concert
  • Black Panther 2 screening
  • World Cup finals

Physical Health, Fitness


Mental Health, Self-Knowledge


Habits That Define You


A Better Tomorrow

  • Springfest 2022
  • LSC Screening of EEAAO
  • Black Panther 2 Screening

Six sentences about my past year

The wisest decision I made…was going with my gut consistently and constantly, trusting how I felt about people and places.

The biggest lesson I learned…was better understanding myself, my limits and expectations, and the person I want to be.

The biggest risk I took…was moving to San Francisco alone, despite knowing that it was going to be unpleasant and difficult.

The biggest surprise of the year…was finally getting a full-time job.

The most important thing I did for others…was finally reaching closure with the past and finding it within myself to be kind.

The biggest thing I completed…was deciding on an apartment with Raymond!

Six questions about my past year

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of how I handled the summer, given all that happened, and my growth this semester. I didn’t realize I could grow to be so peaceful, or to look at the world with such optimism, and I’m really proud of myself for getting this far.

Who are the top three people who influenced you the most?

Obviously I think the top of my list here is Raymond. He helped me a lot through some difficult times in the year, like during my summer breakdown, along with just major decisions in my life like decisions to apply to grad school, where to work, and of course, where to live. Another person I spent a lot of time with this semester is Kylee, who has huge influence in my life. I find that I can easily talk to Kylee about anything and she is able to voice her opinions on things so saliently. (I would also say that maybe Kylee and Eva are tied here because I talked to them both a lot about my various ups and downs this year.) Third, I would probably say all the Adults who helped me through the summer (namely my manager and mentor at my job, Petey, and my mom). It was a really difficult learning lesson for me, but I think I learned a lot and it’s something I’ll carry with me to the future.

Who are the three people you influenced the most?

I’m really not sure who this would be. I would think maybe Kylee, Eva, and Raymond, but it feels kind of self-serving to think that you are a main influencer in someone’s life, so I’m a little hesitant.

What were you not able to accomplish?

I wanted to focus a lot more on my hobbies this semester, but found that I wasn’t able to do that for a variety of reasons. I wanted to get better at guitar and paint more, in particular, but found that I broke my guitar in August and didn’t find enough time to paint. I also wanted this to be the year I really made my gains in lifting, but since I got sick on and off all fall semester, it feels like I’ve made steps backward rather than forward. I also wanted to read more, but kind of dropped the ball on that one, too.

What is the best thing you have discovered about yourself?

I’ve discovered that I’m capable of kindness. And also of love and being loved. I think I’ve always known I have the capacity to love a person, but taking so many major steps with Raymond showed me that I can be in these really intense, serious, committed relationships and still feel content in myself and my life. I think I also just accomplished a lot on my own this semester. I often think of myself to be the dumbest out of our friends, so it’s nice to remind myself that I do cool shit and I’m smart. I took some hard classes in the spring and was able to do well in them. I did well in my summer classes. I did some really fun creative classes this fall.

What are you the most grateful for?

I’m most grateful to my family and friends for all the support they’ve given me this semester — Emma, Eva, Kylee, Raymond, Aiden, Jeremy, Petey, Ceri, Kellen, Shweta, my mom, my Ninang, my cousin, and obviously way more people on this list that I’m forgetting. I’m also grateful for just the amount of opportunity given to me at MIT. So many of my accomplishments stem from the sole merit of being an MIT student and I’m so appreciative of the amount of people that support me, root for me, and vouch for me.

The best moments

Living in New York City for the first time with Raymond and realizing that this was the city I wanted to live in.

Watching Everything Everywhere All at Once in March and feeling so moved by the movie, and also just all the good movies that came out in 2022 in general.

My surprise party for my 20th birthday, when all my friends hid in my room while I was downstairs talking my friend’s ear off. I literally cried so much because I’ve always wanted a surprise birthday party but never got one.

Going to Disney World with Julie, Lulu, and Kat. It was the first time I really felt the love of a sorority and understood what it was all for. I loved waking up at ass o’clock in the morning just for line drop and scurrying over to the Avatar ride. I loved losing my voice from screaming too hard for Goofy and having to whisper scream the rest of the four days.

Outsidelands and really all of the concerts I went to this year (mainly my 5 Seconds of Summer concert where I caught Ashton’s drumstick, as well as my 1975 concert and My Chemical Romance concert). It’s incredibly cheesy, but concerts are where I feel the most excited about life and I love getting to go to so many.

Getting my job offer in September.

Learning how to sail and having the confidence to sail.

Getting over my fear of ice skating and learning how to ice skate. (Okay, maybe learning is a bit of a stretch.)

Long conversations with my work friends about anything and everything.

Watching all the Twilight movies with my friends. Retreat in New Hampshire and watching Nathan For You episodes.

Watching Bridgerton with Eva.

Going to TwitchCon and meeting all of my favorite Twitch streamers. Also hanging out with Ethan at TwitchCon.

Three of my biggest accomplishments

List your three greatest accomplishments from last year here.

Working out consistently and lifting the heaviest I’ve ever been able to lift. Getting multiple job offers for full-time positions. Entering my kindness era and feeling true stability and contentment.

What have you done to achieve this?

A lot of hard work went into all of these things. I’m really proud of myself for being so consistent and so dedicated to my goals. I think I sometimes forget how ambitious I am, and often label myself as someone who’s lazy. But looking back and seeing all the things I was able to do this year reminds me that I actually do have a bit of drive and fire within me. Reflection was also such a huge thing that went into it. I spent a lot of time asking myself what I really wanted in life, and while I still don’t have a super clear idea of what that quite is, I’ve got a lot of ideas of what I don’t want.

Who helped you achieve these successes? How?

The people I mentioned before! I really appreciate all the friends and mentors in my life for just letting me be so open with them about anything and everything.

Three of my biggest challenges

List your three biggest challenges from last year here.

Surviving San Francisco. Navigating new friendship dynamics and coming back to a fall semester that was much more different than I initially imagined. Coping with my short fuse temper.

Who or what helped you overcome these challenges?

San Francisco was a greatly needed challenge and I learned a lot about myself. I’m so thankful to my work friends that I made, namely Lina and Alex and Stefan, for being there for me during the entire shitshow. I leaned a lot into coping via YouTube and started my Dimension 20 phase around this time (which I’m so, so grateful for again because it rekindled my love for fantasy and playing pretend.) My work mentors, new and old.

I received so, so much support from Eva, Kylee, and Raymond this fall and I’m so thankful to them for putting up with my bitching and whining. And of course, an extra shoutout to my therapist for helping me navigate all my issues.

What have you learned about yourself while overcoming these challenges?

I used to believe that holding true to your values meant displaying them at all times, being loud and blunt about it. To just do things carelessly, without added thought. This summer, though, I realized that there’s a lot more nuance here. That my bluntness is both my greatest hindrance and helper and there are ways in which I can learn how to use it for good, rather than just being a loaded shotgun ready to go off. I’m learning that there are ways to be both respected and kind, that kindness is not a show of weakness. I’ve learned how to play the long game, what hills are worth dying on, and what battles are worth fighting.


Did anything happen during the past year that still needs to be forgiven? Deeds or words that made you feel bad? Or are you angry with yourself? Write it down here. Do good for yourself and forgive. If you don’t feel ready to forgive yet, note it down anyway. It can work wonders.

I think I’m angry at myself for still not being as “chill” as I would like to be. I’m still quick to anger and I’m not patient with people, and I wish I was more patient Raymond, /especially/ with Raymond since he gives me so much patience in my day to day. I have some really bad habits I want to break and I get angry at myself a lot for not getting rid of them yet, like the way I freak out when I lose things or when we’re running late. I also think I’m sometimes really harsh on my friends when I get in really bad moods and I wish I was able to mediate those feelings a lot easier.

I also am somewhat disappointed in myself for being such a bad communicator, for dropping the ball on so many projects (UROPs, jobs, assignments, etc.) and not putting my best foot forward out of sheer laziness or dismissal sometimes.

Letting go

Is there anything else you need to say? Is there anything you must let go of before you can start your next year? Draw or write, then think about it and let it go.

This summer, I spent a lot of time being angry and hurt and feeling wronged. And I think that these feelings could’ve resulted in a path where I held on to that anger and that hurt and hurt other people. But instead, it culminated in a way where I realized that I don’t want to spend my life continuing those cycles. So I’m really proud of myself for taking that step forward. I don’t think I’ll ever let go of the /sadness/ associated with what happened, because I think that sadness reminds me why I have to be kind.

Using what I learned from the summer, I’m able to apply it to what happened in high school. I think this is the first full year where I can say I’m not angry about what happened. I may be sad, yes, but I think now that I have 4 years of separation from the events, I can say truthfully that I’m not angry at anyone involved and it was just a shitty experience all around. There was a point in my life where I was actively wishing them all harm, that I figured that if they died, it would make my life better, in fact. But now I realize that that’s a lot of evil and negative energy to hold on to, and I’m happy I’m letting it go.

I think I also need to let go of the guilt I feel when it comes to relationships. I haven’t made a lot of good decisions in the past romantically, and I often feel a lot of regrets when I think about them. But I think it’s finally time I let go of these regrets and disappointments and focus on looking forward.

The past year in three words

Choose three words to define your past year.

poignant, eye-opening, wistful

The book of my past year

A book or a movie was made about your past year. What title would you give it?

Do you feel like letting go?

Farewell to your last year

If there is anything else left that you would like to write down, or there is anybody you would like to say goodbye to, do it now.

Despite everything I said, I think 2022 was such an incredibly successful year for me. I’m wrapping up my second to last semester at MIT with so many people by my side and I always get really emotional just thinking about how far I’ve come. I know people are absolutely sick of how nostalgic and pensive I get when it comes to my life, but I honestly think so much about how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. 2022 was a year of independence for me. I started out in January feeling so stupid and small and unappreciated. I found myself constantly comparing myself to Raymond, not really understanding why he spent his time with me, or what I brought to the table in terms of skills and knowledge. But throughout 2022 I was able to learn so much about myself and my capabilities. I coded websites and performed so well in school and my jobs. I pushed myself and tried new things, putting aside my insecurities and worries. I sailed for the first time. I went ice skating. I hiked. I lived on my own. I wrote comic book scripts and documentaries. I traveled across the US. I found an apartment to live in for next year. I scored a full-time job and got into grad school. There’s so much to be thankful for and to be proud of, and though some parts of it really were hellish, 2022 has treated me well.

End of the first section of Year Compass. It reads, "You're done with the past year. You have just finished the first part. Take a deep breath. Get some rest."

YearCompass section title. It reads 'The Year Ahead, 2023"
Dare to dream big

What does the year ahead of you look like? What will happen in an ideal case? Why will it be great? Write, draw, let go of your expectations and dare to dream.

I get really nervous to post things publicly, especially when it comes to, like, hopes and aspirations. I’m scared I’m going to say something and then not follow through so I’m going to keep this private.

This is what my next year will be about

Take a look at the areas of your life and decide your goals for each of them for the next year. Put those goals on the page–this is your first step towards realizing them.

Personal life, family

  • Adopt a happy, healthy dog that will be loved by both Ray and I.
  • Buy Christmas presents for all of my family for the first time.
  • Make my apartment really into a home.
    • Make one piece of furniture for my home.
    • Curate the space properly.
    • Create a book nook.
  • Contribute to your Roth IRA and 401k. Save portions of your paycheck.

Friends, community

  • Throw an end of the year retreat with all of my college friends.
  • Call all of your friends at least once a month to check in with them.

Physical health, fitness

  • Lift more than I do now.
    • Is this the year I finally hit 135 on bench?
    • Is this the year I finally squat my weight?
    • Deadlift 200lbs.
  • Start either yoga, pilates, or self-defense classes.

Habits that define you

  • Habits I want to adopt:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Working out
    • Playing guitar

Career, studies

  • Acclimate to my job well
    • Form a good relationship with my manager
    • Find a mentor in my new workplace
    • Create a yearly plan with monthly goals for my workplace once my job starts
    • Receive a good evaluation
  • Graduate with a 5.0

Relaxation, hobbies, creativity

  • Continue writing and blogging.
    • Transfer all my blogposts over to my Substack
    • Write a blogpost at least once a month after graduation.
    • Write 100k words in 2023.
  • Start piano lessons (after graduation).
  • Play guitar at least once a week.
  • Draw more, paint more.
    • Start a drawing or painting project every month.
  • Learn something new!
    • Crochet, knit, cross-stitch?
  • Read at least one book a month.

Mental health, self-knowledge

  • Continue therapy consistently.
  • Add more organization to your life by using your planner consistently.
  • Go to more concerts, plays, shows, musicals, anything. You’re in New York City. This is the place.

A better tomorrow

  • Start volunteering somewhere (post graduation).
    • The animal shelter? A food bank?
  • Donate at least $20 to a worthy cause every month.

Magical triplets for the year ahead

These three things I will love about myself

My physical appearance. My loudness. My quirks that make people think I’m a little weird sometimes.

I am ready to let go of these three things.

Fear of looking dumb/stupid, fear of being wrong about things, insecurity over my appearance.

These three things I want to achieve the most.

Making a piece of furniture for my apartment. Getting good evaluations in my workplace. Adopting a dog in 2023.

These three people will be my pillars during rough times.

Raymond, my mom, Kylee/Eva/Emma/Aiden.

These three things I will dare to discover.

Moving into a more permanent place (in a city I don’t know super well!!). How to navigate adulthood. (I know it’s not three, but figured these two things are so chunky, they’re basically three.)

These three things I will have the power to say no to.

Peer pressure. Insecurity. Self-doubt.

These three things I will make my surroundings cozy with.

Books! So many books. Investing in more art and drawing more art to decorate my space with. DIY furniture and decor.

These three things I will do every morning.

Write my agenda for the day. Skincare routine always, and wear your sunscreen!!! Oh and take my Vitamin C gummies :’)

These three things I will pamper myself with regularly.

Massages! I would love to get more massages in 2023. More media! More movies, more books, more graphic novels, more everything. Self-dates! Painting more, walks around the park, going out to museums.

These three places I will visit.

Spain! Korea! Japan!

I will connect with my loved ones in these three ways.

Making sure to regularly call and text my mom. Coming home for the holidays. Buying people things if it reminds me of them.

With these three presents I will reward my successes.

I would love to have a keyboard in the apartment (although I’m not sure where I’ll put it..). A new acoustic guitar has always, always, always been on the radar. Oh, and building a new gaming computer.

This year, I will not procrastinate any more on…

replying to people. Just reply to them! The moment you open a message, literally just fucking reply!!! As soon as people make plans with you, just write it down!!

This year I will draw the most energy from…

my friends and ambitions and their ambitions. Always driven by the people around me. Putting good energy into something.

This year I will be the bravest when…

I graduate. It’ll be scary and it’ll be difficult, but I will get through it!!!! This is not the end!!

This year I will say yes when…

opportunities to try new things come knocking at my door.

This year I advise myself to…

really, really be intentional with my time. Don’t bite off way more than you can chew. Keep going at a steady pace and don’t worry about what other people are doing. You’re doing just fine.

This year will be special for me because…

you’re graduating, bitch!!! This is it!! This is your final year before you do that young adult-ing thing all on your own!!! It’s you with the world, babe!!!!!!!!!!

My word for the year ahead

Pick a word to symbolize and define the year ahead. You can look at this word if you need some extra energy, so you remember not to give up your dreams.


Secret Wish

Unleash your mind. What is your secret wish for the next year?

Not so secret if I post it to the admissions blogs for everyone to read, huh?


Final page of YearCompass. It says, "I believe anything is possible this year."

what i listened to as i did this:

happy new year <3