In high school, I neglected many of my personal interests to make time and space for schoolwork and extracurriculars. I told myself that I would sacrifice my time now to get into a good college and then pursue my interests in college because I would have more time since I wouldn’t be in class all day. Isn’t innocence so *cries in psets and office hours * seriously though, i wish i hadn't made that trade-off because shaking off the mentality of 'if it's not on my resume then it's not worth pursuing' has been really difficult. i feel like the college application process kinda messed me up and i'm still unlearning a lot of things. Freshman year came and went faster than I could process, and by the time sophomore year rolled around, I felt that I had let my high school-self down. This and turning 20! years! old! early sophomore spring sprung me into action. I listed all the goals, skills, habits, etc. I wanted to have/do by the time I hit 30 and picked a few to work on during 2020. What follows is my progress report of sorts, starting from the goals I didn’t complete to the ones I did.
- Complete a sketchbook: Over the years, I’ve bought a bunch of sketchbooks but haven’t actually drawn on all the pages in any of them. 2020 was no exception, unfortunately.
- Ukulele: I got a ukelele in the second half of 2020 and really struggled with learning as I have no music background. I was a little discouraged, but I’m not giving up and will hopefully continue practicing through 2021.
- Fitness goals: Many she's a fitness YouTuber who posts videos of different workouts. She has different programs that are basically schedules of workout videos to follow. programs were started and abandoned after a few days/weeks. I definitely overestimated my fitness level; it would take me at least twice as long as the workout video to get through all the exercises. Working out was taking too much time and that made me even less motivated. I’ve learned now to just set my pride aside and take small and patient steps.
- Short story: I didn’t get around to writing a short story, but I made an outline of one I’d like to write next.
- Personal website: My internship last summer was focused on web development, and we spent the first couple of weeks making a personal website as part of the lesson plan. A lot of the information I learned through my internship has helped me with planning and making my own website. I just haven’t made the time to actually work on it besides setting up the project and designing the wireframes.
- Socializing: After we got kicked off of campus, I wanted to make a conscious effort of reaching out to different people, and I was successful for a month or two! And then I got exhausted and ended up just texting the two people I already talk to lol. I’m trying to be better.
- Skin and hair care: During my freshman year, I spent a lot of time watching videos on skincare to try and figure out how to address my acne and hyperpigmentation and spent a lot of money on different products to no avail. Over the summer, I started breaking out like never before, so I went to a dermatologist, and she helped me come up with a plan that actually worked. I’m giving myself a 60 because I didn’t consistently stick to my skin routine even though it worked. Haircare, on the other hand, went great, and my hair hasn’t felt this healthy in a minute.
- Daily vitamins: I wanted to get into the habit of taking vitamin supplements every day because I’m anemic, but I just could not remember to do it. This ended up being a good thing because my dermatologist told me that it’s not uncommon for daily vitamin supplement intake to affect your skin. So, I decided to settle on taking vitamins twice a week, but even maintaining this schedule was a struggle as it’s so easy to forget.
- Monthly reflection: I wanted to journal once a month on topics that bug me every once in a while like my fears, identity, existential dread, and so forth. I did this for 6 out of 12 months.
- 10 makeup looks: I bought a couple of makeup palettes and brushes my freshman year and didn’t really use them, so I’m glad that I made the time for makeup in 2020, especially as a quick daily or weekly creative outlet.
- 10 art pieces: I had planned 10 specific pieces when I set this goal, and I completed 5 of them, and am more than half-way done with two pieces. I did one other piece that I hadn’t planned for, making the total around 8 pieces.
- Journaling: I kept a weekly journal of 2020 where I basically just wrote about things that happened in my life. I’m pleasantly surprised that I managed to keep a thorough journal for a year, especially the odd year that was 2020.
- 10 poems: Taking Poetry Workshop in spring 2020 and Advanced Poetry Workshop in fall 2020 gave me the extra motivation to write more than ten poems.
- 10 photoshoots: I’m most proud of accomplishing this goal because I’ve wanted to get into photography for a long time. I bought a DSLR in high school but it was mostly unused. A lot of the shoots I did were of myself because of quarantine (and my sister refused to be my model), so it was kinda hard playing both model and photographer. Still, I had a lot of fun coming up with different ideas and applying the concepts I learned from many, many YouTube videos.
- 10 books: I’m also happy that I was able to reignite my love for reading. Ten books is nothing to the number of books I used to read in middle school, but I’m taking small steps and hopefully will increase the amount this year and onwards.
- Vocabulary: I wanted to improve my writing vocabulary, so I found a list of 220 fancy words based on the novel Americanah and used Vocabulary.com to learn the words. I often referred to the list when I was writing for my poetry classes.
- 10 submissions to publications: I submitted a lot of the poems I wrote to different online literary magazines and received mostly rejections. It was a little disheartening but the couple of acceptances I got are enough to motivate me to write more and improve.
- 12 blog posts: I barely blogged sophomore year, so I planned on writing at least 12 blogs in 2020. Though I technically published 11 in 2020, I started writing/finished 13 in 2020.
- Hair looks: I wanted to experiment with my hair and picked three hairstyles I hadn’t done before: faux locs, twists, and using hair wax (pictured in this blog).
- Finance: As I’m slowly approaching graduation and entry into the workforce, I figured beginning to develop good money habits would be in my best interest. I read Your Money or Your Life as a brief intro as well as articles on how to best utilize Roth IRAs, investment accounts, and other financial decisions I can make right now as a student.
Comments and Lessons Learned
- Setting specific goals is key. When I wrote my list of goals in 2019, I specified my reading list, the blogs that I wanted to write, the art I wanted to make, etc. On the other hand, I wasn’t really specific about my goals for skincare and hair care and didn’t establish how to measure progress. to be fair, skin health can be a little unpredictable so I'm not too harsh on myself
- I had to learn how to forgive myself and resist the mindset of all-or-nothing. One of the reasons why I barely made any progress on my fitness goals is because I didn’t want to adjust the programs to my current fitness level and opted to struggle through the workouts for hours which then made me give up after a week or two. Then I’d start another program and continue the cycle. I should’ve started slow and built my way up even if what I did was less than what the workout plan outlined. Something is better than nothing, and I’ve found that with the other goals I completed, I was able to be consistent because I forgave myself during the times I wasn’t.
- I was scared to commit to MIT when I was deciding between colleges during my senior year of high school because MIT is known for its tough workload and I wanted to make sure I had time to pursue all the interests I ignored in high school. In the end, I picked MIT based mostly on the hope that I would overcome the challenge of balancing school and hobbies, and if I managed to find balance at MIT, then the rest of my life should be a lot easier. I’m already a junior, and I’ve only just started to find that balance. And doing so has come at the cost of my grades which has honestly been tough. Regardless, I feel the Venn diagram of the person I am and the person I want to be slowly shifting into a circle which has been the most fulfilling part of 2020 for me.
- I found my love for learning again. I’ve been able to freely explore my interests without that joy being sucked out by the pressure of grades. The more I learn about photography or writing, the more I realize how little I actually know, and surprisingly this realization doesn’t scare me. I just feel more excited to delve even deeper.
- Overall, I’m keeping many of my 2020 goals or incrementing them a little (read 15 books, do 15 photoshoots, etc). I want to finish the goals I didn’t get to like the remaining art pieces or actually getting through one Chloe Ting workout program. I also want to get into new things like animation and food photography. I want to learn how to install wigs and do my own nails. There are a few other random goals, but I’ll share them all next year in my 2021 resolutions blog:)
- " *cries in psets and office hours * seriously though, i wish i hadn't made that trade-off because shaking off the mentality of 'if it's not on my resume then it's not worth pursuing' has been really difficult. i feel like the college application process kinda messed me up and i'm still unlearning a lot of things. back to text ↑
- " she's a fitness YouTuber who posts videos of different workouts. She has different programs that are basically schedules of workout videos to follow. back to text ↑
- to be fair, skin health can be a little unpredictable so I'm not too harsh on myself back to text ↑