Well hello there. Long time, no see. At this point, I'd like to say I've turned this platform of mine into a weird amalgamation of personal diary plus social awareness blog plus slightly-apologetic-and-extremely-vulnerable representation of myself for others to see. It's a love-doubt kind of relationship I have with writing and as with any relationship, there's good days and not so good days. I'd like to say that after a slew of not so good days, the only way from where I am is up.
That being said, I realize I haven't said Happy New Year yet...so there you go. It's a new year, a new decade! I'm almost in my 20s and it's just feels all around weird. I've been browsing Twitter and one tweet I saw really threw me for a loop. This is essentially the decade that I'll become an adult. I'll finish my higher education, establish a career, find a job, start my adult life. It's all a bit overwhelming to think about or to jump-start and plan for, like my overly eager mind wants to do right now. But after some self-reflection over the past couple months, if I'm going to arrive at my adult life and live it in the unapologetic way I want to, I don't think my current self and habits would help with that. It's like the saying, you can't love someone else if you don't love yourself. Well in this situation, the someone else is the future version of me and I can't say that current me and I have the best relationship. When I finally do reach the stage in my life when I can call myself "somewhat settled", I want it to be the best version of me. Not the current version. That's not to say I'm a horrible version right now, but self-improvement has never been frowned upon.
Maybe the empty promises we make to ourselves each January 1st are pointless shows of feeling self-righteous (a lot of self-centered words so far in this article, huh?) But maybe they're more. Maybe they do show that we like to set goals for ourselves, and that if we could just stop making excuses for us, we'd be able to achieve them. With that long-winded philosophical blurb over, I've included some of the things I want to do in 2020. I figured that taking away the intimidating label of "goal" would make them seem more doable. Some of these things are quite personal, and others might seem more vain or selfish. But again, with the goal being self-improvement so that I'm better able to improve the lives of those I encounter, selfish is okay. As usual, none of these are in any sort of prioritized order- just numbered and listed as I think of them.
1. Read more
I feel like this a recurring thing on my "to do" lists, as well as my resolution lists. I really did fall out of love with reading during high school. But I'm two years into college now, and the excuses I make are no longer acceptable to me. No time? Well, I seem to have enough time to scroll endlessly on Instagram and Twitter. Why can't I use that same time to actual work through my "to read" list? I can. And I should. Books are often some of the best gifts I've received from friends and mentors that I look up to. It's a shame not to actually read them.
2. Stop making excuses
Briefly mentioned this in the book blurb, but there are just way too many convenient excuses that can be made for any reason. No matter the scenario, I often find myself making an excuse for myself. Why? Am I justifying my actions to myself so as to reduce the shame or guilt that comes with not doing something? I think so. I'd like to put an end to this action this decade.
3. Improve my time management skills
Most of the people who have seen my schedule as a student almost immediately comment on how busy I am, always. And yet, somehow, I always feel like I'm drowning in my work. I think a lot of it has to do with my procrastination and un-ideal time management skills. That's likely something that every student has to reevaluate during college. Some time management systems work for some people and not for others. I'd like to find mine and stick to it. Whether it's using a timer during studying sessions or sticking to alarms when waking up, I want to respect the time I have and use it in the best way possible. One step that I've taken in the right direction is knowing when to delete my social media apps from my phone. When I know I have a busy week or month ahead, I know that I probably need to get rid of some of the more addicting ones.
4. Use social media less/stop using it to compare yourself to other people
We're all guilty of doing this, I'm sure. It's the very concept that allows Facebook to maximize its profit. Comparing yourself is an addicting, almost masochistic way to lead your life. And we all do it. Every time we check the number of likes on our most recent post, or number of views on our stories. It's all a vain way to slyly stay on our high horses. Social media lives are not our real lives and they shouldn't be prioritized. I've sorta learned how to use it less to share about my life by only posting once or twice a month. But I'm still guilty of closing and reopening and refreshing the app whenever I post a new photo, just to see if I get as many likes and comments as some of my more socialite acquaintances do. It's a blessing, but also more of a curse, that we're able to be so in touch with the people in our lives. It's almost too intimate. I'd like to reanalyze the content I consume and make sure that what I take in and think about when I use social media isn't negative or damaging. Part of the journey to self love, I guess.
5. Take more pictures
With the previous thing listed, I would like to add that it isn't wrong to take pictures and share your life. You should, but to a healthy extent. That being said, I just KNOW that I do not take enough pictures of myself or my pictures. Not for a vain reason, but for the reason that I want to make the memories I have permanent in the form of digital photos. I'd like to have a visual representation of all the times I have a nice stroll with a close friend or during the rare spontaneous moments I have. More random, unplanned selfies would be a nice surprise. It's not a crime to smile and snap.
6. Find and do more things that make me happy
I have a feeling this is more of a lifelong mission, but it's a necessary thing. I need to stop letting stress overwhelm me to the teetering edge. And for me to be able to do that, I need to find more things that make me happy and I need to do them. And not just say I'll do them. For example, a lot of the extracurricular activities I'm involved in can all be spun to be seen as contributions to my future career aspirations for medicine or as part of my involvement as an artist. They all could technically be listed on a resume and have merit as value. But, none of them really only serve the purpose of making me feel good. I want to find something that I can do for myself and the comfort of my own mind, which will take quite a bit of practice with the next thing I'd like to do in 2020.
7. Be more spontaneous. Seriously, stop planning so much.
The few things that I do do for pleasure are always extremely planned. It's like, I have a monthly quota for the amount of fun I feel I deserve and so because there's an upper limit, I have to ration it carefully. If I hike with a friend this weekend, I probably can't do anything else that will make me feel good until after these upcoming two stressful weeks. That's the reasoning that runs through my brain. I think defying it occasionally would be better for my mental health. And this goal always makes me laugh, because the extreme goodie two shoes sister in the Cat in the Hat movie writes it down on her iPod as her goal for the week. So I guess I'm Sally Walden.
8. Write more and write regularly
Writing has always been the easiest way for me to express my thoughts. I think over the past years, I've established that clearly on here. What I haven't done is be super consistent with my writing schedule. I need to start considering it as a therapeutic practice, that needs an weekly appointment that I stick to. That's part of the reason I'm sitting here at 2:16 am chugging through this article. I've been away for quite a while and once I start an article, I can't stop until I'm done.
9. Say hello to more strangers and make more friends.
This is in reference to my desire to grow the socialite aspect of my personality (which is nearly nonexistent as of right now). I need to force myself into situations (hear me out) that will promote good friendship making and I need to stop being so damn shy. Shy in the sense that I anticipate people not liking me for me, so I just save us both the trouble and effort. But why should I apologize for that? It's stupid really. Maybe this goal should be titled "be less stupid." All jokes aside, I do think I deprived myself of developing that social survival skill during my freshman year of college. Sure, I have a few friends that I can rely on for help, but I've done a lot of cutting people out of my life also. I guess I'm saying- anyone wanna be my best friend in college? Taking applications now- just kidding. Just don't harshly judge me (or if you do, I'll learn not to care) and be okay with a lot of texting.
10. Find a more healthy way to lose weight.
This is a deeply personal thing, so I might not share too many details. But I've always had body image problems and it got kind of out of hand during the spring semester of my freshman year...and it sort of continued through this past semester as well. I'm working on it, I swear. And when I'm ready, I'll share my journey to finding the healthy way.
11. Take more walks/hike more.
Something I did learn this past year is that I really love hiking. It's not hardcore hiking- it errs more on the side of more intense walking in nature-esque areas. But simply put, it's hiking for amateurs. Some of my happiest moments have been when I have gone hiking with a friend. Most recently, the happiest I have ever been was hiking alone down the Sungate trail at Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru (article coming soon). It's just you and nature out there. In fact, my favorite way to unwind when I can't physically go hiking is to watch Matthew Posa on Youtube. He hikes out and camps in various forests in Canada with his Rough collie, Monty. I have a few favorite spots in Athens, namely Lake Herrick. But I would like to venture out of Athens for more hiking adventures this year.
12. Do an artistic thing at least once a month.
I mentioned earlier that I'm into art. I'm not a professional, but being raised as indoor only child makes you more savvy to enjoy indoor activities. I'm experienced in oil, watercolor, acrylic/tempura paint, and I am also a bobbin lace maker (a beginner still, but I know my way around thread). I also used to make jewelry and sell them as fall festivals as a kid. I want to get back into doing artistic things on a regular basis.
13. Learn how to make peach sweet tea/bubble tea at home.
I spend quite a bit of money on my tea addiction. Weekly, it doesn't add up, but if I keep on the path that I'm on, I might be pretty broke by senior year. Instead, I'd like to learn how to make tea at home so that I don't have to make a trip to downtown every time I have a hankering for black milk tea. This definitely doable and I'm already shopping for the best tea cups (really, it's a rose gold wine tumblr, but it can function to hold tea).
14. Say hi to people from your past when you see them in public.
I have the worst habit of ignoring/not acknowledging people I know in public. I think it's sort of a defense mechanism I picked up when I realized I'd be attending college in the same town I went to pre-K in. But the thing is, some people will do it to me too. They just ignore my "hello" and keep walking (*cough cough* high school acquaintances at UGA). Regardless, if I've done this to you, I deeply apologize- it's not you, I swear. I promise to say hi, or to at least smile so that we can both sleep that night. I think that ignoring my high school geography teacher at brunch recently rubbed me the wrong way and that's when I knew I needed to nip this thing in the bud. No more.
15. Find my fashion style.
I've never thought much about my "style" but a new friend I made recently asked me what my style was when we went thrift shopping (a first time for me) and I had no answer. Which made me realize that I don't have one. I wear a lot of leggings, or skinny jeans/jeggings. I wear t-shirts, the same blue flannel with a black tanktop, and occasional nicer tops when I need to make an impression. Maybe my style is just "comfort" but I'd like to explore and expand that a little. Maybe that will make taking more photos of myself an easier thing to do.
16. Drink more water. And eat breakfast.
This is probably on everyone's resolution list. It's always been on mine since I started making resolutions. Never seem to do it. BUT recently I bought a Nalgene bottle and those have measurements on the side. I have a problem with buying water bottles for their design, naively thinking that a nicer looking bottle will help me drink more water. And for that reason, I've been banned from buying water bottles by my parents. Maybe this one will actually work those. The breakfast part is just something my parents tell me all the time. I like breakfast foods, and it would be nice to not eat them at 1 pm, which leads to the next thing below.
17. Be an early riser.
This is something I experimented with the past semester, but I could never fully commit. This is the year. The early hours of the day are optimal for productivity and studying- and I'm at that point in my pre-med career where I need maximum productivity levels. Maybe having a breakfast to look forward to will push me out of my bed earlier in the morning.
18. Spruce up your mailbox. And get more into online shopping.
This is definitely the most selfish, materialistic thing on the list. But I really enjoy browsing for different things online and I think that it could be a nice way to pass time instead of scrolling social media. Creating future purchase wish lists and simply seeing what people are creating these days on etsy would be good for me. But our mailbox needs some sprucing up. It's on the opposite side of the street from my house and it's in pretty bad shape. The little red tag thing got ripped off maybe 5 years ago and the numbers are all peeling off. It's in dire need of a makeover. 2020 is its year!
19. Experiment more with makeup, but remember it's only for fun, not for necessity.
I lied- this thing might be more vain than the previous one. But I've grown to appreciate a good daily makeup look. When I give myself enough time to get ready in the morning, I walk out the door feeling good about myself. And most of the time, those mornings are the ones when I've had enough time to make my eyeliner perfect on both eyes. I know I don't need it. But I like it. Call it what you want, but there's nothing wrong with wearing a cute eye look on a daily basis. I don't do full face make up, so there's no harm in perfecting my daily light makeup routine. It might make me dress in a more non-athleisure manner too.
20. Take up more space...and apologize less.
I don't know if it's the height or being raised as a quieter only child or if it's just me, but I've always been one to listen before I speak. The one to try and take up the least space possible, whether it's literal or metaphorical. On buses, I am incredibly conscious of how much space my body takes up- and because of that, I typically choose the single seats. In smaller classrooms, I'm still often the one to speak last. I trained myself how to make my sneezes silent so everyone in a room wouldn't hear me. I've spent so many years doing this kind of thing and I'm honestly tired. It's exhausting trying to to be a palatable human existing for others. And so, I'd like to take up more space in 2020. And I want to stop apologizing so damn much. There's no need for me to. I do this thing where if I'm walking on a sidewalk and there's people walking in the opposite direction that are directly in my way and unconscious of their personal space, I just stop walking. I literally stop where I am so that I don't move for them. Because I've done that before- I'll move onto the road or grass if I'm in someone's way. I'm over it.
If you stuck around for the entire article, and read everything- wow. I may not be the most marketable, or easy/quick-to-read writer, so it means you stuck around to get to know me. Thank you. I hope this year brings you happiness and health and that you find your own way to grow and improve as well. Here's to the roaring twenties!