My Yearly Theme this year was the “Year of Adulting,” which I now realize I didn’t write about in depth in public1. At a high level, the notion of my theme is:
It’s time to start thinking of myself and acting like an adult in a meaningful way
This may sound, well, obvious and pointless for someone who is 28 years old and has been an “adult” in a legal sense for 10 years, but I still found it meaningful to enumerate it as a theme and take time to think through what being a “grown up” really means. Thinking back to one’s childhood vision of what adulthood means, I thought of a few broad sub-themes:
- Caring more deeply about “boring stuff” (e.g. money/finances & long-term planning)
- Taking health more seriously (both in terms of diet/physical fitness but also proactively thinking about long-term health, going to the doctor, etc.)
- Valuing and nurturing relationships (social and romantic) & endeavoring to find a life partner
- Being more serious/measured in my worldview and thinking on politics, social change, etc.
- Building a living space that I’m proud of and can host people in
- Continuing to grow in my career
- Taking “fun” more seriously and developing hobbies (instead of my default approach to down-time which is very mindless consumption of social media and trashy TV)
While these ideas were ambitious and broad, the great thing about themes is that they are fairly open-ended and can be molded to apply to numerous aspects of one’s life.
The first few weeks
I started the year with a notion of applying the idea of “sprints” borrowed from software engineering (to be specific, from “Agile” methodology) to my yearly theme and executing life changes in this way with a process of retrospectives (“retros”) at the end of each sprint. This was, in theory, a very good idea but in practice fell apart quite quickly.
Part of the reason it fell apart was due to focus/motivation issues I had, possibly due to the broad scope/endless choices of things I could focus on. While I had written up a “sprint plan” with the first few sprints planned out, the urgency of following them seemed somewhat arbitrary. I found it much easier to make small changes from a number of aspects to my theme and integrate them throughout my days.
The other major reason this fell apart was that I fell in love! 🥰
Out of respect for my partner’s privacy, I won’t talk excessively about my relationship on this blog. That said, the short version is that R2 and I met in January 2020 when I first moved to the Bay Area. We met on a dating app3 and really hit it off for the first ~2 months of our relationship. Then COVID happened. I moved back to Massachusetts during the pandemic and she stayed mostly in the Bay and also briefly stayed with family as I was doing. We kept dating in a way during this remote time, but 2 months was hardly enough of a foundation to make long distance work in a real sense. When I moved back to the Bay in May 2021, R helped me move in and we tried dating again, but our relationship had sort of drifted into more of a friendship and the romantic aspect felt off to both of us. From ~May-December, we stayed very close friends and had dinners/drinks 1-3 times weekly and even hosted some house parties together. By January, we had both developed feelings for one another again4 and we’ve been happily dating since and see this relationship extending into the long term.
This has been an unambiguously good development in my life and I’m excited to see where it leads. It also rather completely ties up one of my major sub themes for the year, which was to start taking dating and relationships more seriously. I genuinely did not expect this to happen, especially not even two weeks into the year, but I could not be happier that it did.
Focusing on fun
One thing that goes along with the early stages of a relationship is a lot of fun dates and traveling. Many of these have been better-documented on my Instagram but a few highlights have been:
- A weeklong getaway to San Francisco that included lots of touristy activities, including my first ride on a cable car
- Dinner at Sons & Daughters in SF, which was the best meal either R or I have ever had by a wide margin. It was also my first time eating at a Michelin Starred restaurant
- A long weekend in Cambridge, MA featuring some great local seafood and a chance for R to meet my parents
After having not taken much/any time off during the pandemic, taking time away from work to focus on building a solid relationship foundation and unwinding was very much needed and deserved.
Taking time to see the doctor
Beyond dating and travel, a major life change I’ve undertaken in the past few months is to start taking certain aspects of health more seriously. Without going into too many details, I’ve had some major concerns lately around two key things: fatigue/energy-levels and focus/executive function.
For fatigue, I always chalked it up to staying up too late (despite gradually going to bed earlier and earlier) or simply being worn out from the general state of the world. That all changed when I was informed that I snore mildly. Given a family history of sleep apnea, I was immediately concerned and began discussions with a sleep specialist. A sleep study is scheduled but based on our intake conversation he suspects this is something I have and that my sleep quality will improve dramatically if it is properly addressed. Keeping my finger crossed🤞that my doctor is right.
More significantly, I have suspected for years that I have undiagnosed ADHD. This is definitely a topic for another blog post, but in brief, I was finally able to seek out testing and confirmed that I do in fact have ADHD5and that based on a family/childhood history review there were signs present in childhood but that it isn’t too surprising they weren’t caught at the time. I write this not to seek any condolences, quite the opposite. Learning I have ADHD was enormously relieving and made me quite happy, as it gave me a framework through which to understand the past few years of my life and gives me a clear and actionable path forward in terms of taking steps (e.g., therapy, books/resources, and yes, possibly medication) to make positive life improvements.
A new idea: quarterly themes
While I still love and am sticking to my overall theme of
The Year of Adulting I have decided the quarterly themes may help give me some more clarity and focus in terms of achieving other goals. I am retroactively declaring these past few months as the
Winter of Love6 - as I found a deeply fulfilling romantic relationship and also found new ways to practice love towards my body and my brain.
With this idea retroactively applied, looking ahead I hope the rest of my year looks something like this:
⛄The Winter of Love
This is now (mostly) done and was a resounding success, genuinely some of the best few months of my life. ✅
🌸The Spring of Motion (April, May, June)
The focus here will be on physical fitness - some combination of cycling, walking, hiking, yoga/stretching, and basic strength training. A successful outcome will be building daily/weekly habits incorporating these things. Nearly every other goal will be secondary to this.
☀️The Summer of Change (July, August, September)
I expect to have to move at some point this summer. I’m not certain this will be the case, but I strongly suspect it. It might be a local move, it might be a longer distance move. Regardless, I do suspect to encounter some changes in my living situation/daily life over the summer. If this doesn’t happen, my focus will be on developing some new hobbies, namely a return to playing Dungeons and Dragons 🐉🎲 and possibly starting some more ambitious cooking/baking projects
🍁The Fall of Focus
By the fall, I’ll be settled in whatever living situation I choose. My health/fitness routines will be more established and I’ll hopefully have taken up some regular hobbies in addition to my renewed focus on travel. In the Fall, I will carry on in these routines but start a gradual shift towards more focused free time. As I get my ADHD in check, I suspect my ability to do things like read novels for fun will improve dramatically. I desperately want to not be stuck in a trap of checking social media all the time for fun, but when one has focus issues this is often the easiest/only possible thing to do. I have an ever-growing reading list and I hope to spend time learning in much more serious ways.
I want to end here with a visual status report which I’ll aim to carry forward on future reflection posts. I think this is a good format and the rose/thorn/bud system is a great way to summarize things
- Health: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐:star (5/5)
- Roses: starting to take mental + sleep health more seriously
- Thorns: none to speak of
- Buds: continuing to take these things seriously
- Fitness: ⭐⭐ (2/5)
- Roses: Investing in some new equipment, notably weights
- Thorns: Not actually exercising that much
- Buds: With the weather improving, outdoor hikes are much more on the table. I also have less travel planned over the coming months, so time to build up focused hobbies is much more attainable
- Relationships: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)
- Roses: I fell in love and am feeling great about it. My friendships are stronger than ever too.
- Thorns: Literally none.
- Buds: Exploring some local Meetup groups to make even more casual friends in the Bay Area.
- Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5)
- Roses: Did a lot of amazing travel and had some great experiences.
- Thorns: Still feel like too much of my downtime is spent on social media than on more “constructive” hobbies or activities (like reading or trying new video games).
- Buds:Have met some Bay Area friends who are interested in board/tabletop games, and am excited to continue these plans
- Career: ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5)
- Roses: Shipped some cool features recently that will improve our platform a lot
- Thorns: My focus issues made me drop the ball on one project. It’s fine, but I’m frustrated with myself and am eager to move past this.
- Buds: I’ll be getting a cool opportunity to learn some new stuff next quarter
That’s all for now, more to come 👋
I did, however, have an extended (nearly 3 hour) conversation with my best friend in late December about our planned themes. We recorded it and while it will never be public, it was an absolutely invaluable exercise and something we plan to do annually moving forward. ↩
I feel weird about using her full name, so I’ll just use her first initial. I don’t think she would care as it’s a fairly common name, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ↩
It was OK Cupid when OK Cupid used to be good and genuinely differentiated from other apps on the market. While I don’t have any particular need to be on dating apps now, the massive steps backwards that OK Cupid has taken in it’s UX and feature set to conform to the bland standards of every other Match Group app is quite sad. OK Cupid struck me as something of a haven for nerds, queer people, polyamorous folks, or anyone else seeking something somewhat “unconventional,” but now it looks like every other dating app. I want to write about this more in the future… ↩
I am eternally grateful to her for having the guts to say something, as I felt too anxious to broach the subject… ↩
Specifically I have “mild, inattentive ADHD”, which is quite different from the “hyperactive” variant that is more stereotypical. ↩