my thoughts 23 days into 2023
We're already almost 1/12 into the new year and I decided to take this arbitrary day to reflect on the year so far. It happens to be 23 days in, which sounds a lot cooler than 24 days in 2023 - don't place too much importance on numbers, it really means nothing.
I think for most people in the United States, especially for those that graduated college near my class (2019), 2023 is probably going to be the first post new-normal year. Many of us had less than a year of the real world without COVID, and it seems like residue still spilled over into 2022. Fingers crossed that I don't need to put a diaper on my face ever again, but with gratefulness, it's likely that 2023 will (at least for the time being) be a "normal year." I'm going to reflect with that assumption and have decided to treat this year as my first full year being a "real adult" and a time to really get after it. My life motto, living life to the fullest, seems fully applicable for the first time. Of course, this is surrounded by a multitude of excuses, but now COVID truly can't take center stage.
If 2020-2021 was a period of working on aspects of my personal life that was right in front of me (my career, my weight, my relationships, my faith) and 2022 was seeing the fruits that came from making such enhancements, I see 2023 as the year to tackle what was long overdue. This isn't solely COVID's fault - in fact, I've seen plenty of people return the library books they've held on since elementary school, the same books I've resisted letting go thanks to my pride. It's really been the past couple weeks that's helped me realize that pride is truly the enemy of growth, and no one cares about my pride as much as I do. So if I decide to let that go, I firmly believe there' s not much left standing in my way of hitting and beating my current potential cap.
To be clear - I'm talking about both extremely tangible things (to which you may scoff depending on your level of societal maturity) as well as things that may be core to my identity (to which I have identified to be limiting factors for my next stage of growth). I find it fundamental to publicize such things as it'll (1) keep me accountable (2) allow me to visualize what needs to be done.
I've placed a heightened focus in improving my aesthetics - and I truly mean the bare minimum (or at least what anyone my age should consider a bare minimum). I've pushed this area of my life off for awhile purely based on rather unwarranted pride that people like me for my lack of effort (which one needs to be at Mark Zuckerberg's level of success and perhaps social ignorance to be accepted and somewhat praised) and in part, laziness. It's not that I don't have time or have a deep hatred towards looking good, I just always believed the marginal cost of buying sunscreen or succumbing to not only wearing NFT merch was the "lame" thing to do. After being pestered by friends (especially female ones) varying from teens (my Sunday school kids - a necessary disclaimer in 2023) to my mother, I've finally recognized that no matter how much you try to stride against the coming currents, if currents ranging from 10s to 50s all wish upon the same thing, it's perhaps time to listen. In terms of tangible implementation, I have invested (somewhat heavily) into skin care (which I, shamefully, am already seeing results after extensively arguing for a decade that all of skincare is a scam), asking advice to friends and family on what to wear, learning to dry my hair instead of letting nature dry it, and somewhat thinking about how I walk and standing up straight. I'm still confident that the current marginal efforts (which are extreme as I've never really done any of these things before) don't match up to the marginal returns (yes the first week I did this many have commented "what's going on," but it's not as if I suddenly have a filled Instagram DM box). It's important to note that this truly is an experiment and if there are no tangible returns, I'm fully ready (and somewhat anticipating) to return to what I view as normal. I expect this part of my 2023 to have the most interesting yet frustrating results - if it works, then I have been wrong; if it doesn't work, I've spent money and time for naught.
For the "intangible" - I've severely recognized the need to listen more. This is a direct counterpart to realizing that I talk too much. I'm still firm in my belief that I'm an unbelievably gifted speaker - this has been verified across all demographics, especially in the past year or so. But that has only boosted my pride and confidence in a rather dangerous manner. I often find myself going on "autopilot" and speaking for hours on end without recognizing that the interest may not have been reciprocated. And even if the "audience" was captivated or enjoyed the time they spent with me, I fully expect them to be exhausted on the way home or questioning if they were able to express their end of the dialogue. Conversation is a two way streak and I find myself (in 99% of social interactions) to force it into a one direction road. In the spirit of speaking less, this goal of 2023 requires no further explanation. I'm excited to listen.
One important realization that the commitment to these "improvement strides" have given me is the importance of placing individuals in your life that (1) know you well and (2) aren't afraid to give you feedback based on what they know. I don't find it a coincidence that perhaps for the first time in my life, I'm truly finding the need to make such improvements based on those around me telling me such things in a healthy but firm manner. Of course, my age is coming into play and I'm no longer the 15 year old that can walk around with pimples and a hoodie and be excused - but a large majority of why I'm able to recognize such needs is because of the wonderful people in my life. You know who you are. I think I've spent enough of my life (I will continue to do so, regardless) finding the right people to make me a better person. I'm continuously shocked and blessed to know that this stream never seems to end. The same way that investors expect returns from their investments, I cynically am excited for my personal investors to see high ROIs this year from seeing Bryan Jun take on the next step and post results on what has been long overdue.
Final personal enhancement I've been holding out on sharing publicly as it's a commitment I'm scared to make. It's something I've struggled to do for as long as I can remember, purely out of selfishness. Ironically it's an act that I'm probably the most suited for in any social circumstance, just behavior that I'm intentionally restricting myself from. I aspire to be a champion for those that may lack social competence but desire to be included in social settings. It's something I've never really experienced, always had the power to resolve, but prioritized my own pleasures and agendas to overlook those in need. I've been embracing the mentality that if someone's day could be made by 15 seconds of my effort, there's really no better calling or higher return. I've postponed this behavior for 25 years, and I think it's time to put in time where it's due. I truly hope all of you reading keep me accountable.
If you've seen the rest of my digital footprint, you know I'm not cussing or drinking for 2023. But I'm now recognizing the things I've shared in this piece are perhaps more important, and far more challenging than those two simplicities. Not surprisingly, most of what I need to work on in 2023 involve my vocal chords and lips.
Here's to the remaining 342. Cheers.