Reflecting on 2022

Recently, I came across a good list of retrospective journal prompts on Twitter via The Moon Lists. I thought that this year, instead of a reflection listicle, I’d respond to them instead:

My brain chemistry

Looking back in my camera roll, the difference between December 2021 and December 2022 is jarring. My hair was so blonde! My thoughts were so intrusive! Thankfully, both have abated thanks to a fantastic salon appointment in Shibuya and the Passage of Time, respectively.

They say that your frontal lobe finally develops fully when you turn 25, and honestly, I believe it. However one may explain it, some sort of peace finally descended upon me in the latter half of 2022.

The veil of delusion

Another thing that I think has radically transformed this year is my ability to see beneath what I am calling ‘the veil of delusion’. We all live in a fantasy state of some sort in our heads, but I have chronically dealt with a very strong alternative narrative in my head. The desire for what could be is so strong sometimes that it supersedes the reality of what is. I want to do this less because I am a big fan of reality and using my energy efficiently. Also, it’s not fair to the people in your life, either, to project your image of what you want them to be over who they really are.

Curly, crispy velocity

To that end, I hope to continue honing my skill to perceive people, situations, and the passage of time accurately. It’s not necessarily a divorce of thought and emotion, but rather a further emphasis on pragmatic logic. It’s very easy for me to get mired in emotion and overthinking, which detracts from actions and results. Maybe this sounds too industrial of me, but these days I really feel myself craving velocity–that curly, crispy tongue of change. For once, I no longer want to imagine—I want to execute. So here goes.

It’s cool to try

Less abstractly, I would love to throw more themed parties and take more film pictures of my friends in 2023. I’m entering my extrovert era for sure! Something about this year—maybe all the traveling, being away from home—made me realize that none of this is forever. I want to really document and celebrate my 20s in New York City, because someday my life will look very different. I decided I want to put more effort into cultivating larger gatherings, making things beautiful, and sharing my joy.

From: Me
To: Me

Manifesting is real. It’s a process that I cannot explain very well, but ultimately, I think it’s about confirmation bias—you see what you seek. I am going to take credit for manifesting the following: international travel, pet-sitting gigs, rooftop parties, free concerts, and a lot of “being in the right place in the right time” moments.

Dancing on my own

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to take 52 dance classes—and while this did not happen (I probably took closer to half), I did definitely dance way more than I ever had this year. I filmed a few professionally filmed choreos and got to a new level of comfort and confidence in my body that I could not have imagined even just two years ago.

I want to continue dancing more this year, with the addition of practicing outside of class in the yoga studio in my apartment building, which I think will really help me put in the hours and get even better.

Reality – expectations = happiness

The purest joys that bubble up in my life are always the ones I didn’t expect, created in effervescent moments of happenstance. In Mexico, meeting the nicest taxi drivers who spent all day carting around us group of girls like we were their own nieces, exploring hidden gems and local cuisine. In Japan, meeting the friendliest group of fellow photographers and expats and instantly feeling like I was at home, exploring the city at golden hour and soaking it all in.

As a fastidious planner, experiencing these things and realize that they were actually the highlight of my trip—things I could not have done by myself or anticipated–encourages me to let go a little more and enjoy things in the moment. The kindness of strangers is something I never want to stop celebrating!

What goes down smoothly

I am always harping on about my desire to be smooth-brained, but beyond the statistical fact that the smarter you are, the more depressed you are likely to be, I’ve found another supporting fact. It’s because the more you expect, the more unhappy you are. Part of being smooth-brained for me is just not thinking, not having any lofty ideals or expectations—thus freeing up the space for delights, surprises, and little joys. (Maybe this is a little black-or-white of me, but let me swing the pendulum for now, okay?)

Portrait snapped by one of my friends in Tokyo

Running

This year, I ran my first 5K, and it felt surprisingly good. I am under no delusion that I am a cardio person, but next year, my goal is to run a 10K under 66 minutes. I signed up for one in May already, so if anyone wants to train with me at a humble pace, let me know!       

Creating video content

Social media made a hard pivot this year towards video content, and I acquiesced accordingly . I had a couple little clips go (relatively) viral this year, which was fun for me because I love creating content. I’ve been trying to vlog since 2015, so the fact that short-form video is easier to create than ever is a good thing, I think. I even made a little money from Reels this year, which is pretty funny—I am living my micro-micro-micro-influencer dreams!

Speaking of stale…

I relaxed some of my old rules around eating this year, primarily around consuming meat or dairy at home. I think it’s been a net positive for me to become more flexible and eat intuitively, but now that I’ve become more attuned to my body than ever, I think it’s time to try reintroducing some healthy boundaries again. Three components to this:

  • More locally sourced animal products: I started tracking macros this year and am still trying to eat a lot of protein, so my compromise for 2023 is to buy mostly ethically sourced or local meat and eggs. My company’s new office is right off Union Square, and I have to start going in a few days a week next year, which means I now have a great reason to be at the farmer’s market on weekday mornings!
  • Less ready-to-eat food: Ever since a Trader Joe’s opened in my neighborhood, I’ve been consuming a lot more packaged meals and a lot less fresh produce. It’s been hard to let go of the convenience factor, but I want to push myself next year to return to my old Whole Foods haunts and only go into TJ’s once a week
  • Less takeout, more cultural cooking: I’ve been the food delivery service industry’s number one hater since day one, but even I will fold now and then on a particularly dark and cold night, or in the face of a $10 off code. What I realized about my food ordering habits, when I do, is that I always crave comfort Asian food—so my resolution next year is to learn how to make easy recipes like sundubu-jjigae or stir-fried garlic eggplant myself.

Horizontal hedonism and other pleasures

Oh boy. I’m sure my Instagram followers/lurkers/haters are sick of hearing about this, but I have to be true to the prompt and tell you. Truthfully, the entire second half of 2022 has felt like eating a slice of velvety chocolate cake—or maybe I should say, biting in a fluffy, chewy, pillowy-soft strawberry daifuku. I’ll try to rein in the verbosity and just name these three things: flying business class, wool blend scarves, and really, really good sushi.

Voice memo mailbox

This one’s a bit tricky, because to some extent the definition of comfort is something old and known that you go back to again and again, like a cozy sweater or a passed-down family recipe. However, I will say a small comfort I found this year is sending voice memos. At this point, I should just start a podcast, because I end up volleying like 20-minute-long messages to my friends (bless their hearts).

Beneath this novel comfort, however, is a familiar one: I get such a sense of stability and peace from talking to my friends. Other than that, all my creature comforts remain the same: taking a hot shower, buying overpriced candles and crop tops, and curling up in a nest of pillows in my own bed.

TowardAway
Dinner parties
Dark Mode
Even more sunscreen
A reasonable amount of glitter
Cultural recipes
Half-up hairdos
Taking care of your fabrics
Globetrotting
Routines
TikTok captions in Instagram posts
Fruit juice
Hypochondriasis
Most skincare
Most expectations
Thrifting fast-fashion items
Lengthy backstories
Trader Joe’s
Rules

I started to jot down potential answers—

Watching a sunset

A notebook & a new place

The gym

—And, although I barely know who I am or where I call home, realized that these three things have one thing in common: they force me to be present. Perhaps self-identity is not found in the act of identification itself, but rather in the being of it all.

Here’s to 2023.

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