What I’ve learned in 2021

This is a self-reflection list I make every December and quite enjoy it. Helps me pause and ground myself. These notes to self allow me to understand how all the things – good and bad – in the year that have gone by have impacted me and where my thoughts and emotions stand as this year comes to a close.

1. Life is filled with its little miseries. Petites misères de la vie humaine. This is something Vincent Van Gogh mentioned several times to his brother in his letters. Whenever he spoke of something unpleasant, he just mentioned it so casually. Oh, well, these are just the little miseries of life. That acceptance of this universal fact is something that struck me. And whenever I was going through something terrible but routine, I just told myself: It is what it is. Less poetic and less French but it had the same impact.

2. Just like space exploration and AI are the investment themes for this decade, ghosting people is the behavioural theme in friendships and relationships now. People will get rid of you as quickly as they do a strand of loose hair on their t-shirt when just a few minutes ago they couldn’t stop adorning their hair when it was still intact. I wish I could articulate this analogy better but what I mean is, everybody treats their hair so preciously until it falls off and is this isolated, embarrassing, useless strand. Not that you are. But people have started treating people like this. When you no longer fit their life or schedule or disposition as perfectly as you used to or as they would have liked, they forget you are this whole human being and just shrug you off. Dispose you. It sucks and it hurts and it’s unfair on so many different levels but with a heavy heart, I have to now admit and accept, that this is just another petites misères de la vie humaine.

3. I keep giving five-star treatment to people who give me two-star treatment and I need to stop rationalising that – both their and my behaviour – into okayness. Yes, there clearly is something so deep rooted in me that makes me do this. Maybe it is a trauma response. Maybe it’s just me accepting the love I think I deserve. Maybe it is me being a people pleaser. I don’t know. And at this point what I really want to do is this: Change it. I can keep figuring out the cause in the background. Clarity like that takes time. But I cannot wait to figure that out to change this behaviour.

4. You are not cool with just vibing with a guy and with keeping things casual. You want something that is undeniably real, wholesome, real, mutual. Something that is long-lasting and healthy and precious and there is nothing wrong about wanting that. Nothing at all. And if that makes you “uncool” then that is fine. Who wants to be cool when they can be happy, satisfied, instead?

5. Therapy is not all that it is hyped up to be. It’s very subjective. When you want to heal from past trauma, I can see why it can be helpful and effective. But when you are going through horrible things in the present, it can do absolutely nothing other than give you some coping mechanisms that may or may not work when shit hits the fan. Also, therapy is not this magical thing that will “fix you” or your therapist won’t always say these wise things that will be revelations. It is a lot of work and voicing things you have never been able to and sitting through uncomfortable feelings and moments. Coming across the right therapist, too, is a task. Just because someone is a psychologist or whatever does not mean they are good. You have to tread carefully.

6. Pretty privilege is a very real thing. You not liking that that’s how the world works doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t make things any easier for you either. You rejected conventions and societal standards so consistently for so long and while I am proud of you, I also now see that to change what you don’t like or accept, you need to have the power to be seen and noticed and heard. Money, beauty, charm, these are very central to that in this world. It is what is.

7. 한국어를 배우는 것은 긴 여정있어요. 하지만 열심히 공부할 거예요. 그리고 나는 인내하고 헌신할 거예요. 왜나면 이게 내가 원하는 거니까 // Learning Korean is a long journey. But I am going to study hard. And I am going to be patient and dedicated. Because this is what I want.

8. Stop being the first one to present your feelings. It does not afford you the first mover advantage but rather leaves no tricks up your sleeve. And god knows people love magic tricks. Even sincere things require calculations. Not because you are being manipulative or vain but because you need to let time allow things to run their course. And add some speed bumps to the runway of your feelings.

9. It’s only this year that I realized that your sun sign gives you a very limited and inaccurate view of your personality when viewed in isolation. It’s like looking at the rainbow but only seeing one colour. So I found out my rising sign and my moon sign and life just started making more sense instantly. My rising sign is Aquarius. The one sign I always resonated so much with. My sun sign is Capricorn. Parts of which I related to but the others just seemed so inaccurate? I know a lot of people think astrology is illogical but I think that’s just because they don’t know the first thing about it. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be into it. But I am. Getting into it anyway. And I am not going to let anyone embarrass me about it.

10. It can do you a world of good if you pay attention to the insanely rich and successful men even if you don’t like them. Reading about how they built what they built, what their investment strategy is, what their take on the future of XYZ is, is more enlightening than you may want to give them credit for. But think of Park Sae Ro-Yi from Itaewon Class. He read, multiple times, the biography of CEO Jang, the man who covered up his father’s death. Sae Ro-yi did that while he was put into jail wrongfully. But he was clever. He picked up that book and he learned everything he could from it. And then he applied it with his personal values to get the results he wanted.

11. Don’t overestimate people’s feelings for you. That is dangerous. You may think someone actually cares about you because you picked up on some things they say about you or to you but the truth is words are cheap. And even actions are subjective. Someone may do X for every person and not just for someone they actually like. Don’t inflate other people’s feelings, actions, words towards you in your head.

12. You love iced coffee. Irrespective of the weather. It’s okay. Continue.

13. Time most probably is an illusion. This feeling of not grasping how much time has gone by, how it’s already a specific month, how I am already this old – it is not fleeting. I think it’s just going to stay this way moving forward. This lowkey amusement and disbelief and inability to wrap my head around the passage of time and the speed at which it passes by me, through me, and sometimes with me. So carpe fucking diem. But not to do stupid things. To do whatever it is that you really want. There is no point to anything, anyway. You can make yourself go crazy trying to figure out what’s the purpose of life and why we are put on this earth but you already know that just means more time passes by and you’re left in a stew of your stale thoughts. Step out. Take a shower. Go for a walk even if there is microdust. Put on music. Get your favourite coffee. Do artsy stuff. Be art. Be.

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