We are already more than one month into 2020, but still not too late to say happy New Year! After a period of being home and starting my second semester of classes in Paris, I’m finally taking the time to reflect on the past year.
2019 was so much I can’t even describe – or, at least, I can try to. Like my friend Lynn said, “this year felt like a rom-com, a psychological thriller, a mystery, and a coming-of-age movie all at once.” Even though it’s not that intense, I couldn’t find a better sum-up of everything 2019 brought into my life. There were so many challenging moments, filled with pain and growth, but also a lot of moments full of joy and love. I guess the bigger the pain, the better the reward. I’m deeply grateful for all the experiences and lessons that guided me throughout the year. I’ve come to learn so much, and it feels like I’ve grown five years in one. I’m here to reflect on this.
Last year, I did another annual review, My 2018 Reflections, inspired by James Clear’s Annual Review and using his format. I found it really efficient, so I will be using it again. The review works by asking yourself three questions:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What did I learn?
It is such an easy process and helps you put things in perspective a lot! I recommend using it for your personal reflection. I feel the need to mention that my reflections are strictly personal – nothing you should take as advice, because oh man I am far from being a wise and responsible person! No jokes.
If my mantra last year was to follow my heart, my 2020 mantra is to focus on myself. This is because 2019 taught me what it’s like to lose yourself, and, even more dangerous, to lose yourself in another person. Is this like a thing specific to 20 year-old kids? I was recently reading my psychology notes, and young adulthood was described as “finding oneself while losing oneself in another person, and it requires a commitment to another person.” (based on Eriksonian Theory) I see this “another person” as another identity within you, but to be honest I think it can pretty much be literally another person.
Enough with the philosophies, let’s begin the 2019 review!
What went well this year?
This is just a reminder that anything you set your mind to is possible, if you keep going and following your faith and courage.
Flow Mindfulness Club. I’ve had the following vision in mind for a while: having a place where students can meet weekly to focus on mindfulness practices and simply learn to enjoy the beauty of the present moment. Creating Flow was exactly that. Every week, we met for a series of self-development activities, discussions, and meditations, all centered on a specific weekly theme. The energy of the group was always incredibly positive and high, and it left me with so much happiness and gratitude every time a Flow session was ending. It was like the pause moment everyone needed that we all took with us after in our day-to-day activities. We discussed the meaning of duality, meditated on how we envision our future, did yoga sequences, watched psychological movies, went to a mindful trip at the museum of art, did a walking meditation in nature, wrote love letters to our future self, and so many other practices that, in a way, were the root of my quotidian activities. Even though towards the end of the year Flow took a break due to my study abroad, my visions on what I want to do with this club are still there, and I’m excited to see what the future holds! Sessions will resume soon.
Working Out. Probably my best year so far in terms of exercising, thanks to discovering the EverybodyFights gym and training there! These guys became my second family. Whenever I needed a power trip or motivation boost, I was taking my gym clothes and going to EBF. The smiles on their face and their welcoming attitude was making everything even more exciting. Also the fact that I was training with my friend Mil, who helped me to keep going, even in the days I was not quite feeling it.
Travel. Places I’ve traveled to in 2019 – Bucharest, Romania; Philadelphia, PA; Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Pacific Coast Highway, CA (incredible spring break trip); Washington, D.C.; Cape May, New Jersey (my seaside adventures for the summer); New York, New York; Paris, France; Normandie, France; Giverny, Auvers-sur-Oise, France. I would have loved to go to Boston and Florida and they were actually on the plans, but couldn’t manage to do it last year. Still have time to make it come true!
Blogging. Compared to 2018, I had less posts and less views on my blog. However, I feel like there was less quantity, but better quality, especially in the first half of the year. Best performing post was On Modern Love / Perspectives on Romance in Nowadays’ World, which I know resonated deeply with a lot of my readers. Here’s how the year looked: 14 posts published, 2,367 unique visitors, almost 5,000 views, out of which most of them are from Romania, United States, United Kingdom, and France. Makes sense, since these are the countries I have the most connections with. Here’s a quick overview of the views at the global scale (top 13, if that’s a top haha).
First job ever. I’ve written all about it here, and also made a video talking about my first co-op experience. This was definitely one of the highlights of 2019. I loved working in an agency setting, learning more about the digital marketing field, and making so many valuable connections. For my first job ever, and also being an ocean away from home, a lot of challenges appeared, but thanks to my mindfulness practices and people who I surrounded myself with, I faced them properly! Go me!
What didn’t go so well this year?
Many things could have been improved. Acknowledging them is the first step to growth and learning,
USGA Sophomore Class. Here, I’m talking about my personal involvement in USGA. If during my freshman year I was dedicated fully to everything the organization was doing, being an agent of change, my sophomore year I was much less involved. I felt as if I focused mainly on managerial tasks – organizing the meetings, the agenda, the communication -, and not as much on ideation and practice. This is probably the result of my shift in priorities, as co-op was one of my highest priorities last year. Anyway, I still had an amazing team, loved them so much, and the organization grew exponentially! Thanking them for teaching me what community, service, diversity, inclusion, empathy, and mindful leadership really mean. Again, the class and organization went really well, it’s just my personal involvement that I was not satisfied with!
Producing video content. My goodness I feel like this is a recurrent thing. 2019 was definitely really low on producing video content, but fortunately the second half of the year was better. I published a couple videos: Working in America, Packing My Life and Moving to Europe, and the Paris Diaries series! Many more are in the works!
Reading. It was really difficult to keep up with my readings, but one trick that worked for me a lot this year was to read in the morning and instead of staying on my phone on my way to and from work, I would read a book instead. I noticed this increased my energy so much, for myself but also in the way I was interacting with other people!
Making art. Did not make time for this and I felt it fully and deeply. Something has to change, that’s for sure. Fortunately, since I got to Paris, the city inspired me much more to create and I started slow, with sketches in coffee shops or poems written while waiting for the subway. Does wearing cute outfits count as art? I would say yes.
What did I learn this year?
Prioritize and plan first. If I don’t take time for this, my life will begin looking like some sort of ocean in which I am swimming and being taken away by any wave that comes by, finally asking myself, in deep confusion, why did I deviate so much from my initial plan. The importance of planning and prioritizing is huge, reason why I started 2020 by writing my SMART objectives, revising my systems, checking in with my daily habits, and creating a digital planner that tracks all I want to accomplish until the end of the year. Well, we’ll see how efficient this will turn out.
Keep moving. This whole year in Philly, I had a note written on my wall: The slower you move, the faster you die. Pretty harsh, right? Not sure where I’ve seen this, but it resonated with me in the sense that sometimes, I find myself taking so long to do things, overthinking and wandering with non-sense. That was my call to action, my call to keep moving, to keep going. Even when everything seems like it is not leading anywhere, keep going and the teachings will arise.
Social media detox. Every year, I like to take some time to do a social media detox. I realized I want to do this more, even for one day, two days, and not necessarily for 3-week periods. It is about installing the habit of checking it less often, and learning how to use it only for the important stuff: inspiration, sharing ideas, creative outlet, but not for: comparison, toxic stalking, or aimless scrolling. Yep, this can happen, and sometimes I catch myself doing this and I’m pretty frustrated, but accept the situation and learn from it.
Habits, habits, habits! This was on my list of learnings last year as well. Habits are essential to my productivity, and using a habit tracker really helps me keep up with everything I want to incorporate in my daily life for a more mindful, peaceful, healthy way of living. Below is an example of how my current habit tracker looks (for the month of February).
Time and patience. I need these two key ingredients more. We all do.
That’s all! Thank you all for reading.
May this new decade bring a lot of connection, joy, precious moments, and love to all of us! I’m looking forward to what 2020 has in store of myself, the communities I’m surrounded with, and humanity in general.
Keep being you and following your star!