Growing, Galloping, Gaining
2022 at a Glance
📚 Read 24 books
🧋 Consumed 21 boba drinks (↑ by 1 from 2021)
👩🏻💻 Screamed at 6,692+ lines of code
✍️ Wrote 45,186+ meaningful words (i.e. not emails)
🌟 Watched 4 Star Wars shows (unnecessary for storytelling, mandatory as a nerd)
Reviewing Goals from 2021 Wrapped
In 2021 Wrapped, I set 4 goals. I like to use the word “goals” instead of “resolutions,” because “resolutions” seem far more intimidating for some reason. (My success with past “resolutions” historically ended around January 15, which would have made for some pretty sad year-end Substack reflections.)
A big theme of my 2022 was intentionality — I definitely think these 4 goals helped guide me in realizing and cultivating that.
🎤 Perform on stage. (Grade: A)
Last year, I wrote that I wanted “to force myself to take center stage,” thinking that meant I would try something like stand-up comedy once. Nope! Despite my lifelong fear of public speaking, I — a hardcore introvert — ended up falling in love with stand-up comedy and performed regularly at comedy shows at Harvard and open mics in Boston. I also pushed myself to give book talks and speak on podcasts*, through which I met many incredible creators and community leaders.
(* A friend and I once discussed that if we start a podcast one day, it would be named “Startups and Breakups.” That said, I strongly believe that the world does not need another podcast.)
🔁 Build genuine relationships and community. (Grade: B)
I originally envisioned this goal applying to forging deeper relationships with new acquaintances. What actually happened in 2022 was that I dedicated more time to fewer relationships, which included both existing and new friendships. While I still spent time meeting new people (e.g. in the startup community, on Hinge, through Twitter), I found the deliberate focus on fewer relationships to be more meaningful and genuine than spreading myself thin trying to keep up many friendships at surface-level depth.
📹 Capture more memories on video. (Grade: A)
My aversion to capturing videos was rooted in a fear of not living in the present enough. But this did not materialize at all! In the fall I started using the 1 Second Everyday app and enjoyed documenting mundane glimpses of my daily life; then each month I posted that month’s ~30-second compilation on my Instagram. I plan to continue this in 2023.
💪 Make time for physical, mental, and emotional health. (Grade: C)
My mental and emotional health trended up in the second half of the year after consistently journaling and articulating out any internal blocks, fears, and knots out in a physical notebook. My sleep schedule traversed in the opposite direction — I’m currently writing this sentence at 1:45am, for example… There is certainly a lot of improvement I can make in prioritizing physical health.
It’s still crazy to remember that I published a book in 2022! My first half of the year especially centered on its marketing and release. (For anyone curious, these were the first book cover designs my publisher sent me. I am proud to say that the cover has come a long way.)
In the second half of the year, I battled burnout and feelings of what next? as both a writer and a person. My writing journey pivoted from years of writing fiction to 1.5+ years writing nonfiction; as a result I felt simultaneously drawn to and disconnected from both worlds. This led me to spend more time tiptoeing at the crevice of the two worlds instead: creative nonfiction (which I’m hopeful to share more of here on my Substack in 2023).
In a year full of writing, I also experienced two new milestones in having a poem and a short story published in literary magazines for the first time. I continued to publish technical articles (ML image retrieval, Web3 gaming). But I can never stray far from the other form of writing I love to do — writing code — and enjoyed having more time in the latter half of 2022 getting back to tinkering and building new side projects.
In Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong writes “There was a transparency to comedy that I wasn’t finding in poetry. Comedians can’t pretend they don’t have identities. They’re up there, onstage, with their bodies against a brick wall like they’re facing a firing squad. There’s nowhere to hide.”
I felt this firsthand when I performed comedy for the first time on stage in March. I find stand-up comedy to be the most vulnerable form of public speaking because you are being judged by the audience at every second — are you funny enough to deserve their laughter? However, what seems like the most frightening aspect is, to me, the most beautiful aspect of stand-up comedy as an art form: for those few minutes, the audience is listening to you — and you alone.
My comedy sets have poked fun at anything ranging from my cooking mishaps to Wordle, American math education to my family’s favorite Yeo (of course it’s Michelle Yeoh). Turning daily observations into well-written sets, then delivering it with a performative flair, is a sequence of steps that seemed far more challenging than I initially expected. I’m excited to continue performing and honing my craft in 2023 and beyond.
(I’ve also been working on a longer personal essay about performing comedy, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested!)
I really enjoyed taking a wide range of courses this year, including my first HBS class and psychology class. A class about the science of sleep did not, as I had wishfully anticipated, in fact fix my sleep schedule. My Data Systems class was singlehandedly responsible for 80% of my BeReals in 2022 being me weakly smiling at the camera with code and terminal shells strewn across my monitor.
CS 282r: Advanced Topics in Machine Learning
Harvard Business School: Making Markets
Harvard Business School: Entrepreneurial Failure
English 111: Epic - From Homer to Star Wars
Psych 1406: Biological and Artificial Visual Systems
Teaching Fellow for Harvard’s inaugural CS 96r: Machine Learning for Social Good course
English CNFR: Creative Nonfiction Workshop
English Seminar: Digital Race Studies
CS 165: Data Systems
CS 279r: Research Topics in HCI x AI
Gened 1038: Science of Sleep
Goals for 2023
💪 Prioritize physical health.
💭 Spend more time journaling and reflecting.
🙌 Intentionally build and create more.
💖 Cultivate and maintain individual relationships with greater depth.
🗣 Book a comedy show.
So very grateful to everyone who made my 2022 the incredible year it was. May the Force be with you all in 2023 :) I leave you with this:
If you enjoyed this, comment on Substack or reply to this email directly! Find me on Twitter @catherinehyeo for more musings and memes entering the new year.
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