2019 Year in Review
It’s about that time again! Another annual recap and self-indulgent reflection to close out this chapter... 😅
2019 wasn’t nearly as tumultuous as 2018, but it came with its own challenges, triumphs, and of course, indelible memories.
From the outside, many major life transitions happened, especially in the latter half of the year: I moved apartments, switched roommates, changed jobs, started a side gig, and let go of several long-standing relationships.
At the same time, I still lived in Koreatown, went back to work at the first company that hired me after college, strengthened my closest friendships, and continued many of the hobbies and passions I started last year.
A constant struggle I had was my sense of personal development. I often felt like I was growing so much in some areas, yet remaining stagnant or repeating the same mistakes in others. For example, one day I’d feel incredibly wise and mature after giving a college student some *sage* career advice. The next day, I’d turn into a literal child, calling my parents to whine about my first world problems. 🤦🏻♀️
But overall, I strived to create a much healthier headspace — one that grew stronger and more resilient to negative thoughts and self-doubt. I learned how to channel my anxieties and insecurities in more productive ways, namely through yoga, meditation, and self-care. I realized the types of people that bring the best out of me all have one big thing in common: a kind heart. And I finally let go of my ‘ideal timeline’ to follow in my 20’s.
If I had to summarize my 2019 learnings with one silly cliche, it would be this: quality over quantity. This year I decided to be more precious with my time by choosing more intentionally how to spend my weekends and who to spend them with. As a result, this year’s reflection will also attempt to be more *intentional*. Instead of cataloging every single thing I did like last year, I only want to share the things that had the biggest impact.
So, without further ado, here they are:
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang: A collection of short stories that poses big, profound questions with elegance and poignancy. Despite exploring science-fiction themes like time travel, this book made me think AND feel in the most humanly way possible.
- Becoming by Michelle Obama: To be honest, I couldn’t get through her memoir the first time, but the second time I read it, I grew a much deeper respect and admiration. The stories Michelle shared about her childhood, upbringing, and struggles as the First Lady are lessons I hope to borrow for my future family.
- Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino: Barely squeezed this book in for 2019, but holy sh*t, am I glad I did (thanks, Deb!). Jia’s writing is such a BOLD and witty take on different cultural issues, from feminism and religion, to drugs and social media. Her writing made me feel both horrified and mystified — a kind of reality wake-up call I didn’t know I needed.
- Parasite: I’ll keep this brief. If you watch one movie this year, watch Parasite. GO. NOW.
- Marriage Story: Even though Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson made me want to never get married (or at the very least, sign a prenup), Marriage Story moved me in ways I can’t explain. It’s raw, heartbreaking, yet full of hope. By the end of the film, you feel for BOTH characters — something that’s not easy for a movie with two clear-cut “sides” to achieve.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Perhaps my favorite Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction, this love letter to 1960s Hollywood was simply irresistible. Like most Tarantino movies, it felt like I was reading a beautiful novel. Extremely long but extremely satisfying to watch.
- The Farewell: Just read my reaction here. 😭❤️
- Jojo Rabbit: My feel-good movie of the year. The main kid and his best friend (Roman Griffin Davis & Archie Yates) are adorable!
- I’m totally cheating in this category because I’m still making an exhaustive laundry list, BUT I ALSO LOVED the following: Bombshell, Ford vs. Ferrari, Knives Out, Little Women, Pain and Glory, Peanut Butter Falcon, The Irishman, and Waves.
What can I say, 2019 was the f*cking year for movies.
- How I Built This: There’s a reason this is the podcast I listen to the most.
- Finding Fred: We always talk about ‘Most Influential People’ of the year, but if there was one influential deceased person, I feel like it’d be Fred Rogers. Perhaps it’s because of the dire state of our current political scene that’s made me so cynical, but Finding Fred is the podcast that always restores my faith in humanity. We need more Mister Rogers in this world.
- Slow Burn: I was only recently introduced to this podcast (thx again Deb), and I’m surprised by how much I like it. It’s a LOT of information, but great for anyone who wants a deeper dive into topics like the Watergate scandal.
- Hasan Minhaj: I love Hasan. To quote TIME magazine, “Patriot Act is the manifestation of his whip-smart commentary, charisma and sincerity.”
- Ashley AKA Best Dressed: Ashley is younger than me at only 21, but she feels like the cool big sister I never had. Girl is killing it on YouTube, wise beyond her years, and basically my #goals in every aspect of life.
- Daniel Jones: I’m convinced Daniel Jones, the editor of Modern Love by The New York Times, has my dream job. I’ve been following this column for years, and it’s still the first thing I read every Monday of the week.
Also, special shout-out to the actual people in my life: My parents, Kristi, Sharon, Jennifer, Katie, Nathan, Michael, Vinh, Benedict, Diana, Laura, Justin, Rachel, & Deborah. Each of you made a unique or profound impact on my year.
- Chicago: I didn’t get to travel too much this year, but Chicago was the one place I’m thankful I made time for a trip. Granted, we visited in May so the weather was much nicer than usual — but, c’mon any city that has a riverwalk and a lake surrounding it is sure to be a sight for sore eyes.
- New Orleans: Although I didn’t luuuuv New Orleans, I have to give it a nod for the delicious food. It was my first time in the South, and now I can understand why Southerners take so much pride in their cuisine.
- My Apartment Pool: LOL this is technically a place, right? Yeah, ok — I’m not ashamed to admit I spent a lot of time at home. It’s where I read books, wrote poetry, and shared some intimate conversations with friends.
- Reading to Kids: I really love this service organization and its mission. Read about it here if you’re interested.
- Yoga: The single event that shaped my mental, physical, and emotional health this year was becoming a Yoga Barre instructor. What started out as a mere hobby has turned into a passion…and now a source of income! 🧘♀️
- Medium: My second safe space outside of the yoga studio, Medium continues to be the platform where I can be my most authentic self.
Looking ahead to 2020, I don’t have too many lofty goals or expectations. At the moment, only three big ones come to mind:
- My first goal is to become more informed and well-versed in politics as it is a presidential election year.
- My second goal is to re-distribute a majority of my free time that I currently spend on social media to peruse more books, listen to more podcasts, and watch more movies.
- My last goal is to explore other forms of creative writing outside of just blogging. This is scary to write out loud, but I’ve found when I put ideas on paper — or in this case the Internet — they end up manifesting in real life. With that said, I want to try something different: maybe slam poetry, fictional short stories, or screen-writing…
And that’s it! OH, and I plan to travel a ton (Holla, Tulum 🇲🇽 and Greece 🇬🇷).