2018 resolutions (more like twenty-late-teen amirite)

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I know it’s, like, more than a month too late for New Year’s resolutions, but I was too mentally (and socially) busy around New Year’s to really reflect on what changes I’d like to effect in my life in 2018.

But lately I’ve been I’ve been losing sleep, dreaming about the things that GIVE ME ANXIETY thinking about what I want to focus my (limited) energy on over the next few months.

Here are some of them.

———

Finding a new damn job. I am very, very, very unhappy at work and have been for the past two years. (Literally since my first day, when I had to stand through an HOUR-LONG meeting where EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the company gave a status update, which is NOT HOW STANDUPS ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK!!!)

I think I’ve been able to justify staying for such a long time because I’ve had it worse before. Back in 2013 I was working for This Crazy Bitch* who made me so miserable I would take my lunch breaks at a nearby dog park and just sit there and cry and then go back to work. But having a paycheck that’s 347% larger (I used to make less than minimum wage**) doesn’t make up for the fact that I’m extremely bored with the work I do, I don’t feel like I’m learning, I don’t respect most of the company’s leadership (there is waaay too much of a focus on ~*optics*~), I expect this company to fall apart (the brain drain is happening, plus when a company trying to secure funding starts changing which metrics they measure success by… u kno they’re not hitting goals), and I am making at least $15k less than market rate.

*I don’t use the word bitch (with a negative connotation) lightly, but listen… she was a crazy bitch. Once, one of our unpaid interns (yep…) didn’t show up for work. The next day, she came in and apologized because she had been out the previous day getting a restraining order against her physically abusive boyfriend and would have to leave early to speak with the police, and my boss’s reaction was to 1) scoff at my coworker who suggested that our next partner charity should be a domestic violence prevention/recovery organization, despite the fact that our company was supposed to be all about Empowering Women™, 2) utter the actual words, “how dare she” and “that was so inappropriate” and “I’m going to let her go” after the intern told her story and left work crying, and 3) claim that our intern had just cost the company 45 minutes of lost work (15 minutes for each of the 3 of us) by telling us her “sob story.” One day, I should compile all of this woman’s behavior into a single blog post, because she was unbelievable. I hope she spends the rest of her life walking into face-level cobwebs.

**Legally, I was a contractor, which is why I could be paid so little. Of course, my boss took this to mean that not only were sick days unpaid, but so were makeup and overtime hours. #ethical

Anyway, I’ve started taking steps to address this (so! many! emails! and phone calls! so much pacing and stress sweating!), so hopefully this will no longer be a problem in a month or two.

Using the library more. I’ve been spending a little too much on ebooks that I’m not sure I’m going to like, mostly because of Goodreads’ sales alert emails. I would much rather borrow books that I probably won’t read more than once, and then pay when I want to support specific authors. I recently rediscovered the library via Overdrive, and since SFPL’s ebook selection is quite extensive, I should be able to use the library for most of my reading this year.

(From what I know, it’s more effective to support an author by purchasing a new book than by borrowing it from the library, but I’ve decided that I don’t need to feel guilty about this, because using the library is not inherently immoral.)

Not checking my net worth so often. I have a bad habit of checking my financial spreadsheets multiple times every night, which doesn’t help me save or earn more money, and which has the unfortunate side effect of making me too anxious to sleep. Checking so often doesn’t even help me plan for the future; I could easily make good decisions even if I only checked once a month, or even less often, now that I’ve established an emergency fund and an automated savings plan.

Luckily, with the market correction that seems to be happening, I’m going to be less enthused about meticulously tracking my net worth anyway, and since I’m moving out soon (and moving in with my partner(!!!)), I’m not going to be saving quite as much for the next couple months as we furnish our apartment.

(Plus my mom is hoping to retire soon, and my brother and I will be supporting her in retirement, plus we’re paying off the auto loan for her car from last year. If I think too hard about how much less I’m going to be saving, I just get kind of paralyzed, so… best not to think about it and just keep making incremental progress.)

Doing more creative activities. Maybe this means blogging or writing more, maybe it means knitting or sewing or finally getting into photography. I don’t know exactly what creative activities I want to partake in, but I know I haven’t indulged in my creative side for far too long, and it’s kind of making my soul shrivel up.

I recently started knitting this crop top, and I’ve already had to unravel it 7 times, but whereas in the past I think I would’ve been frustrated by having to take two steps forward, one step back, now it just feels kind of meditative. Plus I’m having fun knitting in the round for the first time and trying to read a knitting pattern that’s more complex than a 1×1 ribbed scarf. I guess the process feels just as important as the destination, especially since I haven’t done much of anything creative in… 2+ years. (Again, I think this timeline ties back to when I started my current job.)

One thing I’m particularly excited about is that my partner and I both want to purchase and learn how to use a decent digital camera after we move in together, and I want to keep a blank wall in the apartment where I can take outfit photos. (I used a little pink point-and-shoot from 2008-2014 or so, but it’s since crapped out on me and I’ve been making do with my iPhone camera.)

Practicing better sleep hygiene. This is another item that I think started being a problem around the time I started my current job. Anxiety makes it difficult for me to sleep, and lack of sleep makes me more anxious. I used to be able to exercise, shower, do a looong skincare routine, and then fall asleep in 20-30 minutes.

Now?

One, I haven’t been exercising at all, because exercising makes me AMPED at bedtime. This didn’t happen before! Exercising used to make me sleepy! I don’t know what happened!

Two, I put off showering until right before bed, because I can’t bring myself to even enter the bathroom until the last minute. Sometimes I put off showering until the morning, which makes me feel gross (and usually too cold) when I go to sleep and rushed when I wake up.

Three, I’ve stopped following my skincare routine. I still remove my makeup with a wipe at the end of the day, but sometimes I stay up so late I don’t even bother washing my face, which means I don’t moisturize either. It is Real Bad™, I am not proud of it, and it is not how I should be treating my body.

And four, even if I shower early and do a long and slow skincare routine with no screens before bed, even if I try to listen to a sleep podcast or meditate or do breathing exercises – whatever it is, I end up lying in bed for two hours completely unable to fall asleep, no matter how physically tired I am.

Something is DEFINITELY wrong, and, well, yes, I should probably see a therapist, but I also know the root cause is… my job.

(Actually I’ve been sleeping a little better lately, now that I’ve started sending my resume out and having initial phone calls with a few companies. The other day I even started trying the SCINIC Honey All in One Ampoule that I bought in December, which means I’m actually doing things for my skin again. A good omen!)

I know I can’t completely fix my sleep patterns until I remove the source of my anxiety (by getting a new job), but until then I can at least try to drag myself into the bathroom before 11:30PM and take a fucking shower every night. It’ll certainly feel better than staring at my money spreadsheets on my laptop until my eyes glaze over.

Eating less meat. As a Chinese-American who loves being Chinese-American and eating Chinese-American food, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to commit to being completely vegan or vegetarian. But what I can do is commit to eating less meat, or at the very least, less red meat.

Frankly, I think people are supposed to eat animals. We evolved to be omnivores; that’s why our teeth look the way they do. But eating animals is pretty damn bad for the environment, and I feel morally obligated to lessen my environmental footprint where I can.

For example, we get free lunch at work 2-3 days a week. I’ve been making an effort to choose vegetarian or vegan options for my entrees, and a while ago, I asked my office manager to put me on the list of vegans for when we get catering. This means I’m increasing the vegan headcount in the office, which means our catering companies have to adapt to vegan customers.

On a personal level, I’d like to make sure I at least look at the vegetarian options when I go to restaurants, and if I ever see tempeh on a menu, I’d like to try it. (I had sambal goreng tempeh through a work lunch a few weeks ago, and I thought it was really, really gross. It was my first time eating tempeh and I foolishly assumed it would be similar to tofu, but it is very much not like tofu despite also being made from soybeans. From what I’ve read, it seems like tempeh is often prepared fried, but the tempeh in my dish was most definitely not fried, so I don’t think it was a good example of what tempeh should taste like.)

Making the most of my MoviePass. I’m currently paying $9.95 a month for MoviePass, which is WAY cheaper than a single ticket at, like, any major theater in San Francisco, so you’d think I’d be getting my money’s worth every month, but no. I didn’t watch anything in January, which means I need to double up in February.

I think the time of my life when I watched the most movies in theaters was 2012-2013 or so, when my friend Spenser and I were both back home from college and in desperate need of distraction from our Monday to Friday lives. We probably watched one or two movies a month, if not more, and I LOVED it.

(Spenser and I both also spent a lot of time watching movies and TV shows in college because of the ol’ college depresh. It’s always good to have a friend who Just Gets It™.)

Anyway, these days I’m generally happier, but I also watch fewer movies. If it turns out MoviePass isn’t worth it for me after… maybe a year, then I’ll cancel it. Until then, I’m going to try to watch at least one movie a month. (First up: Jumanji: Into the Jungle. Three words: Karen Gillan’s legs.)

Continuing to spend 5 minutes a day on DuoLingo’s Mandarin course. I downloaded DuoLingo on a whim sometime in December, soon after they released their Mandarin offering. I was hoping to practice and review the 3 years of Mandarin I took in high school, and to make sure I don’t completely forget how Chinese grammar works. (I grew up speaking broken Cantonese at home, and Mandarin is similar enough that my understanding is transferrable.)

I can’t imagine the app is very useful for learning Mandarin unless you already speak some Mandarin or Cantonese, in which case it’s really for practicing, not learning, and it’s basically useless for learning how to write Chinese because it just teaches you how to recognize characters without recalling them. (Plus it only uses simplified characters, which IMO are somewhat easier to write but much harder to read than traditional characters because the components of each character don’t make sense after they’ve been simplified.)

However! It’s helping me remember a lot of vocabulary and grammatical constructions that I once knew very well, and while the lack of oral exercises means I won’t be improving my speaking ability, I think it’s helping me with listening and understanding. Also, I really like that’s it’s gamified and only requires a small commitment each day. I’m currently on an 86-day streak. 🔥

Buying less clothing and makeup, and trying to get into slow/ethical fashion. I own too many things, and I think I’d feel much more satisfied with myself if I tried to

  • minimize the cost-per-wear of the things I already own
  • make purchasing decisions based not only on their financial impact (on myself) but also their environmental impact (on the world)
  • actually use my makeup products until they’re empty

I fully expect to make exceptions for costumes, events, and celebrations, since those situations are special occasions, but I really don’t need any more everyday clothes, nor do I need any makeup other than replacement items.

I already own at least 10 crop tops, and I have no need for an 11th one. Even if, like, 5 of them suddenly became unwearable, I still wouldn’t need to buy a new crop top, because who needs this many crop tops?!

So I’ve decided that if I want another crop top, I’ll have to make it myself. That’s why I’m currently working on knitting this crop top (pattern by Emily Manasc), as I mentioned earlier in this post. The same goes for scrunchies – I don’t need a scrunchie, so I won’t buy one, but I want one to wear for fun, and I know they’re easy to sew. So if I want to own a scrunchie… I’m going to have to make it myself. Slow fashion, indeed.

I’d also like to start buying from ethical fashion brands (eventually, when I feel like I’ve stuck with my self-imposed shopping ban for long enough). Since ethical fashion tends to be more expensive, I think I’ll be forced to more carefully evaluate what’s worth spending my money on.

(I could also get back into buying secondhand, but that requires more time and effort. I’ll see how I feel about all this in a couple months.)

As for makeup, after a cursory pass through my makeup bags, I’ve counted at least 23 lipsticks, not including tinted lip balms and lip crayons, and 7 of those are metallic liquid lipsticks.

There’s no way I can use them all up before they expire, but I can sure as hell make myself wait until I’ve used up or thrown out 2 old products before I purchase 1 new one. (I’m sure some of them will become unusable over the course of this year, especially some of my older liquid lipsticks, so there’ll be some natural downsizing anyway.)

Basically, having a lot of stuff (and a lot of options) makes me feel like I’m keeping an inefficient wardrobe/vanity, and I’d like to optimize my whole damn life.

———

I consciously left “exercising more” off this list because, well, it’s one of those things I can’t fit into my life unless everything else is in place. I don’t have the discipline to exercise unless I’m already pretty happy to start with, and yes, I know exercise is supposed to help with happiness, but frankly I’ve tried exercising despite being unhappy, and all it does is temporarily boost my mood but not fix the actual problem.

(The actual problem is, of course, my job.)

I’m going to go spend some time working on tree and graph problems now. Hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll be so desensitized* to technical interviews that I won’t get nervous trying to convince a Google** recruiter that I’m worth hiring.

*It happens. It happened to me last time I looked for a job. I’d already gone through an interview so brutal that I realized nothing could possibly make me feel worse about myself as a software engineer. And so I learned helplessness, and it set me free. In comparison, my other interviews after that were like a tap on the shoulder instead of a punch in the jaw.

**I’m not actually applying there, but I’m so nervous about some of the Large Non-FAANG Tech Companies I’m applying to that I might as well be.

Here’s to a new week.

One Reply to “2018 resolutions (more like twenty-late-teen amirite)”

  1. I’m so happy that you feel like you can be creative again! You’re so talented and you have always been an inspiration to me creatively even if you’ve been more focused on your career for the past few years (understandably so). I’ve also been in a major creative rut for a significant amount of time so I know how you feel. I think you should just dabble in everything and see what sticks. Also, it doesn’t have to be something Important™…it can be something as simple as just mixing colors on a canvas or writing Jack-Kerouac-on-x-games-mode journal entries.

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