2019 // year in review

I’m a sucker for tidy endings and new beginnings. Aren’t we (humans, that is) all? Let’s look back at the year and all that I did/did not do from the list of things I said I wanted to do at the beginning of the year. I think I looked at this list maybe four times maximum out of the entire year, so this will be a discovery to me as well as you.


  • With myself: Grow my confidence, self-esteem, and belief in myself. Did less complaining and seeing the bad and more appreciating, peace, gratefulness, and acceptance.

These personal growth mental health-y goal things are hard to measure, so you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one. I did a pretty good job at these! I guess part of that can be seen in how I’m even saying I did it, huh? If I were a lot less confident then I’d probably chuck this in the didn’t do section. I know I have a really long way to go here, but I’m confident the first real steps have been taken. I’ve done a good job of changing the way I talk to myself and, even when I’m not confident, pushing past that to do it anyway so I can learn and get more confident. I think the most important thing here is that I’ve made a real intentional effort to be mindful of how I think of myself. That way, I can catch it when I beat myself up too much and go, hey Max, be gentle with Max! I also started keeping a daily log of things I’m proud of myself for. I got the idea off some Reddit thread which I’ve since lost, but people were talking about how they keep a notebook and every day write something they’re grateful for/they did that made them proud/that made them laugh/things like that. I’m trying to get better at thinking positively about myself and taking pride and ownership over things I do, so in October I started writing down something I’m proud of myself for every day. It’s a good way to end my day, because I orient my brain towards looking for the good in the day. I’ve also tried to think about three things I’m grateful for on my walk home from school or when showering. I don’t do this every day but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. It feels good to be able to smile at a dog I happen to see and count that as a good thing, you know? Anyway, I’m going to continue this energy in 2020. I’m not, like, great at being happy with myself all the time but I’m doing a lot better than being unhappy with myself most of the time.

  • With my education: Finish community college strong. Successfully transfer to a 4 year I’m excited about and be doing well at the end of the year. Also, get involved at that 4 year school.

I did all these things!! I suppose not super shocking given that this is pretty much always going to be my top priority, at least until I graduate. I finished CC with a 4.0 and I even have a few friends and professors I keep in touch with! I’m at UCLA now to finish my Bachelor’s degree and now that my first quarter is done, I can say that I’m doing well. I have a 4.0 in hand (for now, at least), I met some cool people, I have a nice lil routine, and I’m excited to go back and do more and keep on learnin’ and growin’. It’s not “the best time of my life ever ever ever” but I think once I tried to take the pressure off myself to have that amazing unreal college experience everyone talks about, I was able to actually just enjoy my experience for whatever it happens to be. I also am working on getting involved in things! I’m in a few clubs and I’m about to start working as a campus tour guide when I go back from break.

  • With money and material objects: Save (at least) $5000, take care of my physical environment with cleaning and keeping it nice

I’ve done the saving and I even started investing this year (not as impressive as it sounds, I use Betterment so a robot does all the work lol). I’m lucky to have parents who are able and willing to support me financially with school/living expenses so I want to be really on top of my $$ and set myself up for a solid financial future.

Much like my goal last year of sticking to a skincare routine, I have succeeded at the cleaning goal mostly because there was nowhere to go but up. I’ve started making my bed and I only have a small pile of clothes on my chair instead of multiple huge piles all over the floor. My room is mostly in order, with everything in its place. Please do not judge me too harshly here lol. My parents aren’t very tidy at all so these are all habits I’ve had to somehow convince myself have value. Next steps are to learn more household cleaning skills and regularly vacuum, mop, etc!


  • With myself: Was mindful and intentional with my time

OK so, I’m writing this at the beginning of my second quarter at UCLA – I was really good with time management in my first quarter. Like, I wrote drafts for all my papers. ALL OF THEM. I’ve never drafted a paper before!! I’ve always just shit some words out the night the assignment is due and prayed!!!! So, I really hope I continue that no procrastinating thing. It felt good. I’m still struggling with being intentional with my time, though. There are a lot of times where I still am like “my head hurts, I need to get up early, I should go to bed now” but I just scroll through Instagram instead. What on earth! Taking this into 2020, especially as I ramp up my workload for this quarter.

  • With my health: exercise at least once a week, meatless Mondays

While at UCLA, I started going to the gym! Big big news! I am learning what a tricep and a hamstring are! Turns out they are parts of my body and verrrry important for carrying me around and whatnot. I was incentivized to go exercise more because I have had chronic headaches for 5+ years and the doctor said the stress that builds up in my neck/shoulder/back area will be helped by strengthening that area, but turns out exercising is, like, good for you? Or something like that? Going to the gym is a very recent development in my life. I’ve only been going to the gym 1-3 times a week for the past 3ish months. And, you know, it’s really not as bad as I thought it would be, doing some time on the elliptical and then lifting heavy things. I get to listen to a bunch of podcasts and feel kinda strong afterwards! I still have no idea what these “endorphins” people talk about are – am I supposed to feel them right after working out?? When do you get them??? But here’s hoping we’ll find them in 2020.

I upped my goal for eating meatless for five meatless meals a week. It got way more doable when I moved and began to do all my eating either from my own cooking or at the school dining halls as opposed to finding cheap takeout or eating whatever my carnivorous mom made. I’m saying I kind of did this because it’s a very recent change. I’m also noticing when it’s easy to do this, it gets done – like going to the school salad bar. But when it’s hard, it doesn’t really – like being home for Winter Break and having a table full of my favorite Chinese meat dishes.

  • With others: Cultivate good friendships, De-escalate and disengage w parents, Be open – to loving, connecting, being kind

These are all sort ofs. Making good friendships is a two-way street so I’m realizing when I made this goal I didn’t super set it out in the right way. There’s only so much I can do with this aim. I think I’ve done a good job of doing my part. With my parents, Lord knows there were plenty of blow up crying moments this year, but I have gone from always being in that to rarely being able to pull myself out and away. And that rare amount is still more than nothing! I’m still working on the last one. I don’t know that I’m that happy with my progress, so it’s a sort of.

  • With fun: Blog 3x a month

Sort of because I definitely didn’t hit the three times a month goal but my blog isn’t, you know, completely dead. I’m pretty happy with what I do here. Nobody reads it, but I like the photos and words I put together. It’s a good time!


  • With my health: find a therapist

I mean, I don’t know what to say, man. Health insurance is hard and tiring. Finding therapists is also hard and tiring.

  • With $ and material objects: Less shopping and reduce waste/disposable products

I did a bit of this. I don’t think it was enough. I mostly just felt guilty but did the thing anyway. I watched the Patriot Act episode on fast fashion near the end of this year and I feel really committed to doing this in 2020 with concrete goals. I also slowly learned through the course of the year that there’s not really any such thing as “ethical” consumption under late capitalism. Everlane isn’t sustainable! Neither is Reformation, really! What do those things even mean!! And as for non-clothing products which are “good”, they’re probably owned by mega corporations who care about profit and use your morality to get your segment of the market.

In regards to waste, I don’t think I tried hard enough here either. I feel like I don’t produce that much waste, but I also feel like that’s probably a lie. I should probably measure it and figure out exactly where I can make changes.

  • With fun: take a solo trip somewhere, improve my painting

Hm yeah, these are the same things I said at the beginning of 2018. I’m trying to decide if maybe they’re not the right goals to have going forward because they’re not super realistic? Or if I need more discipline in just sitting down and painting? With the solo trip, that didn’t really happen but I don’t really care about it. 2019 was a fine year in terms of travel. I think I said I wanted to travel alone because I read a bunch of articles about how empowering traveling solo is and I was ~influenced~* lol. As for improving my painting, I think I’m realizing that the mindset of getting good at painting is hindering me actually painting. I want to be good and improved already, damn it, and the fear of being bad often prevented me from actually just doing the damn painting.

2019, you were not bad to me. And I really tried to grow during you. Thanks for everything! (Except the shitshow the world was in.)


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