This year, I made a big transition. I graduated from university and started my first full-time job as a software engineer in San Francisco. It was not the greatest of years but certainly one that I can learn a lot from. I picked up new hobbies, struggled with my insecurities (loneliness, not knowing enough) and settled into a “home.”
I was more honest to myself. I repeatedly compared myself to others but acknowledged areas of my life which need work. I also didn’t have clarity in my priorities. While working on this post, I realized I’ve learned about myself more than I had thought. Here’s a few snapshots of my year.
I overloaded for the first time at Bucknell. I cared less about meaningless friendships and tried to spend more time with people I loved. I turned 21 and didn’t give a crap. I had my “first” drink at Bull Run Tap House. I dabbled in flat design. I wrote thank you notes and had many goodbye meals. I went to Myrtle Beach (so classic) for Senior Week.
My family visited the US for the first time and I got to show them around Lewisburg and a handful of cities on the East Coast. It made me really proud. It was our first trip together after more than five years. They were so easygoing - definitely few of my favorite travel partners. We had lots of Indian food and they noticed how I couldn’t take the spice anymore. We did a helicopter tour of lower Manhattan on my sister’s birthday.
I returned to India for two months. I hadn’t experienced an Indian summer for four years and my first week there was brutal. I visited my relatives in Darjeeling and Siliguri and traveled to Pelling, Sikkim. I ate the best momos of my life with my favorite cousins. I stayed in New Delhi for a few days and rekindled high school friendships. I visited two of my teachers and one of them cried after I left her place. So wholesome. I can never thank them enough for their support. I also learned how to drive and got my driver’s license in India.
Moving to San Francisco
I started a new job. I sold my soul to capitalism and to the Bay Area tech company perks. Sometimes, I cracked one too many jokes. I have supportive mentors and they want to see me grow. The people that I work with are considerate and polite. I enjoy the freedom that comes with this job, and for the time being, there’s no other company that I’d rather be at.
I lived for a month in the beautiful Sunset district of San Francisco. My place was an hour away from work and the commute allowed me to listen to audiobooks. My landlady was quite inconsiderate and she took away the WiFi midway through the month. Who does that?
In September, I moved to the Mission district with my friend Taylor. I continued to track my expenses and it was harder than ever to stay under budget. I love how dynamic yet cozy this part of the city is. I wasted time waiting for Muni buses, so now I bike to work. We furnished our place and I am especially happy about our living room. We hosted couchsurfers from over ten countries and I was reminded that people are nice by default. We had a blast for a friensgiving dinner and it’s a tradition I want to keep.
I made a hanging desk from scratch. It’s something I had wanted to do since I moved to SF. I picked up new skills throughout this project and met cool, creative people at an “anarchist hackerspace” called Noisebridge. I plan to do more woodworking projects next year.
Cooking - In senior year, as much as my roommates and I said we’d cook together, we never did. In San Francisco, I became a better cook and tried recipes through HelloFresh and exotic cookbooks.
Reading - I think well-read people are also well-spoken and generally have a magnetic personality. I am close to finishing my goal of reading 15 books this year. My favorites have to be Educated, Becoming and The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Volunteering - I applied to volunteer at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 but did not get in 😔. I was quite hopeful and this rejection hurt. I won’t stop applying until I get in. As I write this, I am thinking whether I should apply for the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. Now anything remotely related to China reminds of this video.
Dental Hygiene - After years of negligence, I had to get my teeth deep-cleaned. It was scary and I had no idea what to expect, but I am glad to over with it. SF dental clinics are bougie and they let you pick a TV show to watch as they clean your teeth. Cray!
Reflection - I created this website and published two blog posts which gave me immense satisfaction. I got inspired by a friend and started journaling a few lines everyday in a five-year memory book. I have forgotten moments I wouldn’t have wanted to. I want to change this and observe my growth in my own words.
Unicycling - I picked up unicycling, and earlier this month, I free-mounted my unicycle for the first time. It’s addicting and I practice on weekends and whenever I can find time after work.
Research - I worked on a project to convert math - as we write it in email or text - to LaTeX. The goal was to 1) enable pre-college teachers to author math textbooks and 2) create semantic, accessible markup so that screen readers can read the LaTeX. I made significant progress at university but haven’t found the time or motivation to continue since I started working.
Health - Prior to moving, I had told myself that I’d find a way to regularly play (or even compete in) Table Tennis. Currently, I only occasionally play T.T. with a friend on Fridays. It’s still refreshing but I need more. My acne is getting better but my posture is upright only half of the time.
Sometimes, I meditated and although my life didn’t turn upside down, I had a calmer mind when compared to the weeks when I didn’t meditate. I kept things to myself and didn’t open up to people, which is why my relationships suffered.
People and Places - Outside of work, I haven’t met as many new people I would have liked to. There were many days during which I stayed indoors. I was afraid of awkward silences and avoided one-on-ones with people I hadn’t enjoyed talking to previously. I became more reserved in smaller groups.