Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year in Review: 2014

Looks like we made it through another year.

Janus
(src)

In 2014, I finished high school, had the longest summer ever, and began college. Because of that life jump, from high school to college, I feel a greater sense of disconnect than usual from the me who started the year.

In January my dream college was MIT; Ubermadchen was still set in the Age of Metternich; I didn't have my driver's license; and I was still playing euphonium. But then, by then I had already begun identifying with Augustus Caesar and planning UM and dreaming of the future, so perhaps I have not changed all that much.

I've become more comfortable this year with the idea that I am a self-centered, arrogant, ambitious person. Probably because college has expanded my horizons.

In terms of writing, 2014 was the year of Ubermadchen. I have worked on very little besides this story of how five girls illegally trained in magic go cavorting across Europe following the Torch of Prometheus and creating their futures. Work went amazingly well during the summer and then output crashed once college started, but I plan to build it into my schedule more regularly for 2015.

I have, however, also begun throwing more ideas together for the story Matt and the Thundergods. This one will require a lot of research and a lot of heavy duty worldbuilding. Given the rate at which UM is going, I don't know when I'll be ready to start writing this one, but I think it will be the next project unless I decide to take some time off novel-writing to do short stories after UM.

On the flip side of writing, here is what I enjoyed reading:


Going meta for a bit: I think that the writing on this blog has shifted through this year. Everything comes back to the life change of starting college: most of my posts for the past few months have been more about my personal experiences and thoughts than about writing, though most posts here have always had the preface "self-centered post ahead" (e.g. this one).

Here are what I think are my best posts this year:

Additionally, I wrote a lot of posts that started to talk about an idea and then didn't quite follow through. Some topics on which I will probably "think out loud" here in 2015 are:
  • girls and STEM
  • the interconnectedness of global issues
  • race in the US/the "model minority" stereotype
  • my efforts at becoming a substantial contributor to the universe
  • technology and inequality
  • looking back on high school
  • looking forward to the future

It's the time of year when people make big plans and think about what is to come, and I have in fact been thinking a lot about winter quarter, the rest of freshman year, the summer after freshman year (oh, man, have I been thinking about what I'm going to do this summer), the rest of college, graduate school, my career, and so on. Thinking about the future is what I've been doing for most of today, making a new calendar and logbook and mindmapping the ways in which I want to help myself become who I want to be in the future.

Looking backwards to the year that is ending is useful, however.* It was a pretty good year: writing most of the code for robotics, playing in the district honor band (even if not as principal euphonium), getting into Stanford, deciding to go to Stanford, closing out high school on a strong note as valedictorian, writing a lot over the summer, adjusting to college reasonably well and finding good friends there, confirming that I want to work as a civil engineer and leverage systems to do good in the world.

Looking back also helps identify things to do better: I dropped a lot of good habits and so will make better use of my logbook this year. I've had to face up to my own vast ignorance and am striving to fix that. It is a constant struggle against my natural indolence and incompetence to become someone useful--but I'm going to do it. I'm going to be better in 2015 than I was in 2014.

Here's hoping that next year's version of this post utterly outclasses this one. Meliora!**

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*Watch this video:

4 Words That Will Change Your Business This Year - Jeff Walker

**Not my university's motto, but I've co-opted it as my own.

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For fun, here's my 2014 playlist:
  • Team - Lorde
  • Sweater Weather - the Neighborhood
  • Thrift Shop - Macklemore (yes, really)
  • Sit Back - Mouse Outfit ft. Truthos Mufasa
  • All of Me - John Legend
  • Let It Die - Starset
  • Silhouettes - Swimming with Dolphins
  • Papaoutai - Stromae
  • Kingdom - the Good Natured
  • All Right Now - LSJUMB
  • Hell - LSJUMB
  • American Trash - InnerPartySystem
  • Lost Stars - Faded Paper Figures
 Happy New Year!

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