2016 Year in Review

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

After a disappointing end of 2015 and awaiting my annual winter rut, I came into 2016 with nonexistent expectations. However, the first half of 2016 shocked me by being arguably the best half of a year I’ve ever had. I started the year with an impromptu fireworks photography trip on New Year’s Day, and asked out a girl I met on that trip. And from then on, I was on an adventure or hanging out with friends almost every weekend. I went on roadtrips, played badminton, hiked on unforgettable trails, stayed fit, stretched my comfort zone, advanced into the next stage of my career, a new job. I was interesting, could carry conversation — people were telling me I had been everywhere. Everything was beautiful.

And then it came all crashing down, in one week. The week of my birthday. And I wasn’t a rockstar at my job anymore.

But for awhile circumstances masked the problems. I welcomed in a temporary roommate, which alleviated any loneliness for a month. My reputation as a roadtrip-conjurer carried me to more trips. Tracking Hurricane Matthew, and delving into Python, distracted me in between. The bottom, however, would fall out in November. I had lost contact with almost everyone for several months. I couldn’t carry conversations anymore; I was boring, and dates became boring. I lost my touch, my mojo, my confidence– apparently so dependent on being good at my job. And worst of all, I stopped being active, staying in bed for almost every weekend these past couple of months. It’s official. My winter rut has arrived.

As I head into 2017, I’m more uncertain than ever about my future. Having gone through a long journey to get a first half year of heaven, I am discouraged to be back at Point Zero. Not confident, not able to have fluid social interaction. I wonder what it will take to get me back to where I was earlier in the year. As a final note, I’ve lost enough of my social network that I am seriously considering moving to a different state.


What made the first half year so good…

  • Badminton. Almost every weekend! The exercise (endorphins!), and hanging out with friends, and having something to look forward to every weekend. The #1 reason why the first half of the year was so great.
  • Solo Yosemite/Death Valley trip. Single-handedly inspired me to learn more about how to explore the Sierra Nevada. And snow-covered mountains. ❤ (Take US 395 down the eastern crest of the Sierra. You won’t regret it.)
  • Utah trip. ANGEL’S LANDING OMG. And who knew going on a road trip with friends could be so fun? The hiking endorphins even surpassed the badminton endorphins…
  • Storm chasing/Rocky Mountain trip. Who could forget the tornadofest on 5/24? Who could forget Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mtn National Park, that goes deep into the Alpine Tundra? Who could forget getting altitude sickness on the first day of hiking in the park? Who could forget, watching the Warriors come back from a 3-1 deficit in the WCF, and watching it happen after settling in after a long day of chasing?
  • Warriors. The Records. The Legend. Curry. Because of them, I know what a pick-and-roll is. What posting up is. Rim protection vs. perimeter defense. And so many other things about basketball, learned all in the past year. (The heartbreak is coming, though.)
  • Changing jobs. Leveling up from QA to dev. As it should be, and as it should have been long ago — but better late than never. Taking a whole day of phone interviews the day after being bedridden all day by the flu? #BeastMode

What tarnished the first half of the year…

  • Warriors 3-1. ‘Nuff said.
  • Storm chasing failures. Missing the massive Chapman/Bennington II tornado after I had targeted the area the night before. Second guessing. Driving all around the TX panhandle, indecisive about which storm to take, and missing almost all the storms on 5/22.
  • But overall, the first half of the year was incredible. Sometimes, disappointment happens when you go out of your comfort zone and take chances and start becoming emotionally vulnerable, by putting a lot of heart into something that really gives you joy. I think that’s worth it.

What made the second half of the year so bad…

  • Falling out with people. Do you ever wonder why I am so paranoid about pissing people off? This is why. There was no fight or anything. But I did piss people off. And not just one person. Multiple people. Both in-person and online. I’m still searching for answers. Since August, I have been mostly antisocial as a result. On the positive side, I am more blunt and less worried about pissing people off — they’re going to get pissed off anyway, and I learned it’s not the end of the world. So I’ve pissed off a lot more people since then, because I stopped taking care in what I say and how I say things. It’s too tiring.
  • Antisocialness. To be honest, at first it was intentional. The above events, plus general fatigue of being around people so often, led me to take a break from interacting with people. Slowly however, that break has transformed into something more permanent that feeds into a feedback loop. (When you’re lonely, you get into a rut, and in a rut, it becomes an overwhelming effort to talk to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.)
  • Loneliness. See above. Because of me being antisocial, initially relieving, now suffocating. It’s extreme enough to be its own bullet point.
  • Job performance. I get nervous pairing with people. And I learned, I get nervous around very confident people. Nervous people don’t look like they competent. Also, new job. Yeah, I’m still working on reestablishing a positive reputation.
  • Losing confidence. It’s related to all other points above. It’s extreme enough to be its own bullet point. I know I have to rebuild it, somehow. For career. For having a chance at the dating game. For rebuilding my social network.
  • The stuff happening around me. Trump. And remember that one period when we had those police brutality incidents, a terrorist attack and a coup in Europe, and the Orlando shooting? Just an overall negative backdrop all around.

What helped me in the second half of the year…

  • Hurricane Matthew. The first red-meat Atlantic hurricane since 2010? Subscribe to more. (Not a big fan of the destruction it’s caused, but tracking these things is a huge adrenaline rush)
  • Python. I plotted my first model images with Python libraries! I made the graphics I’ve been going on various websites to see since high school. Also, the expertise I developed in Python gave me a niche role in my new job.
  • Temp roommate. I learned cooking with another person is a lot more fun than cooking by myself.
  • Seattle trip. I didn’t realize how much I liked Seattle until I went there. Lots of public art. Lots of forests. The scenes of the Olympic Mountains are as varied as the range is vast.
  • New York trip. The concrete jungle, lit at night, never ceases to amaze me. The one weekend in Nov-Dec that I did not spend the entirety of on a bed.
  • A comment about my photography. A friend who shall remained unnamed complimented my photography one evening. I haven’t forgotten it. Because of that conversation, I am aiming to be more serious about photography now.

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