2017, the belated summary of a bipolar year

If you asked the average avocado-loving millennial about 2017, what would they say? After all, the buzzwords floating around the news these days — Trump, hurricanes, shootings, Nazis, wildfires, net neutrality, and sexual harassment allegations — do not suggest a positive reply. 2017 challenged the nation on a collective level. Personally, 2017 was a banner year for me, full of unforgettable moments. But certainly challenged me as well, rocking me to the core.

The story of my 2017 begins in late 2016. I had just lost my social network and support system, and I was pretty depressed. I told myself, I was going to fix this in 2017. In my college years I formulated this idea that if I kept myself busy, I could stave off depression.  Then later on I had this other idea that if I kept myself busy, I would be able to share my experiences with people and gain new friends. So I planned to kick butt in 2017 with “no zero weekends“.

That worked well for much of the year; nature practically handed me my goal on a silver platter. Atmospheric rivers lashed California for two whole months, which yielded gorgeous Sierra snow, a fire-fall, and a superbloom. In April I witnessed a massive tornado from close range, weeks after immersing myself in a dust storm. In June I went to Yosemite to see a rainbow; nature sent me a snowstorm. I would get shots of that rainbow anyway two months later… on a trip to photograph lightning. I would end up getting that lightning anyway in my own backyard just weeks later. Somewhere in there, a total solar eclipse happened. 2017 brought me experiences many people never get in a lifetime.

Then there was Python. I lost track but there may have been months on end I spent every evening after work coding some more. I created satellite loops, radar loops, tornado clustering algorithms, a function to load years of Storm Events data, a function to stitch together tiled images from a scrollable satellite image website. It was a high for me to get these things to work, even if that didn’t happen until 2 AM. Best of all, I got to use those tools for an unexpectedly violent 2017 hurricane season.

So overall the year was good for me. And the first 3/4 of the year was incredible. I learned a lot, I experienced a lot, I was getting attention on social media finally! For all that I am grateful for what 2017 gave me. But towards the end of the year, the thrill of adrenaline-rushed scenes wore off, as did that of Twitter likes. Nature stopped giving her handouts to me (and in fact a drought is redeveloping in California as I type). A relative passed away, causing grief within my family. My regrets in 2017, however, are not associated with the things that happened. They were about what didn’t happen. I neglected my career. I became antisocial, as many of my trips were made solo and Python took up the rest of my time. My love life? Forget about it.

And then the unthinkable happened. I developed a crush on a coworker.

Now normally that’s not worthy of writing on a year-end summary, but I hadn’t had a crush in a year and a half. So I was completely caught off guard. When I tried to get to know her, I realized what my neglect of real-life had done*. Nobody really cares about your adventures with eclipses or tornadoes. Nobody cares about your code and definitely not about your twitter following. I was certifiably boring, not because I necessarily lived a boring life, but because I couldn’t relate to people my age. My antisocial period magnified this many-fold.

In the end, my depression came back with a vengeance. Everything I believe about my “no zero weekends” came crashing down. I was happy, then I wasn’t again. I had amazing life experiences… but so what? I was all wrong, and months of minimal social interaction left my confidence shot. Maybe I really do want to have some kind of love life, but I’m far from being able to find one. To combat all this, I started reading Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. I’ve learned to be more conscious of my decisions and desires, and to trust my own judgment more. This, recapturing the grit of “real-life”, and taking steps to put myself in a realistic position to act on my next love interest — those are goals I intend to work on for 2018**.

2017, the concise highlights:

  • Seeing breathtaking natural phenomena and scenery
  • Python!… and actually getting real results from my passion projects
  • Hundreds of new followers on IG and Twitter
  • Negativity on the news w/ Trump
  • My first crush in a very long time
  • Relative passing away
  • To that point, mental health issues reared its ugly head a few times
  • Six Pillars of Self-Esteem/self-awareness movement

… and a few other notable points:

  • Meeting friends IRL whom I used to only know on Twitter
  • Playing ping-pong on Friday nights
  • I own everything Apple now! (And their extraordinary ecosystem)
  • Self-studying atmospheric dynamics from the Holton textbook

If you got to this point of the post, kudos. Footnotes:

* Okay here’s how it went down: I actual never talked to her about my experiences. But in what context would that conversation topic even come up? That’s the problem with not relating to my peers, most of whom can related to Netflix shows and Friday night get-togethers a little better than my tornado obsession.

** I may write another post for this. Actually, because I’m like three weeks late for this post, I can certifiably say I am completely failing on this goal and I yet to have a game plan at all to implement this. To be continued…

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