Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday!! I’m writing from my hometown in upstate New York where I’m spending 2 weeks with my family, doing nothing but relaxing, running, eating lots of chocolate, movie nights…we haven’t been together since last Christmas and I am loving every minute so far!
My time at home has given me time to reflect about this past year. Every year of my 20s have been filled with a lot of changes and growth, but I think 2019 was one of my most happy, stable years so far. Maybe it’s because I’ve officially entered my “late 20s,” that I’m reaching a point of loving myself fully, which has led to happiness in other parts of my life as well…but of course it took a lot of work to reach this point this past year.
Writing has always helped me process, so I’d like to use this post to reflect on four aspects of my life: work, travel, dating, and running.
One of the biggest reasons to my overall happy year was starting my new job. It was a very emotional, difficult career change from crunching numbers as an actuary to now doing business strategy at a fin-tech company (totally opposite ends of the spectrum). My job is more high-stress with travel to the east coast every month…it’s not perfect, but I truly love my day-to-day work and wouldn’t trade it for anything right now. I’m using a whole different inter-personal side of me that has made me a stronger businesswoman and also a better friend/daughter/sister/partner…
At my old job, I use to just see work as work and would consciously disengage from my unhappiness, but it really hit me this year that finding satisfaction at work truly translates to happiness in other parts of your life as well.
I never thought I would be at this point of loving what I do…it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely in the right direction compared to my old career. I wish I could tell past Charlotte that it’s okay to take a risk and leave my unhappy situation; I wish I could tell myself that everything was going to be alright. At this point, I’ll never settle for an unfulfilling job ever again.
Naturally, a new challenge I’m facing is finding balance, now being so invested in my job. I do find myself checking my email past working hours and having trouble “disengaging” like before, especially as I get more responsibility in my role. That will be a focus next year.
As this blog knows, solo travel has been a big theme over here the past few years. In 2019, I took 3 solo trips: 1) Philippines – one of my favorite solo trips where I fell in love with the beauty and modest lifestyle of this underrated backpacker’s country – plus I learned to ride a motorbike! 2) Nicaragua – shorter trip where I learned how to surf, a newfound love of mine. 3) Kenya – A humbling experience that taught me that I am not invisible as a female solo traveler.
Through all my travels, my heart grew an undeniable urge to travel more than two-weeks at a time, whether that meant dropping everything and taking a gap year or making a big lifestyle change to incorporate travel into my life long-term. As much as I long to reach these travel goals, it’s just as conflicting to think about leaving my wonderful life in SF – I’ve worked hard to get to a happy point and thinking about such a big change is daunting.
I don’t think 2020 will be the year for this big change, but I do want to continue exploring these thoughts and learning from people who live an “alternative lifestyles” (my kava friends are a great source), and most importantly, be present in my current life while I’m figuring this out all. I think this will be one of those things where I’ll just wake up and know, like every other big change in my life.
One key change I’d like to make next year is traveling more with loved ones and traveling less alone. My first few solo trips, I was obsessed with making friends, but as time went on after these trips, I found that most people met on the backpacker’s trail ended up just being instagram friends. This past year, I was definitely less social and found that my excitement and personal growth on solo trips started to fade, and I grew a longing to share my experiences with someone…
In terms of what’s to come in 2020: I want to refocus my traveling in Asia. I think my Asian background makes me more appreciative of the culture/scenery/food in East/SE Asia. Also now that Joe is in my life, we have a huge bucket list of places to travel together. 🙂
Since I tend to overshare anyways on this blog, let’s talk about my love life! Looking back, I experienced the most growth in this part of my life in 2019.
Joe and I met in the fall, and we were crazy about each other pretty quickly. Before that, I was single for 5 years. I dated guys in NYC and SF, but nothing long-lasting. Every time I found someone I liked, my anxiety would bubble up, and before I knew it I couldn’t handle it and would cut things off to feel secure again single.
Earlier this year, I was dating a guy and was really into him, but he kept me at arms length while giving me mixed signals. It caused me a lot of stress and anxiety to the point where I got several periods in one month (which is NOT normal for any woman). That was a wake up call since health is most important, and I knew I needed to make a change: a change in my perception of relationships, in my standards, and in loving myself.
I knew I needed to work towards heeling past wounds and full self-love. Therapy was involved as well as my spiritual healing retreat over the summer which slowly moved me towards my goal of reaching security in myself and ultimately in relationships.
The turning point for me was reading Attached, a book that seriously changed my life and reshaped my view of relationships. It boils down human beings into three attachment types: secure, anxious and avoidant. I am a textbook-definition anxious attachment type, and this book gave me awareness and perspective I needed to reshape my standards for a partner. I honestly cannot recommend the book enough.
By the time fall came around, I was actually really happy with my life and with being single. I had a fun summer and just came back from Nicaragua…and then I met Joe. Joe is a loving, adventurous, and secure partner. Our time together has been some of the happiest few months of my life, and I’ve gotten zero anxiety with him.
I am so grateful we met when we did, at a point when I was finally secure with myself and ready to share my life with someone. He is everything I am looking for, and more. Probably the #1 thing I am looking forward to in 2020 is continuing this new chapter together. ❤
Lastly, I’m truly grateful for the long stretch of time that I was single in my 20s. I don’t think being single gets enough credit – it really toughens you up and teaches you how to be your own plug: there’s no one to share rent with, no one to talk to everyday…I’ll always treasure the days of sitting on the rooftop of my 1-bedroom apartment in Astoria, sipping a beer, feeling lost yet free.
Since this is a running blog, let’s wrap this up by talking about my running journey this year. 🙂
My year started off strong training and running the Eugene Marathon. As my 7th marathon, I felt like Eugene was business-as-usual and less exciting than my first few marathons. After Eugene, I dropped off running significantly, only logging a few miles per week for the rest of the year.
On one hand, I feel a bit guilty that my heart is not as into running as before. But on the other hand, I realized that I tend to run less when other parts of my life are doing well (flashback to my NYC days when I was pretty unhappy and running 3 marathons a year). Now that I’ve reached a point of being content with my life in SF, I do still want to keep a strong baseline fitness level, but I’ve accepted that running won’t be the center of my life like before.
I’ve always believed that running will always be there for you. Running has never been about the medal or vanity for me, but about the mental break, healing and growth.
Well I’ve written 1500 words so it’s time to go! I truly appreciate you all for following along my stream-of-conscious blog this year. This blog has always been my outlet to reflect and move forward. Happy New Year! 🙂