2023: This is my becoming
Dec 31, 2023

2023: This is my becoming

In 2023, I learned that my future is no longer a distant sight: I am an individual seeking his place in the world. I must not gaze at it, but build it now.

Health and Fitness

I nurtured a strong interest in my own physical wellbeing. I have a story to share that changed my perspective on how important it is to build strength through exercise and nutrition.

My grandparents aren’t well at the moment. I will keep many details to myself, but their health situation is one that my family is working through.

It was sometime in August or September that I was called upon to take care of them because of a string of illnesses in the family. I remember it like it was yesterday: I was helping my grandpa, who suffers a degenerative disease, to sit down and have breakfast. I cooked them breakfast with lots of love.

As he was sitting down, he lost his center of gravity and fell back, hitting his head against a drawer behind him. I tried to grab him as he fell, but I couldn’t react fast enough. In a daze, he stared at me–eyes wide-open like I’d never seen. In the panic of the situation, I grabbed him with all my strength to pick him back up.

I couldn’t. I could not stand him up. I used all my available strength. I anchored myself with the floor and pulled with all I had. He could not get up, and kept staring in shock and panic. In a time of need, my body was not up to task.

My grandmother eventually called my neighbor, a stronger man, to come in and help stand him up. And all I could think about was shame. A strong feeling of inadequacy. I think it all made sense that day. I want to be able to serve others in need. I want to be able to help my loved ones. Since then, I’ve made it a core priority to exercise and fix my daily nutrition to gain strength and energy.

I don’t want to be in a situation where I can’t help again.

What went well?

  • Finding a raison d’être for fitness. In 2023, I discovered my intrinsic motivation to focus on fitness and health.
  • Starting a fitness regimen. Began a bodyweight fitness routine that is showing results.
  • Understanding the importance of self-control to wellness. I’ve been on dopamine detoxes this year, and I’ve seen the wonders it does to my thinking. I feel clearer when I’m off my phone, social media and other super stimuli.
  • Discovering myself. I’ve taken care of my mental and emotional health, and feeling better than ever.

What didn’t go so well?

  • Nutrition. My nutrition has been a long-standing problem for years now. I don’t eat enough, and it’s been a shadow haunting me for years. Many have a problem with eating too much, I have a problem with eating too little. It’s an insecurity I will tame in 2024.
  • Screen time. My dependence on screen time. Although great strides have been made (I’ve zapped my YouTube addiction!), there is progress to be done.

What will you focus on next year?

  • Maintaining and expanding my resolve. Continuing and solidifying an exercise routine. Doubling down on my intrinsic motivation for exercise. Maintaining the emotion of discipline and resolve.
  • Taking it easy. On another note, perhaps being less hard on myself about where my flaws are. I compare myself with others on the internet, it’s not a good habit to have

Personal life and family

In 2023, I nurtured my relationship with my family and made new friends. I discovered the mere joy of positive relationships with people I can trust. I figured the foundation of how intimate relationships are best in this new stage of my life.

Many lessons arrived this year. Some are too personal to share, but I can write a couple blurbs about them.

In 2023, I valued my independence. My individual self comes first before any other externality (be it people, opinions or relationships). If I notice one of these factors taking precedence over my own emotions, wellness or responsibilities, something is amiss in my life and I need to make changes. This heuristic taught me to break deeply-ingrained patterns of codependence, but there’s lots of work to be done in this respect.

In 2023, I valued my friendships. I erased old stigmas and dove head in to discover new people. I made new friends and nurtured existing close relationships. Many of these new friendships were unexpected and thrilling. I’ve lost this fear of interacting with those I considered different to me, and that’s supremely valuable. But the most important ones were those who stayed, even during the difficult and trying times. Those I cherish the most.

In 2023, I valued my adulthood. Graduating from school, traveling and living on my own has given me a desperately-needed shock therapy with regards to adulthood. As I stated earlier in this review, this year the biggest lesson was understanding that my life is my responsibility. I’ve graduated and can do anything I want. Facing this terrifying prospect with strength has been an experience that I deeply value.

In 2023, I valued my courage. This year I did many things that terrified me. Curiously enough, there hasn’t been a single situation in which I thought my fears were warranted. I distinctly remember a time a couple months ago where I built up the courage, arrived at the place, and could only laugh to myself because of how ridiculous my anxiety seemed in hindsight.

In 2023, I upgraded my views on romantic relationships. All I feel comfortable saying online is that I strongly value my independence as an integral part of any relationship I partake in. I’ve discovered my groove with a more adult dating style. I’ve become more selective with who I spend my time with. I’ve discovered how two individuals in a relationship can and should have different lives, and don’t need to become hopelessly intertwined.

“The point is, Johnny, you get to say. You get to define the terms of your life. You get to negotiate and articulate the complexities and contradictions of your feelings for this woman.” – Cheryl Strayed

The biggest lesson of all, however, was learning to be comfortable with my own contradictions and idiosyncrasies. I have opinions that conflict with each other. I have sides of me that aren’t exactly consistent.

I am full of contradictions and that doesn’t translate to anything negative. I have permission to discover them, embrace them and express them. They are who I am.

Next year will be an important one. I’ll be moving from my homeland to Seattle, where I’ve landed a new job opportunity. I will start setting the foundations for my adult life.

In many respects, I’m terrified about this. I’m saddened to leave my beautiful little island, where my family and friends and all I’ve known happily exist. But I need my space to forge myself, gather new experiences and continue watering the seeds of independence.

What went well?

  • Independence. Discovering the value of my own subjective experience, and nurturing my ability to think and execute for myself.
  • Friendships. I forged new friendships and nurtured old ones.
  • Adulthood. Coming into the constructive realization of this new era I’m stepping into. My coming-of-age story started now, but it will continue into 2024.
  • Acceptance. Your contradictions make you who you are.
  • Maturity. Gaining new and more powerful views on the experiences I face.
  • Courage. Continuing to break my anxieties, one at a time.

What didn’t go so well?

  • Withholding. I continued a habit of not expressing my honest thoughts in certain situations.
  • Anxiety. Sometimes I let my anxiety take over me, and the fears won. There are situations where I could’ve been more courageous and faced the consequences.
  • Losing myself. There were periods of this year where I let go of my independence.
  • Not going deep enough on my hobbies. There are so many things I want to discover and learn, but it’s been difficult to discover the time and space to figure them out.

What will you focus on next year?

Continuaré sembrando las semillas de mi futuro.

Con fe, siembra y siembra y tú verás (eh-eh-eh-eh)
Con fe, siembra y siembra y tú va' a ver
Cuando lo malo te turbe y te nuble el corazón
Piensa en América Latina y repite mi pregón
Con fe, siembra y siembra y tú verás (prepárate)
Con fe, siembra y siembra y tú va' a ver
Y de acuerdo a la semilla, así nacerán los frutos
Nunca olvides a Betances: "En la unión está el futuro"
Hermano latino,
Con fe y siempre adelante.
  • Courage. Continuing a streak of trying difficult things and cultivating new experiences.
  • Independence. Moving to a new city and building a wonderful life for myself.
  • Learning. Gathering new knowledge on new domains, diversifying my knowledge base. Reading. Going deep on new hobbies.
  • Thinking for myself. Consuming less, creating more. Reading valuable content. Moderating my intake of garbage.

Work and Business

This year has been an incredible year for my career. I’ve graduated with a Computer Science degree, and after two internships, landed a Software Engineer role at Microsoft (hence the move to Seattle).

I’m so excited about this: I love my time at Microsoft. Every day I’d talk to and meet interesting (and brilliant!) people in tech. I loved helping solve problems at Azure. It was a challenging and deeply enjoyable time. My team was quite independent, something I greatly value coming from the startup world.

Microsofting at Azure
Microsofting at Azure

In terms of personal hustle, it’s been a slow year. Recently I’ve began to build personal projects again after a long hiatus. I’ve began working on a small project called Timeline to track my quantifiable life metrics. I’ve talked about it more in a previous blog post.

The next 5-6 years will be an important junction in my career. I’m stating a tech job, but feeling the pressure of knowing that my distant dream is starting a business. I’m taking steps to be on the forefront of interesting technologies that I could commercialize and finding the energy to stay up to date with them. But for now–no starting a business in my 20s, please!

What went well?

  • Graduating. I’m now a Computer Scientist. I love it.
  • Employment. I’ve secured a great employment opportunity after graduating.
  • Finding my spark. Began developing a project I’m interested in.

What didn’t go so well?

  • Discovering new technologies. I couldn’t find the time or discipline to grow my existing technology stack. I’m now learning Swift, but with discipline I could be attaining more progress in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Becoming more prolific. I couldn’t nurture the discipline to engage more in the tech community and become more consistent generating content.

What will you focus on next year?

  • Building new projects. Timeline is a long-term project I want to get going. I’ll be working on it tirelessly.
  • Starting my new job. Networking, executing, generally kicking ass.
  • Discovering new technologies. This is important for my future and it can’t wait.
  • Becoming more prolific. I have words and ideas to share. I need to focus and articulate them.

Proudest accomplishments

My first big accomplishment was graduating from university. After many sleepless nights, I finally have that beautiful Computer Science degree. I don’t regret a single second of it: experiencing that diversity of thought and learning about many subjects was something I’ll forever cherish. I made uncountable connections and friendships. The University of Puerto Rico gave me a love for knowledge that I’ll forever value.

My beloved alma mater
My beloved alma mater

My second biggest accomplishment was securing a job at Microsoft. This is an incredible opportunity for me to step up my life and dive into adulthood. I’ll make the most of it, I promise!

My third biggest accomplishment was all the progress I made bettering myself. All those moments of courage. I feel more whole and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Main aspirations for the next year

In terms of concrete goals:

  • Continue my fitness routine and tackle my nutritional deficit.
  • Learn new technologies to further my career and entrepreneurial ambitions.
  • Be more prolific. Embrace the side hustle: more content, more networking, more projects.
  • Build new personal relationships.
  • Dive into new topics and develop nuanced views.

There are more personal goals but I know what I need to do. It’s a matter of execution.

En fin

I’d like to share tidbits from a fantastic book that impacted me positively this year.

“There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.”
“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.”
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.
Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.”
“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

In 2024, I will continue to forge my becoming. Thank you for reading.