What I Hope My Life Will Look Like In A Year

What I Hope My Life Will Look Like In A Year

I recently turned nineteen, marking the final year that I would be a teenager. Personally, I’ve never felt that turning a year older was a really important event–to be honest, I still feel like I’m sixteen sometimes. Despite that, I’ve had numerous friends talk to me about the existential dread that comes with turning twenty, and I had another friend who gave me (more like I stole) the idea for creating a “20 before 20 list” (Shoutout to ayearwithriley.com). This is essentially a bucket list of twenty things I want to do before I turn twenty–hence the straightforward name. I thought that would be a fun and easy way to ease myself back into writing for my blog, but unfortunately, I can’t even begin to imagine what my future is going to look like, let alone set expectations for it. Like so many other human feelings, there’s a John Green quote that perfectly explains how I feel.

“’You’re going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!” -John Green

I really have no clue how the next year of my life is going to go, but I wanna leave it open to any of the great or terrible moments that might wander onto my path. Setting specific goals for the next year feels restricting because I really don’t know what I want the future to look like, and I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed if my life ends up in a direction different than my goals. Over the last year, I had very few concrete plans, so I followed the call of adventure or devoted myself to whatever project managed to pull me out of bed. So instead of creating a “20 before 20 list”, I thought it’d be best to create a “20 hopes for 20” list. Simple guidelines and hopes I have for what my life will look like when I turn twenty:

1. I Hope I Am Writing

Over the last year, I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing. Whether it be for my novel, my blog, or my journal, writing has become an integral part of my life. Many of my favorite moments over the last year have been the mornings when I woke up early to work on writing my novel or this blog. I would sip on my hot tea from my custom-made coffee mug, refrain from slamming my head into my keyboard, and grin at the string of words I molded into a sentence. Writing everyday helps me get over the insecurities that come from producing something that isn’t “good enough”. I sit down at my keyboard and tell myself that I can’t control whether the things I write are good or bad. The only thing I can control is whether or not I sit down and write, so I do. In the process, I hope my words can nudge even a single person to more deeply consider their place in the universe.

2. I Hope I Read For Fun

If I’m ever going to become a good writer, I think it’s important that I continue to broaden the stories and writing styles that I am exposed to. There’s no better feeling than sitting in a shady spot with a nice view and experiencing lives that I could never expect to lead. The characters I meet become just as real and dear to me as my friends. I cry over their deaths, jump up and down when they fall in love, and scream in support at their victories. Reading not only serves as a gateway to different worlds, but it also serves as a mirror. From Augustus Waters’ obsession with being remembered to Miles Halter’s yearning for the “great perhaps”, I find the unknown pieces of myself in the characters that I have come to love. I hope I continue to dig down my never-ending to-read list. 

3. I Hope I Make Time For Family

I’ve spent my entire life in a suburb in Ohio. So naturally, I knew that for college I wanted to get as far away as humanly possible from Ohio. Now that I know I’m leaving, I’ve started to gain an appreciation for this place that I had spent so many years calling “boring” or “stale”–not that it isn’t those things, but the thing I’ve gained an appreciation for the most are the moments I get to spend with my family. Nightly family dinners were never a part of my routine growing up. We would be lucky to have them once a week, but over the last year, when I sat around the dinner table with my family talking about our days at the nail salon, it really hit me that those moments would not always be readily available to me. There is a finite and countable number of family dinners that I have left with them. Each family dinner that passes, that number goes down one–that thought burns a fiery hot hole in my stomach. My mother constantly tells me how worried she is that once I leave for college I am never going to come back. I hope I prove her wrong.

4. I Hope I Put Effort Into Old Friendships

During this last year, when my high school friends moved away to college and I couldn’t see my Canadian friends because of the pandemic, I realized how hard it is to remain connected to those that you care about. Friendships are responsibilities that require effort to maintain. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When I’m away at my first year of college, I hope I make moments to have quick facetimes with my old friends or send texts telling them that even though we’re not talking a lot, I miss them and hope they’re doing well. As I grow older, I am constantly trying to come to terms with the fact that the people who once mattered so much to me will have less and less of a stake in my life. Even though I know their presence in my life will lessen, I know that the love I have for them won’t. I hope they feel the same way. 

5. I Hope I Go On Walks

My life gets exceptionally better when I take the time to take walks, especially at night. I feel more focused, aware, and present. When I walk, I try not to have any goals other than to walk and experience what it feels like to walk. The struggles and anxieties that fill my mind are pushed out by the steady stream of fresh air that rushes in. There’s no end goal in mind, and that leaves me free to experience the world as it is. For those brief thirty minutes, the fresh air blurs the line between me and the world, and I am no longer Alex. I’m the stars that paint the night sky. I’m the cool wind that rustles the leaves. I’m the rough feel of pavement. I hope I carve out time everyday to meander through our enchanting world. 

6. I Hope I Meditate Everyday

The benefits of meditation are really similar to those I’ve gotten from walking, but doing it every morning helps add order to the chaos of my unscheduled life. For fifteen minutes in the morning, I sit and try to focus my mind on the ephemeral feeling of air filling my lungs. My mind often wanders, and I end up lost in a deep rabbit hole of thoughts. Despite that, the moments where I’m able to focus on the tickle of air in my nose, I feel myself becoming more focused and mindful of myself. I hope it remains a cornerstone of my daily routine.

7. I Hope I Feel Less Unlovable

I’ve known for a while now that deep down I have trouble accepting the idea that others love me. I know that I have friends that love and care for me deeply. I know this because I love and care for them. Despite what I know, sometimes I have trouble accepting that they feel the same way towards me as I do towards them. For whatever reason, their love and affection slam up against an invisible wall, and their feelings never end up reaching me. It doesn’t make sense. It’s completely irrational, but it’s how I feel. This isn’t the type of problem that can be solved by getting more friends or receiving more validation. It’s an internal problem, and it requires time, introspection, and inward directed compassion to solve. I hope I allow myself to feel the love that others give me.

8. I Hope I Let Go Of My Superiority Complex

I’m not proud of this, but I definitely have a superiority complex. It’s not a defining characteristic of mine, I hope, but it’s definitely there. Sometimes when I feel threatened or insecure, I catch my mind automatically putting others down in order to beef up my own ego, but it’s a double-edged sword. The more that I feel like I am better than others, the more impossible it becomes to escape the feeling that other people are better than me–which causes me to put others down even more. It’s a self-feeding cycle that I’ve been caught in for ages. Whether or not I am better at something than someone or whether they’re better than me shouldn’t affect the way I view them or myself. At the end of the day, we’re all just soft sacks of meat trying to find our way in the world–everything else is ego. I hope I become more aware of and to let go of my ego.

9. I Hope I Feel Less Obligated To Entertain Others

Whenever I hangout with a person, I always feel this immense pressure to make sure that the conversation is always flowing and that they are having fun. Just the thought of an awkward silence or the effort it takes to maintain a forced conversation leaves me exhausted before I even hang out with my friends, and often, it deters me from hanging out with them entirely. Part of me is terrified that my friends will think I’m awkward or boring and not like me anymore, but that’s not true. It’s okay to be awkward and to not know what to say. People care about me for more reasons than the fact that I’m an okay conversationalist. Over the last year, I’ve definitely gotten better at sitting in those silences, but I still have a ways to go. I hope I can sit in comfortable silence with others.

10. I Hope I Do Not Become A Workaholic

So I’m going to be attending Stanford this fall, and I know that I am going to be thrown into a culture where ambition and hustle are the defining characteristics of the culture. As much as I enjoy working hard, I never want to work to the point where I feel like I’m giving up my current life for the future. I want to enjoy my time in college and not feel like my head is forever stuck in what I need to do to “reach the next level”. Even during my gap year, I’ve already felt the pressure to get an internship or start a company or monetize one of my hobbies because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. It’s great that I am going to be surrounded by people that are eagerly chasing their dreams, but I don’t want to get lost in the flow of hustle culture. I hope I make time for leisure.

11. I Hope I Have A Consistent Sleep Schedule

For most of my life, I have lacked a consistent sleep schedule. As a morning person, this constant inconsistency has held my productivity at bay. What could be a well oiled-machine is more like a clunky contraption of rusted parts. Often, I end up sleeping some time between two and five in the morning, and when I wake up around noon, I can’t help but feel that the day is already over. There’s a significant difference between dragging myself out of bed at noon to write versus rising with the roosters and settling in at my desk with a warm cup of tea. Realistically, this is not going to happen while I’m at college. I’ll be surrounded by friends, the possibility of late night shenanigans, and mountains of work. Despite the unlikelihood of it coming true, I hope I have a consistent and healthy sleep schedule.

12. I Hope I Watch Anime

I have been watching anime my entire life, but over the past couple years, I’ve found it a lot harder to sit down and watch the season’s latest anime. This is because of a mix of having less free time and my ever-shortening attention span. It is always easier to watch four five-minute YouTube videos than sitting down for twenty minutes and watching an episode of anime, and it becomes doubly hard because I can’t check my phone or let my eyes meander when I watch because of the constant attention that the subtitles require. Still, even as I grow older (it’s not just a phase mom), I continue to find shows that have characters and worlds that I absolutely fall in love with. When I take the time to sit down and absorb the medium, I can’t help but appreciate the amazing storytelling, the unforgettable soundtracks, and the animation that looks better than the real world sometimes. I hope I make the time to add more anime to the “completed” section on MyAnimeList.

13. I Hope I Quit League of Legends

I have tried to quit playing League of Legends more times than the average AA attendee has tried to quit drinking. This game has characterized so much of the last ten years of my life that part of me wonders if I’ll ever quit playing it. There are times I think to myself that I genuinely love this game, but then, there are times when I stare at my computer screen after the ninth game of the day and feel myself rotting in my seat. There’s a simple solution to this for most–play in moderation, but League of Legends has never been something that I can play casually. If I’m going to play, I want to be the best that I can be and climb as far up the solo queue ladder as I can–even if that’s not very far. On top of my competitive spirit, this game has been a huge gateway to friends and entertainment. League has always been a way to spend time with friends that don’t live near me or even making new friends, and it is also my favorite sporting (yeah, that’s right. I said sports. Esports are sports, and this is a hill I will die on). In the same way I imagine middle aged white men talking about legendary football highlights, I still think about the time Fun Plus Phoenix absolutely smashed G2 Esports in the 2019 League of Legends world championships finals. It’s more than just a game to me, and even though I know that quitting might be beneficial in the long term for my life, I can’t help but hold onto all the great memories I have. I hope I no longer play League of Legends, but I also hope that I remain a fan of the esport.

14. I Hope I Like 51% Of What I’m Learning

I love learning. In this last year, I feel like I’ve learned more than any previous year of my life–principles of psychology/therapy, how to do nails, where you’re legally allowed to camp for free in the country. This learning was fun, useful, and changed the way I viewed myself and the world, and none of it involved formal schooling (except nail school, which also happened to be the most boring part of my year). This year will mark my first year of college, and I hope that I can retain the love I have for learning, even when I am forced to learn. My worst memories from high school serve as a stark reminder of what happens when I forget why I’m learning the things I’m learning. While it’s unrealistic to think that I’ll love every class, I hope I enjoy 51% of what I’m learning.

15. I Hope I Have Seen A Little More Of The World

I’ve been blessed to be able to see more of the country on my year off, and while I don’t think travelling is a panacea for all of life’s problems, seeing how vast, beautiful, and diverse the world is has been a really enriching experience for me. There is so much more of the world, especially internationally, that I want to experience. I want to ride mopeds in Vietnam, use an onsen in Japan, hike around New Zealand, and climb Machu Picchu in Peru. There’s no real rush for me to see any of these things within the next year, but I want to continue to feel the excitement of exploring unknown territory. I hope I see parts of the world I’d never seen before

16. I Hope I Get To Go Back To Westlock

It is no secret that my favorite place on Earth is a small meditation center near Edmonton, Alberta called Westlock Meditation Center. I spent every summer there for nearly nine years, and I’ve met half of my best friends at that unassuming patch of land. It’s my home. Because of a certain global pandemic, I haven’t been able to return in two years, but it’s only a matter of time before I find my way back there. I hope I will be able to see the sun rise from the top of the meditation center, I hope I will be able to sit by the lake and meditate, and I hope, more than anything in the world, I get to share more laughs with those friends.

17. I Hope I Meet Interesting And Diverse People

In this last year alone, I have met a diverse and incredible group of people. Growing up in the same middle-class, white, Christian suburb for my entire life made me forget how vast the world was and how different people can be. Through the people I’ve met, I’ve gotten to learn more about the world, and the people I’ve met have shaped the experiences. I shot my first gun because of a guy I met from Kansas, I learned how to live out of my car because of a guy I met from Texas, and I saw some beautiful lakes because of two girls I met from Wisconsin. I hope I can look around and continue to feel amazed and lucky to have stumbled into such incredible people. 

18. I Hope I Become More Aware Of Social Issues

There is so much I don’t know and don’t understand about the country that I live in. In this last year, I think I’ve made an effort to understand more of it, and in the process, I’ve come face to face with a lot of my own implicit biases. It’s pretty hard to admit that you have implicit biases because everyone wants to view themselves as a promoter of justice or the hero that comes and saves those that need help. We’d hate to see that we’re the unknowing villain. While I think I’ve gotten better at being aware of my implicit biases and social privileges, I know that I still have a ways to go. I hope I look back and feel astounded at the amount I don’t know now.

19. I Hope I Journal

Journaling has become a cornerstone of my nightly routine. It’s the perfect way for me to organize my thoughts about the day and to take the time to reflect on the type of day that I had. When I don’t journal, the days feel like they fly by because I never stop to let the events that happened sink in. How can I expect myself to understand what just happened to me if I don’t give myself the time to process it? It also serves as a great way to store the memories, ideas, and personality that I will inevitably forget. When I one day read through my journal entries, I hope I laugh out loud, tear up, and smile because I will have lived a life full of wonderful and awful experiences.

20. I Hope I Laugh Often

It’s really easy to get lost in the sea of responsibilities that life brings. In six months, I’m sure I’ll be drowning in homework and internship applications, My parents will probably be sad that I’m not calling enough, so I’ll try calling more. Maybe there’s some new political issue that I need to inform myself on to be a responsible citizen. Life can easily become a series of boxes that I need to check off in order to produce some future good, and when I achieve that good, I’ll find a new set of check lists to cross off. People, I, forget that the only reason I’m doing any of this is to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. None of this really matters. In a thousand years, no one will care who I voted for, if I called my mom, or whether or not I became an author. History will forget about me just like it forgets about all of us, and that’s okay. The only thing that matter within this brief window of consciousness is this brief window of consciousness. I vote because I want to feel like an active participant in shaping the society I live in. I call my mother because I love her, despite how often we fight. I write because it enriches my life. How sad is it for life to become a series of checkmarks. I hope I laugh at every stupid dad joke, at every stupid thing my friends do, at every weird and wonderful thing that happens in my life–because what else do we have.

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