2022 Q1 review

I struggled with priorities and imposter syndrome, but I learned some things about myself.

Art by ELIOLI
Art by ELIOLI
This quarter felt less eventful. Now that things are starting to open up, I’ve been out connecting (with family and friends) and took some days off to relax by the beach and pool before starting my new job. I did publish a revised version of how I review and plan my days in a blog post and a template, and built a Twitter course?! More on that below. There were two things that haunted me though: my focus — or rather, my lack thereof — and another issue I’ll highlight below. If it weren’t for these two issues, I think I would have had a more “productive” quarter. (What is even the point of being productive all the time? I’m still learning to not let productivity dictate my life)

Prioritising — where are my priorities?


I struggled with my goals, even when I had already my priorities down. My main goals were mastering Notion with the Notion Mastery course, growing my newsletters by writing more, and learning with Crypto, Culture & Society. As things gradually return to “normal”, so are some of my pre-pandemic routines. My new job is no longer remote and I’ve been handed more responsibilities. I was still convinced I was able to narrow down my priorities, so I did. But I kept revisiting them because I couldn’t align them.
It felt like a mental block that I couldn’t get past, because of the sudden overwhelming wave of new and old routines merging together. I didn’t want to deal with them. So I procrastinated on the “little things” that were disguised as productivity. Things like reading and exploring new topics, connecting with people, and spending my time on Twitter took up my schedule. There were non-negotiable tasks like journaling too. All of these weren’t bad per se, but they distracted me from priorities. I did try almost everything I could think of to help me decide, including grouping my goals up into “non-negotiables”, “core focus”, and “nice-to-haves”. When I thought I finally nailed them down, something was still bothering me. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was at first, so I continued procrastinating. It took me some more reflections and conversations with others that finally clicked for me. During this process, I discovered two things about myself that were crucial to my priorities.

i) I want to be interesting

This is telling for me because one of the reasons I’m curious about many things is that I want to be interesting. “Interesting” is subjective. I describe being interesting with being knowledgeable. I struggled to make friends in school. I was into very niche things so it was harder for me to closely connect with others. To make up for that, I absorb as much knowledge as I can to be “interesting” and make more friends. But the depth of my knowledge of subjects is often shallow. Sure, I might be interested in Stoicism, for example, but I’m not able to express it as well as people who are actually knowledgeable. It makes me feel like a fraud, because of the lack of “opinions” I have on something. Do we need opinions to be interesting?
 
My partner is the opposite — when he would get into a subject, I’d see him “rabbit-holing” on days’ end until he’s satisfied. I’m envious that I don’t have that level of focus as he is. I don’t have that patience, because I want to see quick results. This is funny because while I do enjoy the process of doing things, I want to be “interesting” asap. And I think that has been my downfall for years, because I tend to lose focus and get lost in my priorities. It’s also possible that it stemmed from the fear of being boring.
 

ii) I’m afraid of being boring

Only during my young adult years did self-awareness hit and shit, I actually don’t know a lot about what’s happening around the world. I started collecting pieces of information that would make me more interesting, but only enough to hold short conversations, unfortunately. I was afraid that if I dive too deep into a topic, I might waste my time because I could have used the time to acquire new knowledge instead. If I didn’t, I’d be out of date and boring. If I’m boring, then I’ll be less liked by others. That was what my thought process was. And only recently did I realise that to actually become interesting I need to overcome the barrier of being boring. I need to be ok with being boring for a while. I have the following tweet to thank:
every insanely interesting person I know seems to have been completely comfortable being boring for a very long time while they investigated what exactly about their interests was interesting to them. — Molly Mielke
To become interesting, we must first be comfortable with being boring enough. And that’s the hardest part, for me. I’ll have to go through the long, and even arduous, process of learning, instead of acquiring small pieces of knowledge that are quick wins. The irony is by my definition, I’m already boring since I haven’t dipped my toes deep enough in most subjects to be knowledgeable and engage in discussions. I’m always hovering at the boring stage. Again, I’m afraid it will take so much time to learn, so I rather move on with easy wins instead. I’ve now aligned my main goals with my priorities again after processing these two things. It always seems like if I’m blocked from accomplishing something, it’s likely a psychological factor that I haven’t yet considered. So, note to self: The next time you feel that way, try digging into the why instead of brute-forcing your way through.
 
Art by ELIOLI
Art by ELIOLI

Facing imposter syndrome


My imposter syndrome flares up when I thought I was good at something but I start to doubt myself and my values because of unrealistic expectations. It triggered this quarter because of my current job. Everyone has some degree of imposter syndrome. We’d question our ability, even though we know we’re capable. Some of us might just be better at winging it. Sometimes I like to joke, am I even good enough to have imposter syndrome? 🤔 Having imposter syndrome also means you care about what you do, but you don’t want to mess up for fear of judgement from others. I also think of it as being outside my comfort zone, which counts as a part of my personal growth. The funny thing is I wrote about imposter syndrome last year, but there’s still a lot of unlearning to do. Despite my beliefs aligning with my new job and getting the hang of it, I still felt like an imposter. It was also my gut feeling (or rather, overthinking) telling me that I wasn’t doing enough and my team might have felt the same. I’m afraid that I might have been a mistake. I started to think about the shame of being dismissed. Or that my worth is dismissed. It’s strange that we tie our self-worth to our jobs or the things we do. I still wanted to prove myself, but it was difficult due to the current nature of the work (we’re starting from scratch so I can’t work on quick wins). I kept this anxiety to myself. Journaling did help, but I still couldn’t focus because the judgemental and impulsive thoughts distracted me. What if they hate me? What if they just felt bad for me? I mustered up the courage to ask for feedback when it snapped to me that overthinking was going nowhere. As usual, communicating dissolved my anxieties. I realised that there was nothing I could do about my imposter syndrome, other than focus on what I do best. I also worry because I waste time on my weaker points that I may not be proud of but do to impress others, rather than on my strengths. So, that’s what I did — focus on my strengths. This cycle will return. But I find documenting these helpful for the future me because it serves as a good personal reminder that everything is (mostly) okay. And that I am not my job.

Creating things


I didn’t create or write as much as I’d like to this quarter, because of *gestures at everything*. I did publish my 2021 year in review and relaunch a revised version of my Notion template to review and plan your year. The revision happened because of my new learnings from Notion Mastery, a course to up my Notion game. I wish I had spent more time with the course the last quarter, but I’m gradually getting back at it again as one of my focuses this new quarter. I also have been consistent with my monthly personal newsletter, but there’s the other newsletter on Substack that I’m neglecting because I find it more challenging and even scary. I’m used to writing about personal experiences of creating things, but not... my experiences with consuming media, as in my thoughts on why I appreciate something. I know why I love or hate something, but I don’t know how to put them down in words that well. That’s one more thing to conquer. I’m at least trying to start writing mini-reviews of the movies I watch for the time being. Baby steps. And there’s my Twitter course. Gasp, another Twitter course? Yes, another Twitter course to grow your following in my special way. If I can grow 1,000 followers in 12 years, so can anyone else. I talked a little bit about it here on Twitter. I almost didn’t go through with it, but it was something I’d been planning since late last year and I wanted to get it out of the way before Q2. So, if you happen to want to grow your Twitter following to 1,000 in 12 years, check this course out.
I think I might dig deeper into some of these topics in separate blog posts. So I’ll sit with this review, for now, until I come up with more thoughtful pieces. Writing this reflection makes me realise I don’t really know how to conclude, so I’ll end by saying I hope you learn a thing or two here or even prompt you to take an action. Whatever the case, I hope you have a good April, May, and June. See you in July with my Q2 review!
 

Other highlights


  • Chinese New Year celebration
  • My new PM job is in a super early-stage edtech startup
  • Surfskating improvements!
  • More consistent with my vitamins intake as well as breathing exercises with yoga stretches for my night routine, which actually helped me feel more restful in my sleep
 

Q2 goals


Besides my PM job:
  • Levelling up my Notion game: Create a new digital product or two with Notion.
  • Writing: Publish a monthly newsletter, write mini movie reviews, one new Substack piece
  • 50-hour Yin Yoga training! I’m going to be certified to teach yin yoga soon 🤓🧘🏻‍♀️
 
 
BIG thanks to Yishi Zuo and Amber Williams for providing feedback on this piece!