The last year of a tumultuous decade, 2019 brought immense and unexpected career growth at the expense of relationships. I wish the upcoming twenty-twenty swings the balance back towards reflection, art, and unplanned wanders. As I feel fast transitioning through middle age, I would like one more savor of youth while laying the foundation for the decade ahead.
Work. You did it. You proved that you can work and work hard and smartly. You grabbed the brass ring. Your scientific and career instincts are good; keep listening to these instincts (and the wisdom of your scientific mentors) to select projects, start new initiatives, and in general do the right thing. However, it is time to step back and get off the critical path at work, because although the light of scrutiny shines brightly, that hot light also exhausts. Transform a complex chemical factory into something more automated, less brittle, and simpler. Aim eventually to sit on a beach next to a screen that pulses green: everything is okay.
Battle less. Work may be full of stressful conflict, but take these skirmishes less personally. Learn how to work with, not against difficult people, magnifying their strengths. Turn down the volume. Pay back with mentorship to promote others to lead. Nonetheless, charge forth on one last campaign in February to climb the next rung for another promotion. As wise Rikke counseled on her last day at work, “Remember, it is only a job.”
It’s scary, but date. Find companionship. Allow for rejection and missed connections. Be open to the unexpected and the not perfect. Mister or Missus Right Now may turn into They Forever. Set clearer boundaries with exes to open up other spaces. Have sex more, with people different than you, as you may not get or want many more opportunities.
Be good to your friends. Plan more outings. Bring new people into your life. Be open but also trust your instincts.
Drink less. You say this every year and nothing works. Hangovers suck and long-term alcoholism is bad for the body and the wallet. Try ordering rounds with non-alcoholic alternatives. Drink one less.
Get fucked up more. The reasons and locations to do drugs diminish, so jump at opportunities. Bring a disparate group together to take acid. Continue to host. Be more of yourself.
Art is done. Is it? Enjoy the end of a LED era. Allow space for what is next. What interests you? What challenges you? What do you want to devote your time towards? It is okay (and almost better) not to have answers now.
Be ready for adventure. See those last remaining 6 states. Spend work capital to go far. Visit the Balkans or tour the Baltics. Try New Zealand or fly to Costa Rica. Go alone or with someone new.
If the ducks line up, decamp to Cape Town, but go for a reason and not just to run away. Work may be grueling, but there may be growth and challenges and reasons to stay. Don’t squander opportunity.