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2018 - Year in Review

Posted on 14 mins read

The year 2018 has been quite a roller coaster year for me. I saw many ups and downs, many successes and many failures, faced many challenges on the personal front and struggled to keep myself on track. I have been working hard on improving my lifestyle (not materialistically) for the last few years, and the benefits have begun to show up now. This year was a pinnacle in that aspect. A lot of micro changes happened in my life this year. With so much happening and so much to write, I decided to break up this post in the following sections -

I often read my blog posts from last years. Reading these posts give me a good feeling about the improvements that I could bring in myself during the previous three years. Writing year reviews and posts like this, this and this serve as documents of my deeds from past for my future. It helps me in not repeating the same mistakes. As a human being, I cannot run away from committing mistakes, but I can always make sure that I do not repeat the same mistakes.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Blogging & Writing

I had set a target to write 15 blog articles at the beginning of this year. In the end, I managed to achieve this goal. I managed to write 17 blog posts and six book reviews. My blog managed to get much traffic this year, mainly thanks to some of my technical posts.

I got some good responses from people about my technical blog posts. My aim to start writing technical posts was to keep an account of what I learn. It feels very nice when I go back to my posts to read how I did something last time. So I consider myself successful that at least I could benefit from my writing.

Though, in 2018, after leaving college, the frequency of technical posts on this blog has dipped to almost zero. Probably it is because I am not exploring enough after joining the corporate world. In college, I used Linux all the times, but now it is nearly four months since I last booted Linux in my system. I think it is yet another phase of my learning and I will take some time adjusting with this. I have some nice technical post ideas, and I hope that I will be able to articulate them soon next year.

Reading

For most of the year, I did not pay any heed to books, and I was never very interested in buying books. However, at the end of October, I bought Kindle Paperwhite. I consider this to be the best investment done by me this year. Since buying it, I have read eight books. I finally managed to finish my Goodreads reading challenge of 10 books. Although I could not finish one book and included one audiobook to this challenge to complete my target on time.

This year, I discovered my interest in Economics. I am reading some economics-related literature lately. It is a nice shift from my all-CS life. I plan to read a lot of economics-related books in 2019 to gain more expertise in this domain. But I still need to figure out a way to stop it from interfering with my first (or second maybe!) love.

Some of my favorite reads from this year (not in any particular order) -

I used Instapaper extensively throughout the year to manage and save the articles that I liked. Although I was never very consistent in reading those saved articles, it was still a good exercise. I finished all my pending pile of saved articles by the end of the year. Moreover, for this post, it became straightforward for me to recollect those links. This list grew excessively large, but I did not want to lose any of these links because of some random third party service shutting down, so I am adding them here for easy reference in future.

Next year onwards, I plan to read one academic paper from my favorite areas of CS in every two weeks and summarise them to improve my understanding of the domain (the readings section of my blog was initially intended for this purpose). Moreover, seeing my experience in the last two months, I feel encouraged to increase my Goodreads reading challenge to 20 books.

Work

The year 2018 was a crucial year for me on this front. It was the year when I had to come out of the comfort zone of my parents’ protection. My professional life began this year, and I started earning MONEY. It feels delightful when you see the money getting deposited to your bank account every month for the hard(!) work that you have done for last one month. But

With great power comes great responsibility.

I believe that I have been able to control this feeling of power quite nicely until now. Probably being an Agarwal helped :P

Coming back to work, those who do not know, I joined Cisco Systems this year as a Software Engineer. The job is pretty nice for my initial expectations. I made some good friends. First time in my life, I managed to make a group of friends.

Quite an achievement.

Studies

This year was officially my last year in formal education. Although I failed to finish my bachelors with a satisfactory final GPA (at least I am not happy with it), I am very much satisfied with all my learnings from college. I learned many life lessons, kept myself in check, built some useful contacts, learned a lot about many CS related things and ended up with a decent job in the end.

However, I sense that this is not the happy ending of my journey towards learning, and I have a lot more to learn. I recently read the book “The Alchemist,” and the central theme of this book is to keep looking for your personal legend. I am still searching for my personal legend. In 2019, I expect to find new ways to keep learning and explore new areas both in CS and other fields of life.

Relationships

Before this year, I had an assumption that I lack social skills. I hesitated in talking to people. I decided to change it this year. I was waiting for a change in my life, probably because NITC had become too monotonous for me. It was one of my new year’s resolution that I will change myself and become more approachable to people.

I do not know if I have changed or not, but I feel much more confident now than ever in communicating with people. I hope I will continue to improve in 2019 as well.

Social Media

I was trying to get rid of Facebook for quite some time. This year, I finally managed to control my addiction. For a good part of the year, either my Facebook account remained deactivated, or I was logged out of it. In the past, I used to feel a strong urge to open Facebook every ten minutes, but this year, I was able to keep this urge in control. When my account was not deactivated, I kept myself so busy in other works, that I did not even think of Facebook.

Moreover, the good thing is that I did not notice any symptoms of withdrawal symptoms because of this sudden quitting of Facebook. A friend’s advice worked nicely. It was quite tricky, indeed.

I was never addicted to any other social media platform, but I decided that I can use Twitter for my benefit. I feel Twitter is a useful tool if utilized correctly. I followed many people who tweet regularly about CS related stuff. I open Twitter once every 2-3 days for a very short duration to collect some articles and tips. Nowadays, these articles along with few blog articles from Feedly mainly form my Instapaper feed. Though Instapaper recently switched to commercial model again, I decided to keep using it for the time being until I find some other alternative.

Miscellaneous

I had decided to exercise for at least 90% part of 2018. I failed miserably. Leave alone every day; I could not even do it continuously for one month. I need to make this a top priority. Otherwise, it is going to create troubles for me soon.

For the last two years, I am trying to get up early in the morning every day. My body does not seem to care though. It seems a classic example of the tussle between mind and body. My brain says that I am an early bird, but my body straightforwardly rejects this idea. I have felt the positives of waking up early, so I am still trying my best so that my body can adjust to this change. I will keep working on this habit in 2019 as well.

I noticed a bad habit in myself - procrastination. I procrastinated a lot in 2018. Things that I could have finished well within the deadlines took me ages to complete. I was always late in my BTech project deadlines, I could not finish one of my hobby projects, I could not finish my study targets on time, and many other such examples haunted me this year. It is one of my most important goals of 2019 that I need a way to find how to concentrate on one thing at a time. Many things distract me while I am working. Technology itself is a significant distraction, but because I am a CS professional, this is one thing, from which I cannot run away. However, I will still try to avoid getting distracted by my curiosity and put more focus on doing work.

I am writing more than ever. However, with my increased writing, my English vocabulary is not enough anymore. This year, it happened many times, that I wanted to write something, but because of lack of proper words in my vocabulary, I had to settle with inferior words. I tried multiple times this year to work on improving my vocabulary, but I failed badly. I will increase my focus on improving my knowledge of English in 2019 so that such small issues do not stop me from adding something to my skills.

This year, I experimented and tried to organize myself with to-do lists. It was a fruitful exercise, and it had a lot of sound effects on my productivity. The days when I made a to-do list, I felt very energetic and encouraged to finish all the task on my list. However, then I noticed one thing, I could not continue doing this for more than a few days at once. For initial days, I felt encouraged to complete my tasks, but soon it began to appear as a burden, and I felt exhausted. So it seems that something in the middle will work for me. This year, I will continue using to-do lists (I use Google Keep for this) but for short durations of time. I will refrain from using it every day to avoid getting exhausted. I am considering a switch to Notion to maintain my monthly and long-term goals. Probably that will also help me in keeping track of my goals without feeling the heat.

All of my friends love to travel. It seems a common habit in most of my friends. However, I am an exception. I’m not particularly eager to go on trips. I attribute it to my issues with motion sickness. For the whole year of 2018, I do not have a single trip memory other than my travels to Bengaluru and Jaipur airports. Oh yeah, after thinking for some time, I recalled that I went on one trip from Bengaluru to Calicut to attend my convocation ceremony. That’s all! I will consider accepting trip invitations from my friends in 2019. Up until now, I keep refusing to join them in their trips due to my health issues, my desire to stay in solitude and partially because of my unwillingness to explore anything outside technology. However, it is time I start changing myself.

It was a grave mistake that during my four-year stay in Kerala, I did not try to learn Malayalam. I feel that I missed an excellent opportunity to learn a new language. Although I am as bad as other north Indians when it comes to knowing multiple languages (correct me if I am wrong, I do not intend to generalize all north Indians), I think that learning a new language can be very beneficial for some parts of my brain. Now I am in Karnataka, yet another south Indian state and with yet another language. It is an excellent opportunity, and I am not going to repeat my mistake this time. Even if I do not succeed in learning Kannada, it will provide enough challenges to my brain for the short term. Who knows, it might also give me a new skill!


Welcome 2019, I hope that you will help me in taking a step closer to discovering myself. Give me new experiences, keep me grounded and help me in contributing to the progress of my India. 😊

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