2023 year in review


an overview of 2023 and a peek at plans for 2024

2023 in a nutshell

well, it's been a while. figured the end of a year or the start of a new one would be a pretty good time to take stock of what exactly went down. unlike my previous blog post, I do Not have the patience to type a bunch of stuff fully out, so here's a list of significant things that happened to me in 2023, in loosely chronological order:

theme! review!

for the last few years, I haven't done New Year's resolutions— instead I've done yearly themes, a la CGP Grey. this started in 2021 with Year of Identity, then we had 2022: Year of Progress. for 2023, I chose the theme "Year of Defiance." Hm.

I understand why I chose it— at the end of 2022 I was very fed up with the wave of anti-trans laws and was realizing that I had some Not Healthy people-pleasing tendencies. it was meant to be a sort of hah! I'm going to be loud and proud and brash and care less about what other people think and just Do Shit. which, laudable sentiment! unfortunately my personality seems on some level to be diametrically opposed to that type of thing (or those habits are just harder than I thought to kick).

that's not to say that I did nothing in line with this theme— one big example would be taking steps towards changing my name. baby steps, admittedly, but even they were a leap of confidence I don't think I could have made a year ago. I also got more confident in dressing in my desired gender presentation around family and in professional settings, which is also a step in the right direction. I also got a lot more confident in my own capabilites as a researcher & about speaking about my work— I think 2022 Aster would have struggled with presenting their work while 2023 Aster did so quite well. perhaps a retroactive tweak to the 2023 theme could be "Year of Confidence."

however, I'm equally tempted to call 2023 the Year of Creativity. one of the biggest through lines this year for me was getting back into writing and storytelling. this started with my poetry and short story writing courses in the spring, and then continued with my TTRPG campaign and fanfiction this fall. this has been hugely impactful for me. as you might be able to tell from my themes for 2021 & 2022, I was dealing with a lot of mental health struggles for the last few years. I felt very empty and disconnected from my sense of self for a long time, but over the course of this year the clouds finally started to clear up. I think having the creative outlet of writing was a big part of this, so I think it wouldn't be remiss to honor it in the year's (retroactive) theme.

2024: year of connection

for 2024, I've decided on the theme of "connection." this choice was inspired by this piece of Disco Elysium fanfiction, of which connection is a major theme, but my choice goes deeper than my Disco obsession.

like I said in the previous section, my connection to my sense of self and my emotions has greatly improved in the past year, but in that process it's uncovered some other issues that I think need addressing. connection to self is still a part of this— for example, I'd like to work on connecting with my body (maybe through exercising more) and kick some body confidence issues I've developed to the curb. but, I think the main focus is going to be on interpersonal connections: getting a sense of what I want and need from other people, and working on being more open and less repressed with them.

in particular, I'd like to work on being more open with my parents— for a variety of reasons I've gotten into the habit of telling them as little as possible about my life, which has made our relationship pretty distant. I'd like to kick that habit, but there's a lot of scary things in the way: coming out (as gay, as trans, and/or as neurodivergent), emotional vulnerability, managing expectations. if I can work on doing some of those, it might go a long way towards getting closer with them.

the other big thing I want to work on is getting to a place where I can be in a romantic relationship again. for the past year & change, I have been Actively Not Dating because I needed to focus on my own mental health, and I didn't have the time to devote to one without taking time away from the rest of my friends. but, I've realized recently that there are things about dating someone that I really miss, and aren't things I feel comfortable seeking out through other means. my goal is not "get a partner," I to prefer to develop a romantic connection organically rather than actively meet people with the intent of dating, but if I can work on how I approach these relationships I'll be ready for when one does come my way.