2022: The best year of my life

A Hero's Journey

Friday, July 19, 2024

Hey there Reader,

Happy New Year's Eve!

As the title of this issue suggests, I want to share with you a bit about why 2022 was, hands-down, bar-none, the best year of my life and why I'm optimistic that 2023 will be even better!

I'm also writing to you from NYC this week, where I've been hanging out for almost the last two weeks, and I love this city! But let's not waste any more time and get into it.

A flourishing personal/social life

2022 was a rocket-ship year for personal growth: I went from depressed and anxious (with a few positive markers sprinkled in, admittedly) to the best place I've ever been in my life, particularly in my personal and social life.

I ended 2021 in a rough place. 2020 was very rough for me personally, and while 2021 was better for sure, there were still some huge problems that 2021 brought up. So by the end of that year, while I had successfully lost a significant amount of weight (a little over 30 pounds) and had a few other positive events, I was running pretty ragged.

A recap of the year

Within six months of 2022, I had: lost an additional 30 pounds, started dating for the first time in my life, gotten a firm handle on the post-COVID anxiety/depression I'd been dealing with, and was about to embark on the longest solo international trip of my life (Birthright, to Israel). I had already crushed all my most important goals for the year and had barely gotten started.

My life-changing Birthright experience propelled me into the next six months, where I: lost another 20 pounds (and maybe more since I haven't weighed since I left for NYC), experienced my first relationship (and breakup), made a number of new friends that make me feel appreciated and loved, and even started taking salsa dancing lessons again. And I'm sure there's more that isn't coming to mind right now.

In total, I reached a weight I hadn't been at since my Junior/Senior year of high school. I feel healthier than I've ever been in my entire life, and I have, for sure, the healthiest self-perspective I've ever had (no more body image issues or treating anxiety with food). I believe myself far more capable of making and sustaining friendships, building stronger familial relationships, and pursuing romantic relationships than I've ever felt by orders of magnitude.

I'm finally discovering what it means just to be myself. To me, it's less like this has been a year of improvement as much as it's been a year of uncovering who I really am and learning that that guy is very much appreciated and has something valuable to offer. That he's worthy of love, like everyone else. That he doesn't have to be "perfect" cause no one can even agree on what perfect is. And that life is so much easier when I am just me.

My hopes for 2023 (and what I'm being careful about)

As wonderful as 2022 has been, I've all the reason in the world to believe that 2023 will be another order of magnitude even better. I have immense momentum going into the New Year and a whole basket of friends, tools, and more to help me be my most authentic self.

Just in terms of my personal life, I hope to: travel to a new country (or maybe even two), visit some friends and family who I haven't seen in a while who live in other cities, move to a new city myself, make even more friends, and have a host of fun and lively romantic experiences (maybe even fall in love for the first time?).

That said, I'm going into the year with eyes wide open, as they say. I've learned now through experience that even though I'm experiencing a lot of general success in putting myself out there, that still comes with a significant amount of self-doubt and fear. I'm still adjusting to this new reality and working on shaking off the fears that I'll be ostracized for being myself whenever I put myself out there. This has been getting easier, particularly in the last few months, but it's still something I'm working on. I'm also working on internalizing the idea that it's okay if some people don't like you. Because I don't have to be for everyone: I just have to find my tribe. And if some people don't like me, that doesn't mean it's all over because I'll still have my tribe to return to.

Re-defining my career

As most of you probably already know, I made a huge decision to leave my job in August and take some time off to figure out what I wanted to do next. It took a little while to get out of the fog, so to speak, but I've been actively job-searching for a month or so now and interviewing for really promising opportunities.

It's a matter of time until I land at a fantastic early-stage startup company (which is what I want) where I can grow in my career in the ways I want and need to.

But while a great new job is awesome, and I'm looking forward to it, the larger benefit to this sabbatical was that, for maybe the second time in my life, I felt like I was making a bet on myself and that I was putting trust into myself and the universe that I would end up exactly where I needed to be. There's something so powerful about being in that position where you can make a significant change that feels like the right thing to do, whether it looks like the right thing to others or not.

Maybe 2023 is your year to put your trust in yourself too?

The beginning of A Hero's Journey

With all that's happened in 2022, I sometimes forget that this was the year I started this very newsletter, haha. And while it hasn't always been perfect (it's been four weeks since the last issue, for instance—my bad), it has been a bright spot in the year because I've enjoyed writing it. There have been 21 issues this year—including this one—over 33 total weeks (started May 12th, 2022), which means there's been, on average, an issue every 1.56 weeks.

I've also grown from 23 subscribers to 48, about 2/3 of which are people I know. The rest of you are internet strangers (or, should I say, internet friends). I have yet to really focus much on growing this list, so small numbers are expected.

I am delighted that all my issues see > 40% open rates, and the majority see > 50% open rates, which means you guys are reading my issues and enjoying them enough to keep reading them consistently. That's a positive sign that I must be doing something right...

A Hero's Journey in 2023

I can already tell I'll face one critical challenge next year: time and energy bandwidth. As you've already read, I'm planning on putting a lot of energy and time into my personal life next year, building on the successes and momentum of this year. And with a refreshed career in a more challenging (but also more rewarding) job, I'll clearly be stretched for time and general mental bandwidth.

So here's the thing: I know what I need to do to grow A Hero's Journey and build my brand, but I don't know whether I'll have the capacity for all of it. If I did the following things, I think I'd easily grow this newsletter to 1,000 people by the end of the year or more, not to mention get 10s of thousands of views on my work and probably a few more things too (like consulting work or other niche opportunities).

  1. Maintain the weekly newsletter cadence more religiously (trying to miss no more than five issues in the whole year).
  2. Write and publish 3-4 stories on Medium per month.

That's it. It's really all about consistency at this point. I know that I'm a good writer, I know I write a good newsletter, and I know I can come up with great stories to share on Medium that get hits. If I can apply those things consistently, I'll see consistent results. And suppose I ended up with one or two viral stories over the year. In that case, that could end up netting me many more subscribers than I've even imagined so far (I wouldn't be the first person to suddenly get 10s of thousands of subscribers from a couple of viral stories).

So the question remains: will I manage to balance all the things, or will A Hero's Journey be a little quiet next year? Time will tell.

Journey Update

I'm not going to write a full update this week because you've already gotten that from the body of this issue. So instead, I'm going to remind you to check in with yourself in this time of transition going from one year to the next.

I don't recommend New Year's Resolutions because they're simply too difficult to follow through on, and if you're new to goal-setting, it's best to start with something small. So if you're thinking about something you want to strive for next year, something you want to change, or just something you want to try, consider the following:

  1. Start with a small goal: something you have complete control over (i.e., instead of "lose 5 pounds", it'd be "eat something that's vegetable-forward at least once a day"), something with a small time-box (think on the order of weeks or even days), and something you'd feel good about achieving.
  2. Let go of expectations: I've lost so much weight in the last two years because I let go of any expectations of what my body should or shouldn't be. When you're busy judging yourself, you don't make space for actually growing. This applies to any sort of goal, too, not just weight (that just happens to be a good personal example).
  3. Celebrate the wins and acknowledge the losses: wins should feel good, and it's okay for them to feel good—you won, congrats! Losses also should be felt, but remember they aren't the end of the world. In fact, they're not so much losses as lessons. Remember that.

Most importantly, just be yourself. And remember that you are good enough.

That's all for this week's issue. Thanks for reading, and you'll see me in your inbox again next week!

If I can ask you to do just one thing, consider sharing this newsletter with a friend or family member. Here's the link so you can pass it along: https://aherosjourney.co/


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Millan Singh

I'm writing about my journey to build, learn, and grow as a Creative Entrepreneur and Software Engineer. Stories about my job (I'm employee #2 at a seed-stage startup), entrepreneurial work, investing (a personal passion), and personal growth—a blend of professional and personal content.

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