I wonder, even though it’s been a year since I’ve been a student, when late August/September will no longer smell like a new start. I guess since I am moving back to Philly from my childhood home, I’m beginning a new chapter. (Around this time, I would also have started medical school if I had gotten in. That dream still hangs around like a ghost).
I feared that taking another gap year would feel too much like being stuck in last year, while other people go on to new and better things. I’m trying to remind myself that this year is already different from last year in a lot of ways, and I’ll feel more confident trying novel things.
My conclusion from all this is…love makes people fucking crazy—yet it has healed me. I feel whole and raise my eyes to the sky above the river. There’s only clouds, no blue, but…I accept my fate, whatever it may be. I was reluctantly resigned at first, but even though I preferred one way, I’m ready to move on. A little lonelier, but wiser and more grown.
June 24, my journal.
I’ve been moving in such a flurry lately that I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. But I’ve been writing—writing lots. Just for medical school re-applications, not for this. Like the split-screen moment in  Days of Summer, I could see the path of my life fork, based on whether I got into med school. This past month, that alternate reality of not going to med school…is just my life now.
But I’ve been keeping busy with remote work, shadowing, tutoring…and a few small trips.
Things are changing. It’s been warm for a while, but you’ve probably felt the world thawing suddenly, too.
In the States, it’s like we’re coming out of hibernation and truly feeling joy again. Yet a chill of irony passes over me because recently, I’ve been feeling sadder than I have in a long time. Not as bad as those wretched, nightmare-inducing first days of lockdown. But am I alone in just feeling “okay?”
Half a decade after abandoning a crude YouTube playlist of songs, it’s safe to say I can’t live without Spotify. It has even extended beyond my personal enjoyment of music. What’s amazing about Spotify is that it’s become a more social app without depending on “likes” or “followers.” How, you may ask!? Well, look no further, because I eagerly throw myself at every new Spotify feature whenever one comes out.
Not enough people are talking about Spotify Sessions. Admittedly it is still in beta mode and has plenty of bugs to work out. However, during the year of COVID, this feature is now one of my go-tos. At its best, it’s very powerful and impressive. For example, I recently used Sessions to remotely DJ my friends’ road trip, as they drove miles away. Even in the same space, my squad and I use Sessions while jamming so that we can add things to a queue and see what songs are playing from our own phones.
Then, sometimes it doesn’t work so well. Often the music will be interrupted if another member of the session simply opens the Spotify app. Sometimes, especially in the earlier days, the queues of the members would not sync up, which could waste someone’s hard work if they tried to queue a lot of songs. My greatest qualm is there is not a clear rhyme or reason for how Sessions end. Hosts can end Sessions manually, and members can leave voluntarily, but what if the music stops and everyone forgets about the Sessions for a while? The worst case scenario is when we were done listening to music together, one friend started listening to her personal music while still connected to us through the session. Safe to say I did not expect to see “All Time Low Radio” start on my phone.
Blends and Only You
Spotify recently introduced Blends, a chance to “meld” together you and your friend’s music taste, resulting in a continuously-updated playlist. I tried this, and I really liked that they show the profile picture of who “contributed” the song to the Blend, so you don’t have to guess who is responsible. Perhaps the friend I tried it with has similar taste to me, but I feel like most of the songs I knew already, and sometimes the Blend does not reliably show who “contributed” the song (i.e. it says my friend contributed the song, but in fact I also listened and knew the song beforehand). I think Blends is a great idea, but it doesn’t seem to be taking off. I think it’s rather difficult to locate on the app.
Meanwhile, I’ve seen Only You get much more attention. Probably because it’s basically a mini version of the yearly Wrapped summaries. Everyone likes to think they’re special. It’s a bit more gimmicky than Wrapped (like the star signs?), but it does have some interesting insights. Here’s what my Only You said:
When I scroll back in my blog and see the hopes I had for 2020, I feel a sense of dramatic irony now that we have all lived through this year. 2020 was supposed to be the glorious year of graduating college and gap year traveling. But all it took was a virus to expose how feeble our best-laid plans are.
As someone who loves hosting gatherings, enjoying restaurants, and getting lost at crowded concerts, this year felt like a sacrifice of who I am. Yet in a lot of ways, 2020 was a follow-through of a trajectory my life was already tracing. In my social life I am naturally open and trusting, but in recent years I have been prioritizing a tighter circle of friends — pledging loyalty to my ride-or-dies and denying the riff-raff. 2020 took that to an extreme as socializing became perilous and online interaction exhausting. When I wasn’t living at my parents house, I also became more independent, which has been a trend for the past four years, too. I worked daily for a clinical research job from home, cooked for myself, paid bills, maintained our little home with friends from college. I complain that this pandemic took a lot away from me, but in truth my life has blessfully remained quite stable.
Hey there. Even as December 31st confronts me face-to-face, I still feel at a loss of words for this year. But maybe music will help.
But of course, this wouldn’t be “piece of caustic” without a critique of how something came about. And as a long-time Spotify user, Spotify’s new tactics AREN’T going to go unnoticed. Unlike previous years, your “Wrapped” is unable to be viewed on desktop. Instead, trying to open the analysis on desktop prompts you to download the mobile app. For the purposes of functionality, nostalgia, and trying to make uploaded photos on WordPress look pretty, I dislike this. Spotify is best enjoyed on desktop. There, you can scroll through long playlists, see a bunch of things at once. Meanwhile, on mobile, the app is only bearable with Premium’s on-demand streaming.
Waist-deep in the relaxing, lethargic ooze that is called Winter Break, I’m blinking at the realization that the next chapteris right in front of our noses. Before it’s too late, I better recap my life since I last posted, and jot down some expectations for the next year.
My life has pleasantly lined up so that Wednesday marks more than a new year or decade, but also a new phase of my life. As someone in the Class of 2020, next year I will be graduating from college, taking my gap year, and applying/(getting in?) to medical schools. After that is the rest of my career until I retire.
But as much as pre-professionalism occupies my mind, I am keenly aware that I have grown in ways that a resume can’t encapsulate. I think I have had my most stable year thus far because I am finally embodying better confidence, perspective, and contentment in my everyday life. Even though I haven’t been attending therapy this year, I couldn’t have gotten to this point without supportive friends and family. It also helps that, with the privilege of my position in society, I’ve passed the challenging checkpoints of my career path on the first try (pre-med classes, MCAT).
Even after studying for the MCAT all summer, there was still an adjustment to school starting. From reuniting with the farmers market, overcoming my new STEM classes, and catching up with my roommates, I’d say this month was a success!