2023 was great (and a shitshow)

Mihir Sahu
5 min readJan 1, 2024

I had forgotten that I wrote a post last year on this exact day until a friend messaged me a few days ago after reading it. I told them that I’d write again this year. I’ll try to address the experiences that I think most people can relate to — if I tried to summarize the entire year, we’d be here for a long time. It’s ̶2̶:̶4̶1̶ 5:02 am right now.

This year has been the hardest year of my life. What a crazy year. The most euphoric highs and depressing lows. Happiness, pride, enthusiasm, accomplishment. Heartbreak, loss, burnout, insecurities, disappointment. Is there a term for a midlife crisis in your early 20s? Trying to be good at everything because I feel that I can’t be the best at one thing, being successful at almost everything I do, but not being able to savor any of it because I’m always looking for what I can accomplish next. I’ve learned so much this year, but most of all I learned that success doesn’t guarantee happiness.

I’d like to start with my accomplishments, and what I’m proud of this year. First and foremost, I’ve expanded my knowledge into areas other than just technology — I’ve delved into the business world, and have learned a lot about leadership, management, and entrepreneurship. I started this year by becoming an intern for RippleMatch, a recruitment automation platform, and helped students find internships and jobs. Then during the summer, I interned at Chevron as a Cloud and Infrastructure intern, and I can’t express the variety of skills I gained from the experience — everything from professional development to creating an innovative culture. I also became the President of the largest computer science organization at the University of Houston, CougarCS, and learned about leadership, team building, and delegation. I then became a student ambassador for the Ion Houston, an innovation hub for startups, investors, and anyone who wants to build the future. And finally, I worked part-time for BidOut as a project manager, where I helped launch a brand-new product, Breaker19. I‘ve been told that I’ve accomplished a lot, but I still feel like it wasn’t enough. I feel like I could have done more, and better.

I also became a more mature, empathetic person this year, largely due to some of the hardships I faced that I’ll address later. I didn’t realize before this year that there’s a difference between simply being ‘nice’ and being proactively ‘empathetic’. I’ve always appreciated many people, and I’ve never really done anyone wrong, but I also never actively tried to make peoples’ lives better. I realized that I didn’t know how to care for people like I thought I did. I had this revelation when I couldn’t be there for people I cared about, and I wasn’t giving people I loved the attention that they deserved. I’m still working on this, but I’ve made progress. I notice this whenever I assist people unprompted. When they accomplish something with my help, and they appreciate it, I feel like I’ve done something important, and it’s one of the few things that makes me truly happy.

I’m proud of my tenacity. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a very optimistic view of the world and my capabilities. I’m an ambitious hacker who likes to do difficult things. I’m driven to succeed with a sense of urgency. I want to prove myself, and I want to make an impact. I want to change the norm. I know that it’s incredibly hard, and I know that I’m not the most capable person. But who is? I won’t know until I try. And I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.

Now I’d like to talk about the not-so-pleasant subjects.

I’m not happy with where I am right now. Don’t be mistaken — I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, and all the people who’ve helped me become the person I am. But I feel like I’m so busy trying to achieve something that I’m not taking time to enjoy life and savor every moment. Whenever I get a chance to stop and think, I realize that I’m kind of miserable. I used to have so much fun gaming and watching my favorite TV shows, and hanging out with my friends made my entire day. Now, I can’t do any of that without thinking about what else I could be doing with that time. I’ve slowly lost the ability to let go of ‘work’ and just focus on myself and those dear to me. I want to enjoy the time I have with those who matter, not be caught in a rat race for the rest of my life. Success doesn’t equate to happiness.

I’ve also suffered extensively from imposter syndrome and insecurities. There are times when I don’t feel like I’m doing well enough, and I can’t quite decide on what my goals are, and when I should stop working so hard. Is working hard — the ‘grind’ — the end or the means? I hope it’s not the end. I enjoy what I do, yet it makes me miserable sometimes. Is this burnout?

I experienced heartbreak and the loss of a close friend this year. Both of these were new for me — they’re just a part of growing up but I never realized how much they hurt. I feel like events that hurt you most deeply don’t ever heal completely. I vividly remember my teacher from 2nd grade using a piece of paper as an analogy: she held up a sheet of printer paper and told us that it symbolized our hearts and our feelings. She then crumpled it up and unfolded it. As much as she tried to straighten it, the fold marks didn’t go away; she concluded by telling us that when you get hurt, you never really heal fully. Despite that, I’ve seen courage and optimism in so many people. When organizing my friend’s funeral, his amazing family decided to hold a “celebration of life” with music and the sharing of fond memories to paint a complete picture of how precious he was and the impact he’d made on the world. When I have the honor of seeing people like that, I can only think, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

I realize that what I’ve written here has been largely negative, which is new for me because I’m an optimistic person. So before I end this I’d like to express what I’m thankful for.

Above all, I’m thankful for my friends and family. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them. The only reason I have any of these accomplishments is because I have time and energy to dedicate to my work, and I wouldn’t have any of that without my parents. They’re the ones who support me every day in every way, and they mean everything to me. I just need to get better at expressing it :).

I’m thankful to the people who see potential in me and allow me to grow and add value in some way.

And lastly, I’m just thankful that I have the freedom to do what I want. To express myself, to attempt to make something of myself. I’m so thankful to be in a situation where I’m worried about asking too much of myself rather than not having the opportunity to try anything at all.

If anything here stood out to you, and you feel like you’re in a similar situation, know that you’re not alone. Talk about your experiences, keep working hard, and have faith that you’ll get through these tough times.

As for me, I look forward to making 2024 a great fucking year.

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Mihir Sahu

I'm passionate about tech and business. I write about anything that I’m currently thinking about. Check out my website at mihirsahu.com.