Dear 2022

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s basically 2022 now and I’m still mentally processing 2020. 

When I think back about 2021 and what it did for me as a person, it doesn’t feel like much of anything new, just a rehash of last year. It’s like they’ve merged together, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. There’s 31,536,000 seconds in a year, and I feel like I’ve wasted about 30 million of them. Not because I wasn’t being productive, because I definitely was. Aperture has made more videos this year than any other year since 2017, which is something I should be proud of, I guess?

But really, does productivity make you happier? A lot of research does indeed say that productive people tend to also be the more “happy” people you come across in daily life. 

But it goes both ways.

Being productive makes you feel accomplished, and when you feel accomplished, you want to celebrate. Whether that’s a drink at the end of the day, or going out for dinner, or just being able to go do something fun with your friends or family. It’s rewarding yourself for getting everything done during the day. But that’s exactly where our “productivity dilemma” appears.

When you go outside, it still feels like a different world compared to just a few years ago. You’re consistently reminded of our current situation from a global standpoint. Whether you care about it or you don’t is irrelevant because it’s effects are very much apparent regardless of what side you take.

I know so many of us are ready to just move on, but we can’t. We’re stuck in what seems like an infinite loop of our days.

A lot of places are still closed, you can’t really travel anywhere without feeling out of place and probably still having to jump through a ton of hoops before you can even go outside. If you don’t live at home, chances are you might not have even seen your parents more than maybe once or twice in the past year. Inflation is at its highest rate in over 30 years, so the prices of everything just keep going up and up and up, so whatever you can buy just seems to empty your pockets. It’s like every day there’s some new negative thing in the headlines, whether it’s a new variant, some famous person saying something dumb, or something similar.

But despite that, I really took a long thought about my life this year, and personally I did pretty well, and I know a lot of people feel the same way, but why do things feel so negative? Our surroundings can influence us more than we give credit, and since most of us are usually inside on either your phone or computer or TV, negativity is everywhere.

But there’s nothing like a dark year to really get you questioning what matters in life.

So for 2022, one of the things I want is to focus more on the bright side of things. Even when it’s dark, even when that light at the end of the tunnel is faint, do your best to focus on that

Also in 2022, can we all agree to just stop making live action remakes of old animated shows? They’re just never… ever as good as the original. Not everything needs a remake, sometimes old is gold.

A lot of people have grown to not trust themselves, and instead do what their friends or family or the internet tells them to do. But this is basically the opposite of what you should do. Isn’t it more advantageous to make decisions yourself, learn through experience, than to just simply judge things based on what someone else told you? Now, this doesn’t make sense for every situation. Sometimes learning from others' mistakes can get you ahead, but at the same time, maybe a “mistake” for them can be a “victory” for you. Most of the time, sticking to your own plan will, in fact, lead you to where you want to be. It’s super easy to get influenced nowadays, but your happiness will almost always be dependent on you and what you make of it. 

So in 2022, trust yourself and your gut more. Understand that you’re responsible for all of your actions, both good and bad, and reap the rewards of your own decisions. You’ll probably feel a lot better.

And despite our current situation as a species, I can only remain hopeful for the future. I remain hopeful for discovery and curiosity. In 2022, the New Horizons spacecraft will have finally completed its study of the Kuiper Belt as it ventures out into the outermost regions of our solar system. We have the World Cup taking place in Qatar and the Winter Olympics taking place in Beijing. We have all of these new cool things to look forward to, but it seems so much easier to focus on the darker side of things. 

It’s easy to get distracted in our day-to-day lives, but before you know it, “normal” has turned into something you would’ve never imagined. As our lives have changed, over 80% of people have reported events in their daily lives having gone from physical to digital, and this looks like something that is only going to continue to rise. From work to play to even religious events, our lives might as well be fully online. 

The times are changing, and if 2021 has taught me anything, it’s that change can be uncomfortable, but it’s something we all need to come to terms with. Progress is something we can’t avoid, and we aren’t the first ones to be hesitant towards change. Time is finite, and the only reason time is so powerful is because, without change, time would have no reason to exist. Because of entropy, because the world isn’t static, because every day is completely new, even if it doesn’t feel like it, time is forever pushing up against us, pressuring us through life. 

It can be… overwhelming at times, but time stops for no one. Despite how “bad” things may seem, time moves forward, and eventually, so do we. So in 2022, I also want to do more things just for the sake of doing them. Enjoying things for what they are, not because I was forced to do it or because someone else wanted me to, but because I want to do it. Lost time never returns, but future time is priceless. There’s a saying, and it goes, “every person has two lives, and the second begins when they realize they only have one.”

As terrifying as it is, it’s true. Aperture videos tend to come across as “existential,” and you know what, you have a solid point there, but it’s all in good faith. I think everyone should do their part in helping each other understand the value life has, because the thing that hurts people more than anything else is regret. Regret is a terrible feeling, and it doesn’t really just disappear, it slowly fades into the background of your life, and you have to live with it. But the more things you regret, the more it tends to weigh on your consciousness every day. I know how that feels personally, I’ve been there many times before.

It’s easy to regret or dread having done things because they didn’t turn out the way you thought they would, and I understand that, but that feeling of regret is less painful than the never-ending thought of “what if?” What if I had tried to start my own business or YouTube channel? What if I chose this college major over another? What if I actually asked that person out?

See the thing about regret is that it’s unavoidable. No one is capable of living a perfect life. No matter the size of your ego, no matter how talented you are, you make mistakes. Some are bigger than others, but they’re as inevitable as the passing of time itself. Regret is like that annoying little brother that wants to cling to your heels everywhere you go. At first, regret is really annoying, but as life goes on, you learn to live with it. Better yet, you learn to let some things go. Your brain is powerful, but it isn’t infinite. Sometimes letting things go makes space for the better things in life, the things we all are looking forward to.

You see you are changing every day as a person, but those things that happened in the past were literally the decisions of a different person. You didn’t have all the experiences you have now, you didn’t have all the knowledge you’ve gained since then, you didn’t have the perspective that the privilege of hindsight provides.

This is why I always try to tell people to go for all those things they really strive for in life. I know what it’s like to regret, but I also know how it feels to reap the rewards from taking that “leap.” That leap is what separates the dreamers from the do-ers. The leap is the moment of maximum potential pain. You, of course, could fall flat on your face. That always sucks, and that’s usually the first thing people think about, and that alone is enough to deter them from doing it. That moment of “hesitation” has killed more dreams than any strict parent, bad partner, or mean teacher ever has. 

What many people fail to consider is the opposite, what if that one thing you do really does change everything? See that’s the thing about change as well. As I said, progress and change is unavoidable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be negative changes. Life is really a coin flip. If you’re watching this video with food in your stomach, a roof over your head, and a solid family in your life, you’re doing much better than over 60% of the rest of the world. Now I know it doesn’t apply to everyone, and everyone struggles with their own issues, but it’s very easy to lose perspective in a world with 24/7 stimulation. Whether that’s you texting your friends or browsing social media or watching the news for 20 seconds and being told that the world is about to blow up, you’re constantly being fed information.

In 2022, I have a goal of reducing this amount of “input” I take in daily. It sounds weird at first, but hear me out. The less “input” you receive, the less factors go into your day-to-day life, the clearer your thoughts and decisions will be. You know how when you have a big day with an endless list of tasks to get through, you kind of freeze up and don’t really know where to begin? Now imagine that same situation, that same overwhelmed feeling, but from the perspective of your brain. If you’re constantly online and seeing how the world is 2 seconds away from imploding, while also having school work to keep up with, while also trying to keep track of your job priorities, while also trying to have a social life, while also trying to do things that make you happy personally, while also trying to prepare for your future, your brain is going to overload. 

It’s hard to stay focused on the bigger picture, and instead of that, we come back to this “infinite loop” of days we spoke about earlier. How can we ever enjoy the moment when we’re constantly focused on what’s next? How often do you have those times where you’re out with friends in a really nice setting having an amazing time and think, “this is what life is really about.” For some reason, those moments mostly seem to be experienced in hindsight, as memories, not as experiences in the moment.

We’re all a lot more similar than you’d imagine, we all have the same feelings, just at different times in different ways. And when everyone is feeling similar feelings, the world follows suit. There’s a reason why they called it the “roaring 20s” and “the great depression,” and it’s because everything and everyone is related to each other. 

Think of it like this: in 2019, a guy in China coughed, now over 5 million people have died from a brand new disease, 266 million others have been infected, and the fabric of society itself has shifted and may never return to how it was before.

Now, we all have to deal with the repercussions. You could be upset and long for a world that is all in our previous chapters, or you could look ahead to the limitless potential of the future and write that next chapter yourself. 

The past is history, the future is a mystery, but the present is entirely yours. 

In 2022, I’m opening the book and starting that next chapter myself, and I think you should too. There’s a finite number of pages in all of our books, and they all end the same way. 

But in between, the story is all yours.

- MM