What I Learned About Myself This Past Year

Looking forward to what comes next.

Anna Burgess Yang
5 min readJan 3, 2022


pop art illustration a winter scene through a window
Image created via Midjourney

2021 was supposed to be better than 2020… right? That was my sentiment twelve months ago, with the announcement of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine. I had so much hope that we’d finally be able to emerge from the isolated lifestyle we’d been maintaining for over nine months. I always reflect at the end of the year and what I wrote at the end of 2020 mirrored my exhaustion.

But 2021 kicked off with an insurrection. We got our vaccines in March, and our two older kids (ages 12 and 9) as soon as they were eligible. I quit my job in February, quit again in September, and my husband quit his job in August — so we were navigating a lot of changes. Toward the end of the year, it felt like things were going to be more normal in 2022… and then Omicron hit and now I’m back to anxiety and uncertainty.

Yet as I look back on 2021, I learned a lot about myself. 2020 felt like a year when I had no control over so many things: public health and safety, how my kids fared during remote learning, and how other people conducted themselves during the pandemic (i.e. defying the recommendations of science and health experts). Earlier this year, I told someone that I felt “trapped.” I held back tears as I said this, feeling all of the weight of 2020 on my shoulders.

2021 was the year I became “un-trapped.” I’m still worried about Omicron and there are still many things I can control. But I also made some huge changes in my life and couldn’t be happier with my decisions.

I set a lot of boundaries

Like many people across the scene of The Great Resignation, I said, “Not anymore” to a job I’d been at for fifteen years that no longer fulfilled me. I started at a new job in February of 2021 but then left that job at the end of September.

I thought I had work boundaries before. I have been a remote employee for most of my career and I knew how to separate work life and home life so I didn’t feel like I was “always working.” I worked reasonable hours and knew how to prioritize my family obligations.

Yet the boundaries I developed in 2021 were around my well-being, extending far beyond the hours I worked. I realized that I couldn’t be happy



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur with niche expertise. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/