2020 - Year in Review
If you've read my 2019 post, you know how hopeful I was about 2020. Unfortunately, as we all know, 2020 turned out to be a disaster for humanity.
Before the pandemic
I wrote the 2019 blog post at the end of November. Which was why I didn't mention that I came 2nd in InCTF later that December. I was really happy about that and it helped boost my confidence to further pursue computer security.
After the CTF ended, I went back home for a week and returned to my college in January. Even at this point, I don't think there was much news about the seriousness of the coronavirus. It was only in March that the college started taking precautions. This was soon followed a country-wide lock-down, followed by me going back home.
During the lock-down, things were not going so well for me personally. I was extremely bitter due to certain events that had transpired, and my mental health was a wreck. I was in this vicious cycle of negativity and was stressed out all the time. College went on as usual in online mode.
After a long stretch of whining and wallowing in self-pity, I learnt one of the most important lessons that this year had to teach me: that I needed to accept certain things as they were instead of dissecting them. Not because I was "right", but because there's no such thing as right or wrong. Sometimes things happen for no reason.
There are a lot of things in life that are completely out of our control. We can't work our way towards them, rationalize their existence, or blame them. We can only accept them, and move on. This way, we are left with the energy to change the things that we can actually change.
This too shall pass
I've started taking better care of my health by doing yoga, walking for long stretches and making better eating choices (though there is a lot more room for growth).
Recently, I've started reading books again. I have fallen in love with Murakami and Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov is a must read). Sometimes I wonder why books have a much better aftertaste than movies or TV shows, even though they're both stories but through different mediums.
I also spent a few minutes everyday learning Japanese through Duolingo. It's not much - I'd rank myself somewhere in the JLPT N4 level - but now I've got an idea of the tremendous amount of effort I'd have to put in to get fluent.
This year I delved into a broad range of categories in computer security and I especially loved low-level hacking. I've decided to start developing an expertise in it.
My love for CTFs is still evergreen. I wish to play many more CTFs next year and up my skills. Since my college ends next year, I'll also be starting with actual work and I'm looking forward to that.
This year made me realize that I have a lot of work to do on my physical and mental health as well. For that, I'll be focusing on several things such as: eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly, spending time with friends, reading lots of books and getting better at Japanese.
That sounds like a lot, but I've already been doing these things all this time. It will just take more effort to make them deeply embedded habits, so I'll be working on them one step at time.