Lessons from 2022: From the Pathetic to the Great

Addressing my fears and need for approval

Dani Mini
5 min readDec 31, 2022


woman at beach in front of sunset
Image taken by my spouse Cesar R. and used with his permission

I had a hard time deciding how to structure this list. My first thought was to start with the great and end with the pathetic, to then conclude with how I would do better or different in 2023. But the pathetic is always more relatable, especially if, like me, you’re keenly aware of how full of it we humans tend to be, every last one of us convinced we’re at the center of the universe and that the universe cares about us specifically. We aren’t. It doesn’t.

I’ve opted to begin with the pathetic, then, because I’m a typical self-centered human who finds pondering the pathetic transformative. It helps me know myself and be a version of myself I like more.

The Pathetic

My need for approval is concerning.

Have you ever found yourself checking your social media of choice multiple times a day, far more than you know is healthy? Of course you haven't! You’re mature and don’t need that kind of affirmation based on images showing a curated segment of your life. Moreover, you’re not even likely to be on any social media seeing as you have no time for that nonsense.

Turns out I’m not like you. I’m immature and foolish. I found myself shamefully caught up on my Instagram and Mailchimp stats a few times this year. I’d enjoy little dopamine hits when my checks showed lots of likes and views. When the check didn’t deliver, I’d feel disappointed and ridiculous. When the checking became compulsive, my need for approval felt pathetic.

Bottom line: I’m not immune to the lure of social media. I’m as prone to its addictive power as any teenager.

I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life!

Is that pathetic when you’re 53 years old? Or is it just weird?

To be clear, it’s not that I’m trying to figure out the rest of my life in every way. I feel zero confusion about my family life, for instance. But the way things look, I may not be able to be a preschool special education teacher always. My back won’t take it. Plus, assuming I need to work until I’m 70+, I would love a new act for at least one decade…



Dani Mini

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