23 Low Stakes Personal Growth Milestones I Accomplished in 2023

Another year, another opportunity for personal growth. Did I change as a person this past year? Yeah, I think so! I had some rough months in there, but I also had some really great ones. Anyway, I’m not ready to get actually introspective and serious about the past year, so here are some low stakes things I accomplished and think I deserve kudos for.

  1. Didn’t rewatch Sharp Objects.
    I did have to go back into my memory archives and past text messages to make sure this was true, but it WAS. Proud of me but also…Jan 1, might start a rewatch of Sharp Objects
  2. Successfully transitioned my hair from a side part to a middle part. 
    This was directly inspired by the feature film M3GAN.
  3. Planned a wedding and didn’t lose my mind.
    Okay, this one was high stakes, and also I co-planned it with my lovely fiancée Kristen.
  4. Got a cat and gave him an esoteric name instead of naming him after a famous white lady like I used to do with pets.
    While Laura Dern would have been a really cute cat name, you just can’t trust any celebrities these days, and I think Timmy Tomato is a VERY CUTE NAME.
    a striped cat sitting on the author Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya who is giving him bunny ears
  5. Trained my cat to sit on command.
  6. Trained my cat to be obsessed with me.
  7. Started drinking more still water instead of only sparkling water.
    “Dentists” say this is “good for you.”
  8. Went to the dentist not once but TWICE.
  9. Turned 31.
    Sorry if you think AGING isn’t an ACCOMPLISHMENT. That seems AGIST of YOU.
  10. Purchased 10 taxidermied gator heads.
    This was for the aforementioned wedding planning. And if you’re still confused, I cannot help you.
    a French bulldog with 10 taxidermied gator heads
  11. Became really obsessed with learning about Florida history and queer history in particular.
    Sorry this is an earnest one!
  12. Perfected my carnitas recipe.
  13. Drank less coffee.
    Jk, this didn’t happen. Can you IMAGINE?
  14. Learned how to wear contacts.
    It took a while, but we got there eventually!
  15. Got really good at bowling.
    Also I learned I’m best at bowling when MAD.
    the author Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya holding a bowling ball at a bowling alley
  16. Started liking birds more (kind of).
    All birds used to be enemies, but we’re working on repairing that relationship.
  17. Started traveling with band-aids at all times after 30 years of being blister-prone.
    And by “blister-prone” I probably mean I just wear the “wrong” footwear to every function.
  18. Made an impulsive trip to attend my friend’s 30th bday.
    Yes, this actually counts as positive personal growth and not a regression to the chaos of my twenties because I think friendship is IMPORTANT and should be PRIORITIZED.
  19. Finally bought the Trader Joe’s sardine tote that for many months I said “that’s so cute” @ every time I shopped at Trader Joe’s.
  20. Got to inbox zero like one time.
    It lasted less than 48 hours, but still.
  21. Attempted more baking projects even though I am bad at baking and don’t like being bad at things.
  22. Went off grid once.
    I’m not really an off grid girly but it was indeed thrilling to be “unplugged” ugh.
  23. Finally found a go-to Indian takeout spot after moving.
    It’s the most important milestone when moving to a new city!!!!!
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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 863 articles for us.


  1. Those are great!

    I did just realize that “figuring out I’m trans and starting to transition” is kind of an ultimate “how’s that for a milestone” answer. Dang. I’m not used to having milestone years!

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