2020 in Review: Recalibration

Writing this blog, in general, is equal parts comforting and frustrating. Writing this set of blogposts is the same. Since 2015, the blog has been a huge part of my life. There’s daily narratives and internal monologues interspersed with attempts at writing fiction and social commentary. At the end of every year, however, there has been reflection, and with it, the opportunity to review an entire year thematically and examine what the year that has gone by has been.

It feels insufficient to capture 2020 through ten posts. I push on because this blog is my personal tapestry, and stories deserve to be woven in. This year, for me, has been all about recalibrating. Not resetting, mind you. Just the art of remarking what the standard is. The next ten days on this blog will recognize that in different spheres of my life. Today is about providing the broader outline for those posts.

In writing this series of posts, I recognize that my voice and my experiences are ones of privilege insofar I have had the opportunity to recalibrate. The impact of the pandemic has been disproportionate not exclusively because of nature, but equally because of inconsiderate human intervention. The pandemic is not over, but my aspiration remains that when we figure out a solution, to contain the spread and to cure, as a human species, we are more empathetic individuals and a more empathetic society.

It is easy to forget how much has transpired since January 1, 2020 given the dominant role that SARS-CoV-2 has played. Everything else appears to be sidelined, with January, February and March (Q1) pretty much being sidelined to the smallest part of this year’s history textbook. Telling this year’s story fairly however, in each of our personal histories, I think, deserves an acknowledgment of those three months in equal measure. So that’s where I will start.

The beginning of the year saw me return to University for my final semester of being an undergraduate law student. Having made various applications for postgraduate education, I returned knowing that I had given myself the best opportunity to continue my legal studies, but I wasn’t sure where I would be after June. I was determined at that time to enjoy every last minute on campus, with the people who were my closest friends. Little did I know I would make new ones. In my final semester at University, I met someone I can safely call one of my best friends from Gujarat. The dominant narrative that played out in my head is, how do I use this remaining time well? How do I take as much away from the experience as I can? Having spent four years giving, it only felt fair to think about that one question. I explored and started taking piano lessons and meeting friends in the city more frequently. I ran in different parts of the twin cities and ate at new places, and slowly but surely began to tick things off the bucket list that had built up over four years.

I was on a flight to Bengaluru, my home, three days after receiving a conditional offer from the University of Cambridge. My mother, one day prior, had flown out from Mumbai to Dubai. Originally our intention was for me to stay in Gandhinagar itself, but that was unviable. Getting to Dubai was ruled out because I had forgotten to carry my passport, at the start of the academic semester, from Bengaluru. In January, my mother and I had flown to Bengaluru together, and she kept my passport. I just forgot to take it from her, and in so doing, ended up treading the path that led to six months staying in my house, alone before relocating countres.

When it quickly became apparent I was in Bengaluru for the long haul, I began to think about several things. Suddenly I had 24 hours to myself. No University commitments, no social life commitments. No commitments at all. 24 hours*7 days for an unforeseeable number of weeks. After four and a half years of things eating away at any routine I tried setting for myself, this was heavenly.

The next six months is when the recalibration happened. In deciding where my time went, in deciding how each of the 24 hours got spent, what I found myself doing was slowly and certainly answering how I wanted to use my life. The opportunity and privilege to do this shines through in that I was able to make that decision, every hour, consistently, devoid of external pressures that others face. This doesn’t diminish my own challenges, but it certainly provides some perspective about how we magnify or amplify our lifes’ own challenges internally.

I’m an optimistic person who likes putting silver linings on things, but the pandemic shouldn’t be perceived that way, so I won’t be putting a positive spin on it at all. It remains a devastating, brutal part of our lives. In the next ten posts, I hope to outline in what ways spending six months alone at home has impacted the way I think about things, ranging from the personal to the professional. At the end of it, as always, will be a post investigating what these changes mean for me in 2021.

If you choose to follow along, then I hope you enjoy it.

As always, I remain grateful.

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