2019: Year in Review (365)

It’s tough to tell you about my year because I’m still processing everything that transpired. However, for me to adequately be able to move forward with all the things I’ve gained in the last one year, it is perhaps time to write about things.

In summary, it would be inappropriate for me to label this year as anything but a year of learning.

At the start of the year, I faced the biggest challenge I had faced in my life till that point – being forcibly separated from my parents thanks to a lack of valid travel documentation (and not knowing about it till the very last minute). I make it sound a lot worse than it actually was, but the feelings aren’t exaggerated. I traveled to Mangalore 3 nights in a row on a bus to get my passport application processed, and learned about my own identity in the process – and how much documentation mattered. Little did I know then that I would learn this in a more selfless manner toward the end of the year, but at that point, all I wanted to do was to be with both my parents.

Over the next two months, I learned about the value of letting people into my life a little more. I’m an extremely private individual, which is at odds with the fact that I maintain a public blog on the internet which chronicles my day-to-day. The truth of things is that I share this blog and these thoughts on social media that don’t traditionally feature a large portion of my friends. I find it difficult to communicate my exact emotions at any given point of time, and I am inadequate at directly expressing emotions which society has deemed to have negative connotations: anger is one of them, sadness and disappointment are others. I invited a friend of mine to Dubai with me, and then invited friends over to my house in Bangalore. This was the first time I was hosting people from University and that allowed me to share a big part of my identity and my story with them, a feeling not like one I’ve known before. I was grateful for that at the time.

I also learned about the value of my writing, and how much it motivated my parents. My mother began to write this year, which ended up with us publishing an anthology of our poetry and presenting it to our biggest fan, my father on a birthday celebration we hosted for him.

I also learned about the importance of learning to be a background person. I’m usually very front-and-center in the things that I do, and I really hate missing out on experiences I’m meant to be a part of. This year I couldn’t travel to a moot court competition I was on a team for, but I learned the art of supporting from distance – of learning to be useful in the best way I could be, and of being a true team sport. I’ve been an okay team player so far, but I think my teammate skills rose in value this year.

Ultimately, through the summer months, I learned about independence of a new kind. I lived and traveled across Europe, cooking food and working daily. Not only did I get to experience the joy of eating food cooked by your own hand, but the art of solo travel. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I got to work someplace I wanted to work right from my first year at University, and it made my dreams come true.

Then September happened. In the first week of September, amidst all the things that gave me the most joy for the last four years at University, I committed an egregious error in interpersonal relations and spaces. I made a mistake I have been working on fully understanding and adequately confronting. My remorse isn’t something I would want to express over text. It’s safe to say that none of it should have happened, and nobody should have had to go through what some individuals went through as a result. As with mistakes, this had consequences. These consequences have given me the opportunity to spend time reflecting on everything in my life. I sought out therapy and assistance from professionals to help me process things, spoke to a very limited group of individuals who offered more perspective on what transpired, and began to think. Long and hard. I think the most disappointing thing for me was that I knew that this shouldn’t have taken place – so when I found out it had, it devastated me.

September also saw one of the biggest disappointments in my professional life: missing out on an opportunity to sit for the final interview rounds of a scholarship I genuinely felt I had a shot at.

Over the winter, all I’ve learned is the value of family, and time – and strangely, family-time. My parents and I discussed everything that transpired, and they left me to my own devices as I worked on self-improvement. I learned how much clarity time gives, and how much more perspective it offers. With family time, I had the opportunity to spend two months with my parents, both of them together – something I haven’t done since I was 11 years old. This decade has been trying, challenging, and unique, but ending it as a family is giving me so much joy today.

Today, the events of September are what drive me each morning. The days aren’t the same: some are tougher, some are easier, but September has become a personal turning point. I’m not used to making mistakes. Slipping up – in any capacity, has not been a feeling of familiarity in my life. I’ve been used to being responsible and dependable.

September changed that for me, because I was irresponsible, and what occurred has done damage to several of my friendships: some irreparable, I know. I wish I didn’t have to learn what I learned through what occurred, because I wish none of it had ever happened. That’s easy to say post-facto. But today, that drives me, because I’ve understood how disappointed I can be in myself, in terms of extent, and how tough it is to overcome that disappointment (I’m still getting there). I understood what I stand for and who I want to be as a person a lot better now, more than I ever have before.

It’s likely that there are things that I won’t recover, but this year has taught me that living in the past is an issue. Not just in terms of the negatives, but also in terms of the positives. It’s easy to inflate the things that have gone well in the past, and it’s equally easy to create expectations on the basis of past happenings. None of that, however, has an impact on the present, nor on the future. What I’ve learned is that it’s important to have memories, and important to remember things that take place in the past, only to move yourself forward. It’s far more important to live in the present, in the day-to-day, and look ahead to the future. It’s all I’ve got.

This is what I’m taking away this year: that I’ve been good, not great. That I’ve been terrible, but not irreparable. That I am, and I know that I can be better than what the first week of September was. And that I know I will be.

There are only two things left to say, things I’ve said before. I’m unconditionally apologetic, and I’m incredibly grateful.

2019: Three Hundred and Sixty Four

I can’t believe I’m very close to actually posting 365 daily things on the blog this year. I’ve run out of juice in terms of stories to tell, and that makes me feel like Haroun’s father from Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a book I wholeheartedly recommend you to try reading. The journey is worth it.

2019: Three Hundred and Sixty Three

One of the things I’m going to miss about being at home with my parents is the freedom they’ve given me to be “at home”. I’ve actually just spent the last two months relaxing in a way I don’t think I ever had in the last four years, and I’m incredibly grateful to them for not populating this trip with scores of adventures outside. Living close to a mall and a supermarket, while being in a community with lots of walking space has meant that excursions, where felt like/needed took place with a lot of ease, and not too much thinking. It’s odd, but I think that after my first semester at University, this is going to be the semester in which I miss home to some extent. It’s given me everything I needed, even the things I thought I would not need.

2019: Three Hundred and Fifty Nine

Today’s been a day of organization and reflection. We’re pretty much into the final week of 2019, and all I want to be doing is setting up for the things I have planned ahead, or actually working on the things I had planned. I read a piece yesterday that was about actionables and how much productivity got curbed or sidelined by overplanning, and I think I’ve definitely been a victim of that system – rather, I’ve been gamed into thinking (sometimes with active consent) that planning things out will definitely yield better results. With creative things especially, I think I’d prefer spending time actually doing these things – for that’s where I get the most joy. Some things are best changed sooner than later. This feels like one of them.

2019: Three Hundred and Fifty Six

I think one of the delights of sharing content you find interesting, or discussing things you find interesting with other individuals is the amount of learning that gets done in the process. Today, someone I shared something with last week sent me a “related” article – because they remembered our discussion, which sparked joy.

2019: Three Hundred and Fifty Five

Recently I’ve been wondering whether the purpose of this daily blog satisfied its intent. I started it with the notion that I’d be able to type out thoughts and share them into the void on a daily basis, but very often I found myself not being in a mood to write – or putting off uploading. More recently when I was figuring things out for myself and I wasn’t in a position to share anything, I moved along to sharing clips or media from the internet. Ultimately I realized that I wanted to keep content-sharing separate from the blog, which led to the creation of the newsletter. But in any case, the redundant posting continued. Like the 353 and 354 posts. They’re basically just twitter threads. I don’t think, looking back, that they’re “worthy” of blogpost material. Nonetheless, they are a creation I’ve typed out on a given day – an exact account of my thoughts at a particular moment in time. To that end, I think it’s fair to draw a conclusion that the blog became a log – a record of things I felt deserved to be said and memorialized on this digital platform. It stopped, however, being an expression of the craft of writing, something I was desirous and serious about pursuing. It’s probably high time it goes back to that.