I have often wondered what it is about a new year, that makes us want to change things (sometimes even quite drastically) and turn over a new leaf. In fact, is there any point of waiting for the 1st of every year to make changes, when some of them can be technically made at any point? I suppose in some ways, it’s a psychological factor - sort of us wanting to erase the past, sometimes learn from it and start on a fresh page.
https://twitter.com/iwrotethose/status/941703067249938432So, as we prepare to flip the pages of the calendar and welcome another year, I've decided to jot down 17 reasons why the year was a sharp learning curve for me and what I've learnt.
Self-love is important. No, I don’t mean to the point of narcissism or selfishness, but to the extent that you must stop *always* putting others before yourself. It’s a thin line at times, but it is also about you investing some time and effort in yourself. Self-Love is about having a healthy mindset, balance and being confident. It is also a reminder to yourself that you matter. Even though there will be days when you absolutely feel like you don’t. I learnt that the hard way this year.
I said it last year and I say it again. Perhaps with a bit of renewed vigour. Reading slumps exist. And sometimes they last for a really long time - for instance, mine lasted for over 17 months. But eventually the ‘dry spell’ will end. You just have to remember not to beat yourself up about it. Also, perhaps don’t try too hard - pick up silly books, short books, comics. Anything works. Make some dedicated time for reading. But most of all, do not compare your reading list with someone else’s. Yes, it’s difficult, especially when everyone flaunts their number of books read this year. But remember that the objective is to read, not flaunt. At the end of 2016, I’d read a grand total of 4 books. This year it’s gone up to 9. Yay me!
Depression is something that can hold anyone in its grip, at any time. I too have been guilty of dismissing it at times as ‘not-so-severe’ illness. But all through 2017, I’ve seen it manifest in various forms, and it is really complicated. But I’ve also realised something. You will always find people who stand by you, no matter what. Yes, some days are certainly darker than others. But with a little support, you can see the light again.
2017, much like its younger siblings 2016/15, has continued to teach me important lessons about people in general. By no way has it been an easy year, and I’ve lost a few people who I had thought were friends. Of course, I’ll put my hand up and say that I am responsible in part of that too, but at some point, you need to say ‘Enough’. Enough now. It’s amazing how someone who was a mere stranger at the start of the year is now more than that, and vice versa. There’s only so much negativity and toxicity that we can all take. After a point, you really need to stop worrying about ‘being nice’ and go about your business.
If there’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed more than writing this year, it has to be photography. I’ve always been a photo hobbyist, but the past year has helped me discover that it helped me express my thoughts much better than I possibly could using any other medium. Which is weird on many levels, because I’d always thought the same thing about writing. Truth be told though, I don’t see writing and photography as two separate entities, but as an extension of the core medium of creatively expressing. Or expressing creatively. Plus, it has at times helped me with what some of us called ‘writer’s block’, as some of my long-wound Instagram captions can certify. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to add an add-on section to this blog, tentatively titled ‘I Took Those’. I’m also open to suggestions if you think the title should be something else - see, I listen to my readers.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that I’ve made over the recent years, particularly 2017 (and the latter half of 2016) has been that I almost completely stopped writing fiction. The original decision was not to put any more fiction on the blog, but as some wise souls have pointed out, I am not writing fiction at all. Anywhere. And that’s bothered me. Perhaps the other ‘unknown’ fact is that despite having given people enough gyaan about believing in their own writing and such, I’ve never truly been entirely convinced that I am a good enough storyteller. But despite the fact that I’ve not been writing any new fiction, I am eternally grateful for a lot of people (incl. fellow bloggers and friends) who have periodically dug up my old work, read, commented and given me feedback about my stories. And more importantly, a lot of them told me that they’ve missed my stories. You know what? I have too. So 2018 is going to be a year of stories.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m a foodie. Hold on, foodie isn’t the right phrase. I savour food. Sometimes a bit too much. I have a sweet tooth, a meat tooth, and whatever other ‘toothy’ adjective you add will not suffice. But the biggest learning this year has been that my health is important, and I should be able to figure out a way to get fit and remain there. Experiments have been ongoing for the past month or so. I’m optimistic about switching to a more healthier lifestyle - one that can be managed with the numerous other health and sleep conditions that I have. Fingers crossed, but I intend to make health my priority. (Wait, did someone say cake?)
It’s been a painful realisation, but I now understand and state for the record that ‘Work-From-Home’ is not for everyone. While it definitely wasn’t a learning from this year alone, I’ve had more time to reflect on it. There is this general misconception that WFH is this amazing gift that lets you do whatever you want and get away with it. At least that’s what it appears like on paper. The reality though, is that WFH also means that you are also working around home. Because inevitably you will get distracted often, get called for various things, and eventually feel like you’ve been working around the clock. Of course, there are people who organise their time so efficiently that they don’t miss a beat - but I’ve discovered that it is probably not for me.
I’ve been told by some of my closest friends that I don’t listen enough and that I zone out. While a part of it is a ‘health’ thing, I’ve also come to the terms with the fact that I seem to jump to conclusions quite quickly. Especially when it comes to social media discussions. And of course, the trouble with this is that I also seem to judge people sometimes without actually knowing what their side of the story is. Yes, it’s going to be difficult to reprogram me, but hey, we have to try. And I'm glad that it's starting to work.
I sort of hang my head in shame with this one. Despite all my best attempts this past year to not yell, I have been out-of-control a number of times in 2017. It has definitely been a little less than 2016, but I’ve been fighting the urge to yell more times than previously. So it seems like more things have triggered by my yelling this year than the previous one, although I haven’t gone through with all of them. It’s been a difficult road, but I’m going to keep at it. More so because the people who are the receiving end are usually my family, friends and my little one. And they all deserve better.
I confess - I’ve procrastinated a lot this year. Certainly a lot more than I should have. I’ve cited reasons (some genuine, some made up) for not doing or achieving things that I said I would set about to do. In fact, I have often said that an apt quote to sum up my life some days could be:’ Just do it. Tomorrow’. And this year I’ve paid the price for it. Quite heavily in fact. I won’t deny that there seems to be a part-manufacturing defect that makes me want to procrastinate, but it’s an aspect that I’ve started working on and I believe it’s time to relinquish my crown and throne as ‘The King of Procrastination’ and give it to a more worthy person. It’s time I get to it; before it gets to me.
Blood may be thicker than water but pure water is an elixir like no other. In case you’re still reeling from the terrible metaphoric play on words, I’m talking about friends. Some of you may already know the fact that I am an only child. So I’ve always tried my best to appreciate every friendship that I’ve made over the years. Sometimes, even to the point of making the so-called friend uncomfortable. I’ve been through a lot of this past year, especially on the mental and physical health front, and I’m eternally grateful for the handful of friends who’ve stood by me. Even when perhaps I’ve not been there for them. I promise - I’ll do better.
2015 was a great year for me on many fronts. Particularly in terms of writing and recognition. The previous two years, not so much. And when that happens, you start to fall into a rut. You start questioning your abilities, the fact if you’ve really deserved those accolades and recognition - after all, we are only human. But this year, I’ve learnt to savour my achievements and wins. No matter how small or big. Because I’ve worked damn hard for them. Yes, some achievements are harder to take stock of, especially when they’re not always tangible and you don’t have an award or a certificate to show for it. But remember, let nobody take your wins away from you. Not even that little thing we all have called ‘self-doubt’.
Have you ever found yourself being flustered by the lack of time? I have. In fact, many times, this year. While I admit that a part of it was due to my ‘crown’ in point 11, a major chunk of the blame goes to that fact that I let time get the better of me, rather than me taking advantage of the time I had. From sleep to reading to even finding time to relax - I’ve been terribly disorganised this year. I am not under the false notion that I’m going to suddenly wake up in 2018 and be so organised that I may win the Monica Geller award for Organisational Skills (no, it doesn’t exist!) - but I will make better use of my time. And that includes some social media downtime too.
This year has had a rather steep uphill curve when it comes to parenting. Parenting is tough. But it’s also a choice. And it’s most definitely not a profession.Yes, it’s definitely had its pros, but I’ve reached a point where I’ve started to feel like parenting is being put on a pedestal. You heard it right - it shouldn’t be made to be thought of as something sacrificial. . Most of us who’ve decided to become parents chose to be one(exceptions are there, of course). And once that card is dealt, you play, you play it the best way you possibly can. I love my son to bits and will do everything in my power to make sure his needs are met. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll *always* sacrifice everything I love to do to just attend to his whims and fancies. No, I’m not judging anyone here.
It’s a fact that I’ve known for a while, but this year it sort of slapped me right across the face. I’m a serial hoarder. I have this reluctance to let go of objects sometimes. Okay, I use sometimes rather loosely - we discovered objects/ receipts and other things dating back to 1999 from a cupboard. And the ugly truth is that we’ve moved at least 6 houses in that time, and it’s travelled all along with me. I suspect a part of the reason is that I feel that I may need some of it at some point in the future and I don’t want to then look back at it and wonder, ‘Damn, I should have kept that!’. Which may also explain why I have a medium sized suitcase full of cables, wires and chargers. Including a couple of a Sony Ericsson phone, they stopped making almost 15 years ago. I think I need therapy.
Shit happens. Wash and move on. This perhaps aptly sums up my past two years. I know that on the surface it looks like I have everything going, but it’s not been a walk in the park. There was a point earlier this year that I actually contemplated running away before everything that could potentially go wrong, did. Of course, not many know about it - but it didn’t stop me from worrying about it, especially when a lot of them were things that I could not control. Eventually, I learnt to let go. Or rather, I’m learning to. The universe operates on the concept of balance. Not everything will always be hunky dory, or perpetually shit, but you sometimes have to go through the crap to become better.