2019 Rewind

On 31st December 2018, I picked Tarot cards with one of my best friends. The cards told me I will:

  • Get out of my comfort zone and creative rut (did that when I quit my job of three-and-a-half years)
  • Take care of myself better (did that when I finally decided to take medication for my depression and anxiety), and
  • Find love (LMAO)

I am here a decade after I started this blog. I was 16 and blogs were cool then. People actually read stuff on the internet. Cute. Today, I am 26 and sitting in my bed, doing exactly what I thought I would be doing at this age — living in Bombay and getting paid to work on the internet, a little less depressed.

Of course, I have new problems now. I am out of love and I crave intimacy. I don’t feel physically healthy. I feel like I should be taking better care of my finances. I feel lost at my job that in a new industry that I didn’t dream of being in. It’s not ideal. But I keep thinking to myself about how I just don’t have the problems I was begging to be rid of at the beginning of this decade… or even at the beginning of 2019.

It makes me… grateful.

It’s been 10 years since I started noting down what I learned at the end of the year and it made me laugh when I read what I had taken away from 2010:

You are eventually stuck with yourself. The saddest worst and happiest best of yourself is revealed only to the self. No one can or should get that. In a world where social networking is bringing the walls down, these simple things are like the room you can go back to and call Home.

It’s funny not just because I believe this even harder at 26 than I did at 17. It’s also making me smile because I haven’t believed harder in community healing than I do now.

India is on edge right now. Home doesn’t feel like home anymore because I don’t feel secure here anymore. In times like these, I turn to my friends and my chosen family to help me understand and process what is happening. We only heal when we build each other up. We have been torn down so much by the systems that generations before us built and here we are, bringing it all down. We have shoulders to cry on and shoulders to lift us up when we need it. None of this is possible in isolation.

I needed my friends and chosen family to be there for me to do that for me. I needed to do that for them to understand why we need it so much.

I have been lucky to have friends to call home in the last 10 years. Some friendships carried me through only the time that they were needed in my life. Some friendships lasted me so long that they’re now family. Some friendships lasted longer than they should have. But they’ve all taught me that I cannot do this alone.

Sometimes, you need help. And it’s okay to ask for it.

At the end of 2010, I also did not think I would be the kind of person to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell people I liked exactly how I felt. As anxiety-inducing as the moment, I have done it over and over in the last 10 years only to be rejected or to be met with an awkward pause and an “Oh.”

I did that again literally two days before I wrote this. I sent the risky text and threw my phone aside, crying. I was rejected again, sure. But I spoke to him. And as I did, I joked about how I’ve had a 100% rejection rate when it comes to telling people I like them.

And he said, “Sure, till you don’t.”

It struck me then that we, as a race, refuse to take risks when the rate of failure is as high as it is with dating. It’s a 99% failure rate. Till one person says yes.
And yet, we keep trying.

Even for someone like me who hates taking risks, I do this every time. And the more I do it, the more I am convinced that it’s the right thing to do. To just tell people how you feel.

Because all kind of love, whether returned or not, is worth the risk.

Take the risk.

And regardless of whether the cards were right, knowing you are deserving of a world of affection will get you just that.

I love you.

thank u, next: 2018

I’m here.

That’s most of what there is to it every year, isn’t it.

I’m here and I’m alive.

This year, though, I am a little worn down, a teensy bit wary, and incredibly exhausted. I have been seeing everyone’s highlights from the past year and I feel defeated by the wave of gratitude, lessons, and learnings.

Did I really live this year at all if I felt none of those things? How could this have been the slowest and yet the oddest blur I have lived through? I understand that time is relative, but how much?

I started this post thinking I’ll actually list the lessons I learned and the many many things I am grateful for. But, I am just as annoyed at the microsopic view of everyone’s lives I am getting on a macro basis and I almost want to save this for my journal.

Am I writing this to prove to you that I am more than my Instagram story? Or am I here to remind myself that I am more than the nights I spent crying myself to sleep? Being a child of the internet, I have spent so much time living my life out here. I gave so much of myself to the world — just to be seen. And now, I am trying so hard to not let myself show through the cracks in my words. It’s almost as if the layers have peeled too far to let you know that there is actually a person under all of this.

There is a person who dropped a toxic friendship. I also am the person who had to undo every single pattern that the friendship put me in. I am the person who cried more than she laughed this year. I am the person who projected her grief on to Ariana Grande because it’s all I thought I had. I am the person who was afraid to even tell their friends that there is more to me.

There is also the person who achieved her biggest goal for the year. There is also the kid who held on to her parents because it was the only form of unconditional love she thought she had. There is the person who slept (slightly) better because crying does that to you, I guess. There is the person who’s still healing.

This person is more cynical, unhealthier, and barely trudging towards the new year as if it’s going to change things.

But, it just might.

The past year has been a book that needed to end as soon as possible. So I’m shutting it down.

I’m here and I’m alive.

2017

I entered the year not knowing what I wanted to do with it. Only that I wanted to end it well. I knew I wanted to make this about loving myself more than anything. But, I didn’t know anything else.

I started the year working and I worked hard all year round. The past two years have shown me that I knew nothing about hardwork. I knew nothing about really wanting my work, and the people I work with, to do well. I didn’t know what it was like to really feel success and failure, and seek it actively. My work gave me a refuge, but also gave me the confidence that I could be a lot more than my imagination. I cannot wait for the future. And that is the most hopeful I have been about my life.

I could attribute that hopefulness to the fact that I see my future very differently from when I did a year back — or even six months ago. I wanted the home, someone to love, a dog and a lot of money. That’s it. Now, when I see my future, the house has just me and the dog. Sure, I am not lonely. But, I am the universal definition of alone. However, I am not unhappy with this image of my future. I am grateful for the realisation that I don’t need someone to love to feel love. That freed me.

I am grateful to the men who got me to that realisation. I am grateful for the “no” and grateful they will never be “what if” anymore. I am grateful for the chance to unlearn what I thought was love, but really wasn’t. I am grateful for not letting myself stay deluded. I am grateful for the rules I broke and the new ones I made. I am grateful for the nights I spent crying to myself and coming clean on the other side of them, starting work all over again.

Now that I am free of all the space that love occupied inside me and over me, I feel lighter. I say this with a wide smile on my face and tears in my eyes. I took charge of my body and loved it a little more. I lost some weight and started enjoying exercise. I spent lesser time in bed and more time feeling at home in my home and my body. After seven years of restless sleep, I learnt to sleep soundly through the night. I learned to love selectively, but love anyway. I learned to care less and fight for what I care about. I made fewer friends, but I made them to keep for life. I loved my parents a little more and appreciated the work they put into raising me. I learned that while words mean a lot, they could be ridiculously empty too. Trust yourself to know better. Don’t trust others to always tell you who they are. But, when they do and if you don’t like it, step away.

I am grateful to the women who stood with me, sat down with me, lay down with me and held on to me when I couldn’t. Every single woman who taught me that I have a voice and I need to use it when I am unhappy or when I am happy or when I want to sing or laugh out loud (LOUDEST). Thank you to all the women in my life for making me realise how goddamned amazing we are as a people. Thank you for making me love my femininity more, for making me love my own company and the company of my female friends more.

But, you know what I am most grateful for? In the last few hours of this year, I am doing exactly what I love: writing, listening to music, and singing to myself.

I learned every single day, and I don’t want to stop. I cannot stop feeling the sun shine on me.

2016: The Year I Realised My Father Was Right

On New Year’s Eve last year, I was holding myself together and crying bitterly in my father’s helpless arms. I felt like I had failed and wasted the previous two years of my life in a job that I didn’t really enjoy but felt like I was obliged to stay in.

Dad sang me to sleep, saying that next year will be different. I woke up in 2016 with my eyes swollen and my head heavy, but my heart lighter. I resolved to get out of my shitty job as quickly as I could.

A week in, I was back on my couch, inconsolably weeping before I could leave for work, my father on the phone line and my mother frantically pacing the living room because she didn’t know what to do with a crying mess. After five hours of crying, I got an email for my dream job.

The rest of the year has been a blur of working hard, doubting myself and unlearning everything I had ever learnt about hard work. But, that meant every little achievement felt like a battle won. My life centered around my work in the best way I could have imagined and I also spent my last day of the year volunteering to work at a job I genuinely love.

This year taught me to trust my father in that regard, I guess. He was right. I would be okay.

Another lesson he taught me was that food and sleep were the best things in the world, barring none. I should have believed him when he told me that three years ago. 2016 taught me that the pursuit of good food that nourishes my heart and body and a good night’s sleep were all I really needed to feel okay. No amount of romance, sex, alcohol or motivational speeches ever matched up to what good food and sleep did for me.

My father also taught me that love was not the best thing in the world because it was an other worldly feeling. I spent the year chasing that all-elusive feeling and realising all over again there was more love in a moment spent over the phone in comfortable silence than in my romcoms. There was more love in holding my best friend’s hand as we crossed the road and talking over a beer. There was more love in sitting on the beach on my birthday and telling my best friend how I just want to hold my dog. There was more love in sitting on the floor and mourning my cat’s death. There was more love in sipping on wine while sitting alone in my living room. There was definitely more love in writing, reading, singing and dancing.

This year was the best. This year was also the worst.

But, this year showed me a different kind of love everyday. It showed me love always wins — even if in small doses, but it always does.

Breaking it down and building it up — The Year-End Analysis Returns

I will start with the cliché. Time waits for none. As I begin dissecting this year and all the things that passed me by, I am glad I can say I am quite okay with most of it. That is as honest as I can be about my fast-vanishing optimism.

Continuing in that vein, I anchored shows in a studio, did the news like I wanted to (almost), finally found out what it is like to pass out and get my head cracked open, graduated again, got a job that gives me the sort of freedom that makes me wonder if life is spoiling me, wrote a lot, made new friends, got rid of the bad ones, remembered why I love the old ones, got closer to my probably finally getting over The Boy, met new boys and learnt the value of being busy on a bad day.

On the flipside, I screwed up and doubted my abilities on a daily basis, hit my head hard enough for them to chop my hair off and was out of action for a week, got a job that makes me wonder what I am doing with my life on bad days, realised I cannot love someone unconditionally without loving myself, realised that no one deserves a slap in the face when they love with their hearts wide open, that some friends are not permanent, your parents are not always going to be looking out for you and that there is no way out once you become an adult.

There is no way out.

You have to live with yourself, so you might as well make the choices you are pretty sure you won’t regret later. Even if you do regret them, know that you probably will not leave the building without a lesson.

I feel quite hard-hearted when I say that I have finally learnt to shut off the one voice in my head that told me to hold on to The Boy. But, some things are only as real as we want them to be. Only one of us thought it was real. So, we turned the page again. This chapter ends here. For now.

As someone who has always planned her life, this year proved to me over and over that passion is unplanned. I will find happiness in the most unlikely places and it’s not going to look like a lot of fun, but it works. I am lost, but only starting to find myself. Thankfully, age is on my side.

We are all only as beautiful as we allow ourselves to be. So, guess what. You look great in that dress. PUT IT ON.

I’m putting my dress on too. It’s a heavier heart and a more forced smile. But, at least I will be having fun. Or so I tell myself.