Well, that worked out great!
This was a year of pleasant surprises for me. Things that I initially thought could be bad for me, turned out better than expected.
I know this might sound weird. “Isn’t 2020 supposed to be one of the worst years of our lifetime?” , you might ask.
Like most questions, the answer to this one is “It depends”. Depends on your situation, and your ability to take advantage of certain circumstances.
I am in no way denying that 2020 was a bad year. So many lives were lost, so many families destroyed, so many jobless people struggling to survive, so many people with mental health issues. COVID hit India much worse, so I definitely have no shortage of examples. Overall, this year sucked, and it will take a hot minute for us to recover from it.
But for me personally, it was a good year. Maybe even the best of my life so far. Starting right in March 2020, the pandemic forced most non-essential workplaces to work remotely, right around the time I was fantasizing about how great it would be for me to be able to sit and home and earn money. I was kind of used to working from home back in my freelance days, so it didn’t take me too long to adjust. In fact, it was a nice productivity boost for me.
My roommate moved out early in May, and I had to live alone for the rest of the year. While I was in the search for roommates, I came to enjoy living alone, and I decided that I will not actively search for roommates. Especially after me and my last roommate parted on bad terms. We were great friends, but soon I realized that he was toxic person, and I didn’t want anything pulling down my productivity.
Just like any other Indian parent, mine started to call me back home for some reason. I didn’t want to go back because I had a job here and I couldn’t work overseas, but I was starting to miss my family and my girlfriend a little too much. So, I decided to go back to India for the rest of the year. I did have to give up my job for the semester, which I wasn’t particularly fond of. But once I got home, I realized that it was a good thing that I wasn’t allowed to work overseas, because I wouldn’t have gotten enough time to do so anyways. Instead, I spent my time with family, friends, and girlfriend. I also started a side-project, which I am really passionate about, and it’s a nice way for me to work on my skills and showcase them to potential employers.
An emotional journey started for me when I went back. While I absolutely loved my girlfriend, the long-distance relationship was taking its toll on me. I just couldn’t see a way for me to stay sane for however many years we will have to stay on opposite sides of the planet. So, in early December, I broke up with her. I had been mentally preparing myself for this for a couple months, so it did not hit me emotionally as bad as I thought. However, she was hit with an emotional truck. She had a few very bad days, then some more bad days. We stopped talking after a while, and I came back to the US. I might not be completely over her yet, just because she was such a great person and I really enjoyed being with her. It’s depressing to know that life can throw such huge obstacles at you and you can never get through without sacrificing something of importance. You will have to make a really difficult decision, and then you will spend a lot of time wondering if you made the right one.
But another pleasant surprise for me was a new relationship that started in late February. A couple years ago, I met this great girl who is almost as ambitious as me, with a lot more energy and compassion that I can ever hope to achieve. We both came back to the states in January, and we started dating in late February. Coming out of a 2+ years long distance relationship, it is a nice change of pace to be able to experience a normal relationship, one where we can actually get to share a part of our lives with each other.
As soon as I came back in January, I got to continue working at my last company, but on a different project. From the beginning, I was told that this new project is a very high-profile project, and will involve quite a bit of politics, strict deadlines, high expectation, and quality work. If they were trying to make me nervous and anxious, mission accomplished. But after spending a few weeks on it, I got a good handle of everything, and it turns out that there is vast potential in this project.
Looking back at last year’s review, I set a goal of “work”. And I believe that I worked hard to take good advantage of my circumstances, and really propel myself in my personal and professional life. Of course, the work is never going to end. But I did gain quite a bit of momentum this year, thanks to all the “flourishing” I was able to do.
For me, the next logical step here would probably be to expand. Use the momentum I have built up to expand my reach, work, skills, connections, and personality. It might seem like a synonym to “flourish”, which was the theme of 2019, but in my mind, the two have really different meanings. “Flourish” was a phase where we transition from something very small and awkward to something elegant and beautiful, like a seed turning into a plant. Expansion is when the plant grows into a tree, expanding its roots and branches into the environment, and making its presence dominant and significant. As a wise man once said,
We only get one life. Might as well use it to put a dent on the universe.
Cheers, and keep up the good work!