Here we go... let's see what I can do!
As I finished writing my last year in review, this is what I told myself. In the last year in review I talked about how crazy the year had been for me, and how I was going to use this year to flourish. Looking back, I think I succeded!
The year started out by immediately pulling me into new situations. I was chosen as the Conferences and Education Chair for the [email protected] organization, which not only meant that I get to see how a proper organization works, but also that I will be given responsibilities, and I'll have to work with some new people. Being much more of a "I work alone" person, this was a new experience, one that I was not really looking forward to, but I'm glad I did it. Being a part of a student organization taught me some much-needed social and management skills. I also got an opportunity to work with some of the best people in the organization to organize the monster of an event called RevolutionUC. I loved being a part of this organization, so I applied to be an executive member for the year 2020-21. And they much have liked having me around, because I got elected as the Webmaster! I think this is the perfect position for me, because I get to use me skills as a software developer to contribute to the organization.
The second situation I got thrown into was a bit more unexpected. It was a gradual change over the course of a few months, but I never realized how deep I got into it and how much it had affected me, or will affect me. There are a couple people in India who work as UC Ambassadors for all the newly admitted Indian international students. Every year, they make a group on Whatsapp with every person who has received an admission offer from UC, and they also add some current students who want to guide the incoming students and answer any queries related to academics, campus life and such. I was one of the students who were added. I spent a lot of time on that group answering the hundreds of queries thrown to us, mostly because I remember being in that position myself, and how scary and confusing the whole experience is. What I did not see coming was the transition from the FAQ bank to a mentor. I did not want this change, but it happened, and suddenly there were people looking up to me. So I tried my best to play the role of a coach. It's not like I have the life experience to be an effective mentor, but I believe I had enough for that time. And it worked. I got a couple new friends out of it, and I got to learn a lot about how to be a good mentor. It also helps that I was taking the Introduction to Interpersonal Communication class at that time.
An experience that was not so positive was my research assistant job. We had some new people joining us for the ride, and one of them was supposed to work with me on the I was working on. For the first couple months, we worked pretty hard on it, got a paper written and submitted to an ACM conference, and it got accepted! That was a great motivating factor for us, so we decided to write papers for more research venues. We used to work long nights and weekends, because it felt like we were onto something, and we had a great time doing it. But some incidents made me once again realize the reason why I always preferred working alone. There are always some people who will push you down when you think they will pull you up, even if it's unintentional. I still don't fully understand the possible reasoning behind that. Maybe he wasn't committed to the work as much as I was (or as much as I wanted him to be), or maybe he was in over his head. Either way, the work we did in the last couple months of 2019 was far from satisfactory, but I learned a lot throughout the whole experience.
Things changed a lot when I started my co-op in January. I was able to go back to my element of the software development world. This is a world that is vast and ever-changing, and even though I like to think that my breadth of knowledge is pretty big, I know that it's only at the surface. My co-op, enabled me to freely explore this exciting world and basically explode my skillset in a matter of months. I also got to learn a lot from my co-workers, while getting the opportunity to be the teacher for some others.
So at the end of another crazy year, as I write this essay, I am thinking back to what I wanted the theme of this year to be. Looking back, I wanted to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can, and use them to flourish. But going into the year, I was not really sure how to. It took me some time to get into the flow of my new life living off-campus on my own, cooking my own food, figuring out how to travel everyday, and managing the load of work. Figuring all this out was the first step in the flourishing process. The next was learning how to work with people that come in my life in the form of peers, co-workers, teachers and mentees. The final, and in my opinion, the most important step, was to figure out exactly where to go from here.
Don't get me wrong; "flourish" is not the same as "grow". I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to do. This year was a transition from a crazy and confusing chapter to a much more streamlined and structured chapter in the story. But to make sure the following chapters don't get off-track, I have to put in the work that's needed. So that's the theme I'm choosing for the next year - work. As a wise man once said,
Your dreams won't work unless you do.
Cheers, and stay safe out there!