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Lessons I Learned in 2021

I wrote a similar reflection on Jan 3, 2020, about what 2019 taught me. I didn’t write down my thoughts on 2020 because it was a year of extremes and overwhelm. Well, guess what? 2021 was more extreme and overwhelming, yet it was a crucial year for me in shaping me as an individual. Perhaps much more than 2015, when things crumbled down on me, and everything came to a standstill among the ruins. 

The other day my best friend asked me how 2021 was overall. I didn’t have to think much before saying, “Bittersweet!” And, rightly so! The bitter stuff was painful, taught me many things, and helped me work on myself. The sweet stuff had its fondness and warmth that helped me thrive despite the lows. 

Here’s looking back at some of the lessons I learned in 2021 (in no particular order): 

  • I’m capable of acting in extremes: sliding between vices and virtues at both the ends of a spectrum. Moderation is the key. 
  • It’s not just enough to identify, dissect, and manage my emotions. I need to keep a check on my mental health. Am I doing just enough to survive or, am I making efforts to thrive?
  • External validation is necessary. “I don’t need feedback; I know what’s right for me!” is a gateway to self-sabotage and ceremonial relationships sapped of mutual love and respect. 
  • I am not the insecurities I’ve had about my body. I am my body as it is, and I am the existence that this body extends beyond what I appear. 
  • I am loved and wanted beyond the ways I could have imagined. 
  • Love doesn’t mean obtaining. It means celebrating the existence of another being regardless of labels and reciprocation. 
  • I need to work on myself to become a better version of myself. I also need to work on myself to help my loved ones see their blind spots and work on becoming better versions of themselves.
  • I’ll never have time unless I make time for what matters. What matters is what I pay attention to regularly. 
  • Minimalism doesn’t mean sacrifice, inaction, and complacency. Keeping things simple and living with the bare minimum are two different things. 
  • Fear feeds on inaction. Understanding thrives on action. Where understanding surfaces, fear wilts. 
  • How I see the world either emerges from my craving (what I want to see happening) or aversion (what I don’t want to see happening). 
  • Everything eventually passes, not for good or bad, but everything passes. The more I am aware of this transient nature of things and life- the less stubborn I become of my worldviews (things I crave and things I’m averse to). 
  • The more I become an observer- instead of a companion to my cravings and an enemy to my aversions, the more I free myself of affliction.  
  • As long as I don’t love myself, no amount of love I get from the people I love will suffice because, in their absence, I’m always going to feel hollow, worthless, and incomplete. 
  • Others are not responsible for how I feel. I am not responsible for how other people feel, but we impact each other for sure.
  • Reflection is elemental to building self-awareness and growth, but reflection without action is a conscious choice to making myself miserable. 
  • Writing is therapeutic to me. It helps me connect with myself and others; it invites others to relate to me- through which I experience a sense of communion. 
  • When I’m in pain, I lose the ability to listen to others, but unfortunately, I can’t even listen to myself. If I don’t keenly listen to myself, I wouldn’t know what I need. If I don’t know what I need, I can’t communicate that to others. Hence, a lack of listening comes at the cost of perpetuating disconnection with self and others.
  • I deprive people of the qualities I am generally known for in my closer circle- sharing my thoughts, being curious about the world and its ways, and being humorous/playful. I will spread those in my relationship with more and more people in the days to come.  
  • There’s nothing like spending moments of quiet and reflection with myself at the end of the day. 
  • For this last one, quoting what I wrote a few months ago: “That space. We all need that space to be ourselves without inhibitions, fear, judgments, ifs, and buts. We all need that space to fall into, knowing that we won’t remain broken but will heal and be held dear in many possible ways. That space- we all need that space to grow into authentic versions of ourselves. We are all looking for that space, those people we can call our own and those who call us theirs.” May I create more of that space for myself and others this year and beyond. 

I wish everyone a loving, healing, and meaningful 2022!

"I am one, but I am not the only one; hardships and happiness, both spare no one." Governed by this quote that I've written, I try to live each day with courage, calmness, and realism.

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