2019 was the year of acceptance for me. From accepting that I can’t be everywhere all the time to accepting the bugs that may or may not crawl into my bed at night. It’s also been a year of more solidly coming to terms with who I am and acceptance of how I feel about a lot of things, from my self-image of my body, to how my culture is reflected in my lifestyle, to being true to what I want in my life (based on what I’ve transplanted with me across continents).
About mid-way through the year I had a reflection point thinking about 3 central questions:
- Does where I live matter? If so, what are the things I want to experiment with about my lifestyle? What does living in a certain place allow me to do?
- What does stability mean for me? What makes me feel as if there’s continuous progress but with a safety net to not feel out of control?
- What gives me a spirit of playfulness? If you feel taken care of, what would I explore and do?
I started off the year with a trifecta of goals: acceptance, contentment, and continuation.
Acceptance because as a Type A personality, I constantly want more. And there’s not a need to want more. Sometimes everything is just enough. Contentment because it’s a longer-term version of acceptance. I thought about fulfillment too, but I think that’s an outcome rather than a goal. The last of the trifecta was continuation. I wanted to make sure that I was actually following through with activities. As someone who likes to dabble, it’s fun to jump from one thing to another but it’s important to build competency. And it’s not about being “good” at it, just continuing to do it, from improv to bhangra to reading.
Ironically, one of the things I came to accept this year was that I set unrealistic expectations of myself on continuing and being invested in activities. It’s ok to let go of activities as environments change (moving from improv to writing standup, and giving up toastmasters). Not everything has to be scheduled to the dot (I write in ebbs and flows but I would backdate entries to make sure they were “once a month”).
I also learned to listen to my body more. As an overscheduler, I would force myself to carry through with plans which I wouldn’t enjoy because I was too tired, stressed, or exhausted because I was committed. So not only did I made fewer plans (duh!), I also became less afraid of cancelling them. And because I was more committed to doing the things that I really wanted to do and was in the right state-of-mind to do them, I was more on-time (and early!) to things and more present. I also had more capacity to handle life admin things. Routines came more naturally (rather than having sticky notes posted everywhere to remind myself to do things).
The year was filled with lots travel, both new and old places. With attending 5 weddings in 6 months, it was a wonderful chance to visit old places and reconnect with people. I also got to do some exploring of my backyard in California which was a lovely treat before moving abroad. I’ve also been taking a personal exploratory trip each year (2017 – Europe, 2018 – Morocco), and did a different flavor by attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this year (well worth it). I’m looking forward to attending the Jaipur Literature Festival (yes, I’m a nerd) at the beginning of 2020.
I felt like my year was punctuated by my move abroad, prior to which I was investing in my community (shared poetry at a South Asian Open Mic Night), work (I finally found my stride at Amazon) and lifestyle (I bought an amazing little Beetle and found another amazing roommate). Post-move, I have spent a lot of time recreating a lot of the routines that I had in the states to ensure a sense of balance and continuity. Although the social aspect of things has faded quite a bit (still learning how to make friends here), I’ve gotten a lot more time back to myself that I’m enjoying. I’m using the time to explore things I’m interested in (South Asian art, cooking, dance).
There’s a sense of calm I feel here that is hard to describe. Because everyone is taken care of, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a rat race. I was getting into meditation before I left California and oddly here, I don’t feel a deep sense of unrest that had originally driven me to meditate.
I know 2020 will bring a lot of travel, and with it the constant adjustment of environment not only for my body but for my mind. Jetlag is real and self-care is a requirement. Finding a balance between work and play is also in the works, as I’ve jumped in head first. My acceptance (at least of environments) will only grow as working for an airline ensures you’re booked a ticket and seat at the last minute (and can change at the last second).
The homesickness is also real. And while some days worse than others, living in a digital world means keeping in touch with loved ones. My flatmate (and little dog) have created the most welcoming environment I could have asked for as I begin creating a life in Australia.
As I move into a new decade, I’m kind of at a loss for goals. I’ve strived for so many things the last couple of years and I just want to be. And maybe that’s a goal in itself. Being.