Hello, peeps! I hope you’re all doing well.
I didn’t write or read nearly enough in 2018.
But then again, 2018 was no ordinary year. (Also customary year end posts are convenient ideas, easy to write and a good way to wrap things up)
I graduated as a lawyer. Spent some months working for an Advocate I have looked up to as a role model since my earliest days as a student of law. I got a job. I lost a great deal of weight. (This is not an achievement, but the successful exercise of self-restraint is) I made some amazing friends and managed to stay in touch with the old ones. I did my best to be there for friends who were going through a hard time.
I also received heaps of rejections – from employers, and from people I thought were friends. I struggled with a toxic relationship, and then a painful and taxing end to the same. I saw my mother battle with unimaginable physical pain, undergo surgery and a strenuous recovery. I got chicken pox in June and serious GI issues is October.
This has been an eventful year, to say the least. But as it comes to an end, I feel grateful for what it taught me.
I spent months looking for employment, and read countless emails of rejection. But my confidence did not waver. Not because I have great self-confidence – I have only trace amounts, I assure you. I managed to plough through only because of the incredible support I had from friends and family – who checked-up on me, encouraged me, made me laugh, listened patiently if I whined, and most importantly, were never patronising. I will always, always be grateful to these people, for holding my hand and patting my back and lending an ear (and a shoulder!) as I waded through those trying months.
The many months of struggle also forced me to think about my own ideas of achievement and success. Did I define them for myself, or did I allow myself to be influenced by all the noise around me? Are my parameters of success the same as ones for the boy sitting next to me? Can I measure out my individual milestones in monetary terms? What compromises am I okay with and what are the things for which I am unwilling to bend? These are questions I never asked myself, because I was so busy running.
But then there was a (seemingly) long period when everything seemed to be in limbo – suspended mid air where there was little action left for me to initiate. In that void I could no longer deflect these questions. This, too, I am grateful for. I’d rather know my stance today than discover it at a time when I cannot turn back. Or when the damage is already done. In fact, it worries me now that we are not encouraged to have these conversations with ourselves before making our choices. All the emphasis is on milestones that can be measured in empirical terms – marks, money, balance, promotions. No wonder we have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. I don’t have to lean left to recognise the problem here.
But this post is where I count my blessings. So here’s another one. I have immediate access to wise (and impartial) counsel on my phone. Not an app, no. I find encouragement and counsel (and a lot of laughs. and book recommendations) from some wonderfully wise and phenomenally mad ladies on a Whatsapp Group. We like to think of ourselves as four misfits who belong here, complete with all of our idiosyncrasies and flaws. One of them is my favorite-est storyteller of all time. Another is a wonder woman who can save the world by simply writing code. The third is one gifted with the ability to dissect a situation that seems chaotic, identify a pattern and offer a solution. The fourth, of course, is yours truly. We are the antithesis to Fight Club. We all like to read, we hate wearing pants, love to eat but have shitty metabolism rates. We want to have a social life but wish that was possible to accomplish in our PJs, inside our homes. You may find these women lurking around on this blog every once in a while.
Then there was the MeToo movement, which, for all its strengths and flaws, finally gave me the push to talk about my experience with sexual assault. Social Media allowed me to share my story anonymously with thousands of people. Despite some toxicity here and there, I found a sisterhood of women all of whom share a similar history. And there I found the courage to speak more openly, without the veil of anonymity. And that was cathartic.
MeToo also made me realise that I’m surrounded by extraordinary women in my life. Women who’ve shown courage, compassion and wisdom in the face of adversity and heartache. Women who embody the true spirit of feminism, which at its core, is about empathy more than it is about empowerment.
I also coloured my hair pink, which didn’t work out well and the colour bled too fast and I was left with weird blond hair with the texture of a much abused broom. I chopped it off and swore I’d never color my hair again. But I did. A burgandy+mahogany thing. And I love it. Good thing I was a putty in the hands of the rather charismatic hairstylist who was simply supposed to trim my split-ends.
I also did not purchase any perfumes this year. Not myself, anyway. I did convince the mother to buy one. But that was on duty free, okay? It’s criminal to walk away from a good deal on Chanel.
Ultimately, 2018 has left me with a thicker skin and a more hopeful heart. I wish you all a joyous new year. I wish you emotional and financial independence above all else. And good health to you and your families.