2023 Reflections: Career & Personal Growth

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It wasn’t easy. A journey filled with personal growth never is, nor will it ever be. It challenges us. It makes us question every choice we make, be it at the moment, or the ones we’ve made long ago. And that’s how my 2023 started. 6 months prior to the start of this year, I had been laid off from my job. A layoff is hard. It makes us question our worth, although it’s clear that we’re merely a
consequence of a string of events that have nothing to do with us. Knowing it is one thing, accepting that it has nothing to do with us is a whole different ball-game. Six months is a long enough time period to not just accept that fact, but also take my journey into my own hands as well! That became the rhetoric of the second half of 2022. I decided that it would continue to be the theme of my life in 2023 as well.

It may feel like freedom at first. I was in control of how my days were spent. I controlled which activities my time was invested in and honestly, it felt good for a while. 2023, however, started
differently. It was that time when the effects of freedom started wearing out, and was slowly replaced by instability in my finances. This wasn’t the best place to start my year of course, but it
is what it is! I didn’t want to ever find myself in a situation where I had to borrow a dime from my parents. But this day didn’t seem very far at the rate I was going. I consciously decided to limit
my spending on wants. It helped a bit, but it wasn’t the best place to be in. I slowly realised that the freedom that I felt was actually responsibility in disguise. And I had to face the hard truth that maybe I hadn’t been responsible enough in 2022.

The effects of anxious days soon rubbed into my work. I found myself accepting work that probably paid me way less than what I was worth, but I took them up just for the sake of stability.
The money had to come from somewhere! And this period lasted well until October, when my finances saw a turn in its fortune. And it served as a lesson for myself. As long as I’m worried
about my finances, I’ll never really be 100% invested in doing whatever it is that I love. Because I fear that at any moment, this could be taken away from me. This is a lesson that has been
appearing in my life time and again. And this is an indicator that something about my money management needs to change. That’s what my 2024 shall focus on. But there’s a silver lining: I
started a business officially!

Finance has a close-knit relationship with work. But it differs in one of the slightest, yet most significant ways. Finance is math. It’s all numbers, and there’s pure logic in there. In work
however, emotions play a huge role. Doing what I love has definitely been a game changer!
There’s a small catch! It’s one thing doing what I love when I’m learning but a whole different ball game when I’m out in the field. It can be frustrating. But the frustration isn’t a cue to change
my work. It’s just a call to action! And this revealed the other thing that life has been teaching me for years. When I am depleted of energy (either I’m hungry, or tired, or sleepy), it is very tough to manage a situation where the outcome isn’t in my favor.

Let me explain. When I’m coding, it’s very easy to find myself in a situation where the code doesn’t work. Sounds simple enough – there’s some mistake in my code. When I have the energy, it is far easier for me to look through the code and figure out the error, which more often than not is a very trivial one! But when I am hungry, tired or sleepy, the way I deal with this situation is very different. I just run the same code again and again, and shout at my monitor
“Why aren’t you working?”. Yeah, not productive! It’s very easy to say that I need patience when I am coding. And patience, I have learnt in 2023. A lot! The one thing that I’d like to add here is
that patience needs energy. It’s very easy to be impatient, throw tantrums and what not, even though it takes up a lot of energy to do so. Patience, while it stops me from getting into that space, requires me to stop behaving the natural way in such a situation, and that requires

But why is that my natural tendency? Wouldn’t it be easier to be patient naturally? The answer to that isn’t quite simple. The hope here is that eventually, patience will be my natural tendency.
A change like this will take time. Many situations demand my patience. There’s no option but to be patient there. And don’t even get me started on the internal chatter that my own demons
engage in, which push me into taking an action only to regret it later. Some of us may call that ‘overthinking’. And that’s hard. But shaming myself is not going to help me change what I want at all! Any change that needs to take place begins with self-compassion. The moment I attach judgement to my thought and behavior patterns, I am unconsciously shaming myself, and that makes it much harder to change them. The key to change is accepting myself as I am
completely, whole-heartedly. And then changing my patterns, one at a time.

This also circles to another important lesson I picked up along the way – self-forgiveness. Yes, I may be able to accept my present mistakes and shortcomings with no judgement, but I can’t say
the same for my past! How many times have I shamed myself for all the mistakes I made? Worse, how many times have I blamed myself for a fault that wasn’t even mine? My past may be just in the past, but its effects are something that I deal with today as well. That’s my
responsibility. But blaming or shaming myself was a mistake, and I was brave enough to recognise that and apologise to myself. I’m sorry, Shashank. Please forgive me! I thank you, I love you. These four magical sentences have changed my life in ways that I can’t describe. I never
thought I’d be this peaceful, nor did I think that I would heal from the wounds of my past.
Healing may take its own sweet time, but boy is it sweet!

I can see the effects of my learnings not only in how I interact with myself, but also in how I interact with others as well! Patience plays really well when I’m dealing with another person. Not
only are they more appreciative of me, but when I need them to be patient with me, they’d be happy to comply! Meeting new people, figuring out who I vibe with, and forming my tribe is a constant process. And patience is the fuel that enables all of that. By being compassionate with myself, I find it easy to be compassionate towards others. By forgiving myself, I can easily
forgive others. But I also know who to give a second chance to, and who not to. I wouldn’t have seen relationships this way had I not taken the time to work on my own self!
2023, you have been a wild ride! I thank you for everything that you put me through, even
though I didn’t feel this way at the time. 2024, I’m ready for you. Let’s have a blast!

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