I am down to the last few pages in my daily planner and it is time to do the dreaded task of evaluating the year – what I did and didn’t do, how I failed and possibly grew, what I learnt , how much I laughed and cried and what came out of all the extreme emotions. 2019 has been a particularly tough year.

I started off optimistically, setting goals, making plans and writing them down so I could hold myself accountable, marking progress as I went along. Even as I flip through the pages in of the days over the year, there are scribbles here and there, some neat lists, other random thoughts I treated as raw kernels that would pop someday. There are the blank days where nothing is written, some of which I can trace to being overwhelmed or lazy and others to hours I did nothing but think and listen to music.

I made the classic mistake of being overly ambitious and lost focus halfway. I wanted to do everything, to make up for lost time, to seize days and live them with some sort of frenzied YOLO-induced zest. It’s easy to forget that not all parts of time are under my control, that curve balls will come and achingly chip away at whatever structure I try to establish.

There is a lot of unfinished business that I’m carrying forward into 2020 – my beginners Himalayan hike, a whole stack of books remain unread, the camping getaway I’d promised to take my daughter on, an extravagant holiday I’ve been wanting to treat the husband to. Apart from the set goals, there’s the other work-in-progress stuff too. My writing is still evolving – there are days when I churn such garbage it disgusts me but I have to accept the journey. I’ve treated my marriage like a pinata – thwacking at it with angst and regret. I’m nowhere close to the achieving financial independence milestone.

What I did manage to accomplish was realize my own worth which is a huge milestone for me. From the time I hit puberty, I’ve constantly harboured pangs of ‘Am I good enough’. It’s this weird state of mind where my self-consciousness cripples me; the things I wear, talk and care about, the opinions I form. But this year I am finally done feeling inadequate. It has been exhausting and shackling

It’s been a year since I started therapy. Talking to someone who is stern enough to call me out on my self-pitying bullshit while urging me to be kinder to myself has been cathartic and tough as hell. I never realized how much damage I’d done to my head and heart with the way I’d been used to thinking and feeling.

So overall, 2019 has been a well-needed kick in the bottom. I am not making any resolutions for 2020 but am going in with a different approach of understanding that real progress takes time and cannot be ticked off in a span of 365 days.

As I gear up to prepare for the next year and decade, I want to celebrate some of the personal breakthroughs I had:

The year I learnt to forgive myself and understand the true nature of my failures – little turtles I’ve held on to uselessly, but which need to claw their way out and find their way into a nameless ocean.

The year I discovered my body. Not the rolls, wrinkles and moles but the insides. My caged strength, the capacity to expand, how well my muscles and mind can work together to make me a machine – efficient, spirited and tough.

The year I realized that I am a goddamned writer – not an aspiring one. I can create little incredible explosions with words by watching, learning, loving, hating, growing. But that itch is always there, to carve something amazing with my lens, fashioned out of my imagination, realities I see and hope for and of course – memories.

The year I learnt the power of focus. Wanting too much too quickly made me run helter-skelter without achieving much. I know now that all is not possible. I must choose, cast the dice and play one game properly.

The year I began to enjoy cooking. Dicing vegetables with love, drizzling sauces with hope, grinding masalas with fervour, tasting with pride. Yes, in the end if you really want something to turn out well, you must put your heart in it.

The year I learnt how little I really know. My ignorance weakens me. There is so much to discover about the world, myself, people – an infinity of possibilities out there to immerse in and absorb into my own identity.

The year that love taught me to know when to remember and when to forget. And to respect the power of choice.