Nineteen, and beyond

Picture of a chicken fence, overlooking some blurred-out  greenery.

It’s that time of the year again. 2018 passed by so quickly, and still felt like the longest year of my life ever(don’t you hate it when that happens every year?😒). I have grown a lot this last year, maybe more than all previous years combined. 2019 brings me closer to being the magical age of 30, while also somehow making me look younger(it’s a secret). 2018 broke my heart, but gave me enough push to start rebuilding.

⚠ Content warning. This post will be long, and will have so many ‘going around the head to hold your ear’ moments, that you might start getting confused.

Self realization

A lot of things happened in 2018, which would be enough to make or break someone completely. I was fortunate enough to realize that it’s only possible to rebuild, when one breaks the existing structure.

I understood myself only after I destroyed myself. And only in the process of fixing myself, did I know who I really was.

Sade Andria Zabala

I think the best part of 2018 was that the breaking happened so unexpectedly, and in such a proportion, that it was then easy to get rid of the pieces, and build anew. I’m grateful to everyone who was involved in this, for helping me realize my own true self. This has been a riveting and eye-opening journey, and I’m happy I’m on that train now.

Self Acceptance

Once you realize who you are, it’s easy to reject that idea outright. People in psychology call this the Backfire Effect. It basically manifests itself when you’re presented evidence which is contrary to what your worldview is, and your brain just doubles down on previously held ideas. If you think about it, it is very counter-intuitive to logic, but completely in line with how human minds work.

Only when you break down existing ideas, existing beliefs, and previously held convictions, are you able to start from scratch. This is what I have been trying to do for the past few months, and completely accepting my own true self has been the key to it. I know that putting my soul out there like this is dangerous, but anyone who has ever grown knows that growth is not found in comfort.

Rebuilding

What do you do once you realize that the grand project you’ve been working on for the past 20+ years is, well, meh? What do you do when all of your ideas about who you are, are utterly challenged, and rendered completely useless. What do you do, when all of you is broken in a million little pieces, and you have no idea what’s happening? Different people have different ideas – some choose to digress, some choose intoxication, some choose to keep breaking further, while some choose to end it all. For me the actual choice was easy. Once I knew what had to be done, I only needed the one thing — the blueprint.

After hours of therapy, and talking to friends and myself, I had a blueprint of what I was going to do. I had finally reached a point where I could start working on breaking down more walls in my head, and putting up new gardens instead. The last few months have been amazingly peaceful and chaotic at the same time. I’m not someone who believes in willful suspension of logic, but I can say that I’m glad I took that leap of faith.

Awesomeness

Enough talk about breaking and rebuilding and euphemisms. The path forward always requires that we identify our own insecurities, double down on our achievements, and define a path of positive progress. I think I achieved a lot of good things in the past year.

Learnt more about heartbreak

Some things teach us a lot more about ourselves, especially when they’re unexpected. I learned a lot about my own self when this happened, and I’m glad that I did.

One step closer to cyberpunk

I got a minor surgery in the wrist, and got a 2cm titanium implant. I’m one step closer to being a cyborg. Jokes aside,the experience of not having my dominant hand at my disposal, for months, gave me new insights into my own strengths and weaknesses. It’s almost funny how having a disability, even temporary, can uncover so many flaws and flakes in one’s character. I’m glad to have come out stronger.

Therapy

I finally got around to addressing my ever-growing mental health issues, and worked with a therapist to learn more about myself. One of the best things I could have done.

Lasers – pew pew pew

I have always hated my facial hair, so I got a laser hair removal subscription to get rid of it. Shaving is so much easier, and so much faster, and so much infrequent now.

G-END-ER

Funny wordplay aside, I finally came to terms with my own gender identity. Being assigned the male social and sexual role at birth, I have never been able to fully identify with that demographic. Gender, despite what a lot of us think, is not a boolean variable with just one of two possible values. It’s a complex socio-cultural concept, and I have tried understanding the nuances of it over the past few months.

The best thing that comes with self-acceptance, is that you’re open to all kinds of crazy ideas that may come your way. In my struggles of defining my identity, I came across a ton of people online who identified as non-binary. It just means that your own sense of self does not fall strictly within the binary system of male and female genders. For people who want to know more about this, the non-binary wiki is a great resource.

My relationship with gender has always been complex, and this revelation just complicates things more for me. I’m sure that as I explore more, I will discover new things about my own self every day. I have always had reservations about being identified as one from the alphabet soup of LGBTQIA+, but I’m discovering more and more good stuff now that I am here. My social media profiles have had this description of me for some time now, and I guess this is just an announcement to the whole freaking world 😬

Minimalism

Another good thing I think I have started doing this last year, is that I started to get rid of things. I have had a bad habit of accumulating unnecessary stuff, and cutting out the extra cruft from my life has been a super-positive experience.

This also included reducing the number of online properties I have. I simplified this website, and brought in a number of domain names to point to the same website. Reducing this overhead has helped me a lot with managing my anxiety around online identities.

Activism

I have started giving myself more voice when speaking about things publicly. I have always been a staunch supporter of Free Software, and social justice in general. This year I have added intersectional feminism, transgender rights, and rights of LGBTQIA+ people in general, to my list of causes to support. I’m glad that I’m able to use any privilege that I have to help bring some positive change.

More

I also completed 853 days working for this awesome company called Automattic. Working here has had a big role in a lot of things that I achieved this last year. I have made amazing friends, and I worked with so many awesome people. Being in a distributed environment also helped me discover a lot about my own discomforts, character flaws, and sources of anxiety. This has been one of the longest learning experiences of my life, and I hope it keeps going like this.

Resolutions resolutions

What is a new year without new year resolutions. Every year I have joked about screen resolution, and I intend to keep doing that. On a serious note, I have a long list of things I really really want to achieve this year.

  • Even better mental health — It doesn’t really get fixed completely, but improving on it should always be the top priority
  • Love more — I have made some amazing friends over the last few years, and I intend on giving them more of me in this year.
  • Take more photos — I spent a lot of money on buying this amazing Fuji camera two years ago, but I haven’t been able to use it to its full potential. I want to work more on improving this, and take and post more pictures.
  • Write more — This blog has been a continuation of my various spread out pieces online for a long time, and only now it has started coming together properly. I intend to write a lot more short and long pieces here in this year
  • Read more — I’m adding things to my reading list constantly, and I’m slowly getting back to the habit of reading physical books. This year, I intend to grow this habit more, and read as much as I can.
  • More self-love — Everything else is secondary, if you don’t love your own self. With the kind of self-acceptance I have now, I only intend to continue this journey of self-improvement, and find things about myself that make me fall in love with me again and again.
  • Do more art — In the last couple of years, I completely took my brain off of the different art forms I love and appreciate. This year I intend to do more music, write more poetry, and produce more art. However bad they might be, they will still be my little pieces of soul lingering in the sky.

Looking forward

Writing this has been an experience. I didn’t realize how long this post has gone. I’m sure only people who have lots of free time will read this.

I’m grateful to everyone who has been super-supportive and helpful during this ongoing struggle and journey. If you’re someone who is struggling with your gender identity, sexuality, mental health issues, etc etc; trust me, it gets better. I’m always happy to lend a hand(or an ear) if you need someone to reach out to.

In the end, I’m sure that I would not be here without the support of my very good friends, who I love to death. Just know that you always have a place in my heart, and that your kindness is my strength.

I’m not sure what to write to properly end this thing, and I definitely don’t want to write a book here 🤣. So I’ll just go ahead and stop abruptly here.

Happy new year 💜

4 comments

Leave a Reply to Saurabh Shukla Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: