My first full year of working full-time. The year of Covid-19. Of Zoom dates. Of rebuilding confidence. Of moving to Salt Lake City and being outdoors more. Of being in tune with my emotions.
I generally hate to admit this to myself but I lost a lot of self-confidence during university. It’s something that has bothered me a lot, but this year, I could feel some change. It’s hard to put this feeling into words but let me try.
I am starting to trust my instincts way more and I don’t second-guess my decision-making. I’ve always been more of a jack-of-all-trades kind of person, and nowadays, I’m further appreciating this aspect of my personality. I also have a life bucket list (yep, what can I say, I’m super basic), and of late, I’ve found it quite refreshing to be able to add to this list a few crazy and big dreams.
Although my social interaction was limited this year, unlike last year, I wasn’t a nervous wreck before meeting someone new. In the past, I’d often catch myself saying “oh yea, of course I know that” to avoid judgment or embarrassment, but now I feel more comfortable owning up to things I don’t know.
I ended 2019 on an incredible high. I went to Argentina for a shade over two weeks, having planned nothing and knowing only the spot where I was to meet my couchsurfing host for the first couple nights in Cordoba. During the two weeks, I drank an ungodly amount of yerba mate and tereré, ate empanadas every day, and danced to Soy Cordobes.
I was fortunate to experience the kindness of people, especially my hosts and their oh-so-Argentine moms. My host in Santa Rosa generously invited me to an NYE celebration with his relatives. I was naturally the main attraction of their dinner, and like during the rest of my trip, I was humbled by people trying to communicate with me in English. That night, I had the best champagne ever, karaoke’d to cumbia for hours on end, and overall had an unforgettable start to 2020.
Since I had no concrete plans, I was okay with going anywhere as long as it was southward. Initially, I had wanted to hitchhike all the way to the city of Ushuaia at the southern tip of the continent, but of course I had grossly underestimated the size of Argentina. I hitched half the length of the country and broke my personal best for the longest ride - a bum-flattening 950 km in a single day. I’m sure I smelled of roses because I got the ride from the very first people I approached that morning.
My unbelievable luck finally left me in the rainy Bariloche - a city surrounded by the Andes. There I mostly spent time hiking with Alon, whom my roommate and I had hosted in San Francisco in mid-2019. The Patagonian landscape is stunning, and frankly, I can go on and on about the trip, but I’ll leave the details for another blog. Raring to go back already.
Shelter-in-place in SF
Shortly afterward, Covid hit the US and I learned that Couchsurfing might go under. Hosting travelers was truly one of the highlights of my SF life, and I’m sad that I may not be able to do that for a long time.
Quarantine started off well for me - I was laser-focused and had a healthy routine. Sometime in the middle of the year though, I got into a bad patch. Things weren’t great at home, and I had difficulty empathizing with my parents. I behaved self-righteously and easily got frustrated with their decision-making.
On top of this, I was infatuated with someone and that only worsened my mental being. Since then, I’ve had time to understand what happened and also friends like Tej and Pankaj bhaiya to talk through my feelings with. I’m glad that I didn’t hold my emotions back, but I definitely don’t want to put myself through the wringer ever again.
My social life took a blow, and barring the occasional beach day or Dolores hangout, I wasn’t having fun in San Francisco. I was looking for a change of pace.
Moving to Salt Lake
This winter season, I really wanted to try a winter sport. My friend Omar had been living in Salt Lake City (SLC) for some time, so it was a no-brainer for me to move there, albeit temporarily. I loved that I was decisive and had no nerves about my move.
I have been skiing a number of times already, and I can safely say that the walk to and from the parking lot is the worst part about skiing. SLC hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, and around Park City, I got to see the slalom course and the ski jumping hill. That made me smile because earlier in the year, I had applied to volunteer at Beijing 2022.
Unicycling - I went from being unable to ride more than two blocks to riding over 10 miles from San Francisco to San Bruno on my 20”. The uni is now rotting in some storage warehouse in SF. In Salt Lake, I decided to buy a 28” to try to do longer distances, but so far, I haven’t found the motivation to brave the cold outside. So I’m watching Ed Pratt’s videos for inspiration.
Reading - I bought a Kindle. Yes, I’m a convert now and I concede that any paper religion is no bueno. Favorite books - A Gentleman in Moscow, Know My Name, and India after Gandhi. Most overrated book - Why we sleep. My Year in Books on Goodreads.
Money - This year, I made more money than ever, which is understandable because I was busy being a capitalist pig. Don’t get me wrong, I love money but this scares the shit out of me. Sitting on top of this money (and getting the sweet sweet 0.01% savings rate) is the only thing I knew, and so that’s what I did until the little I did have invested started reaping unreal returns due to Covid. Then I went all in on RICK and MORT.
Work - I had more say and responsibility at work which felt satisfying. I’ve never given undue weight to seniority levels, so more often than not, I spoke my mind. In the process, I often worried about coming across as condescending and let myself stress over minor communication issues. Lucky to have a supportive manager and strong women leaders to look up to.
Phases - I did not follow through on the many habits I had started to nurture at different times of the year. After Argentina, I started teaching myself Spanish but that only lasted a little over a month. I tried weight training, eating 4 times a day, and bullet journaling, but over time, everything fizzled out 😞. Currently, I’m in my wannabe chess player phase but I keep offering the Botez Gambit.
I’m feeling a bit poetic now, so here’s a note to myself.
Yash, be easy to please so you see the good in people first. Appreciate the moms and sports referees for taking on the hardest jobs. Be content and take time to see how far you’ve come in the last two years. Still, actively seek out unknown territory because it’s the only way to grow. Remember that an entire life lies ahead of you. Be fucking fearless. Notice how people react to your vulnerability and be gentle to anyone who shares theirs. Create more and for yourself, share your work, and be grounded when you receive compliments. Know that people who critique you are the ones who care the most about you.