The year 2020 earned a notorious reputation for itself. Most of us would remember it for how life drastically changed without fair warning. I personally would remember it as the perfect mix of good, bad, and ugly. Of new beginnings and yet keeping up with the old. Of thriving but also surviving. The year of turning thirty was full of emotions; powerful and impactful, charging and controlling, expressing, and feeling. At thirty, I felt it all coming towards me, for good or not so good, it was all within me.
At thirty, I yet again experienced Canada through the many firsts. Tubing at Chicopee Park, Yurting in Silent lake, snowshoeing on the frozen lake were just some of the winter fun activities that helped me get one step closer to befriending the snow. I discovered a whole new side to Ontario that made me feel like a noob. Though this year was not only about being a noob, but also about taking my pro skills to the next level. I biked one of the Great Canadian Trails in French Canada. Le Petit Train Du Nord is a 200-km long train track now being converted into a bike path that traverses seven small towns in the Laurentian mountain range. For the first time I was documenting my grueling journey on a Go Pro capturing my ride under all weather conditions; the sun, the rains, and the wind.
The series of many firsts did not end there. On the professional side of things, I taught myself new skills and learnt to apply them in my work. I designed a website for the first time. Learning design started as a personal project for me but soon enough helped me find more meaningful work. For the first time ever, I launched myself as a freelancer. I was now my own boss managing all aspects of work by myself. I always dreamt of owning a shop, but this was the first time that I lived and breathed the hustles of independent working. From difficult conversations with clients to juggling between many projects, I was doing it all. These hustle stories remain the highlight of the year for me.
At thirty, I was feeling accomplished and confident in my efforts. I knew I had not achieved the goal, but I firmly believed that everything that I wanted to do could be figured out. This brought me to an ecstatic level of self-confidence. And when you feel good about yourself from within, good things happen to you. This was the exact opposite of the spiraling down effect I felt at twenty-nine. At thirty, I was determined to keep my spirits high and my mind engaged in learning and performing. I was rolling on a positive wave. The ride continued and my outlook was validated further for me when I was approached to do bigger and better projects. Not once, but twice.
I did my first design research project in Canada with Tim Hortons, one of the most iconic Canadian brands. I got my first UX gig in Canada as a Scrum Master, giving me the opportunity to learn without limits. At thirty, I felt grateful as I saw people believing in me.
And then there were milestones achieved that continue to impact my life in subtle ways. I earned my driving license which allowed me to dream a bit more seriously for a cross-country trip in Canada. I volunteered at a tea festival where the diversity of flavors and Torontonians came together for the love of Chai. I danced at the Black History Month Gala which felt like just another family event but from another culture, reminding me once again how colorful Toronto is. I enjoyed going on a few dates only to realize what exactly I do not want in life. I tried edibles for the very first time which made me rethink about how far I can go outside of my comfort zone.
While my “thirty” may appear to be a list of accomplishments, there was a lot that did not happen this year. At thirty, there were elements of bad, or not so good experiences. As the year began, I lost my job. I felt discouraged in the moment, but little did I know back then that this will ultimately push me to do things of my own. I learnt the skill of figuring out without giving up. I learnt to be vulnerable and approach my challenges with a refreshed vigor.
I lost my practice of yoga from time to time feeling a drop in my energy and endorphins. I lost my practice of French feeling despaired. To keep myself on track and regain my mojo, I retorted to new and innovative ways of journaling. I benefitted from practicing journaling simply by penning down my scattered thoughts. At thirty, I was cognizant that my mind is not able to hold all the thoughts by itself and needs to be more organized.
This year, I particularly lost my social streak. Being an extrovert most of the times, I craved for human interaction and an exchange of creative energy. There were no house parties, no casual meetups, no networking events to attend. I felt sad and alone. There were days of cloudiness and loneliness in the mind, finding it hard to push myself to even do things that I love doing. At thirty, I rekindled with nature in a mandatory way. Hiking outside city limits and biking within the city kept me going. I dug deeper into the strength of my mind by doing more physical activity. I walked into new woods and paddled on new routes to enjoy the company of my own mind.
At thirty, I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I struggled to find my peace of mind in many moments, but I also observed my mind a tad bit more to feed what it needs. At thirty, I felt the need to take care of myself.
However, things did not stop at the not so good moments. There were doses of ugly emotions flowing within to which I had no answers. At thirty, I strongly felt the pain of being away from home and family. The pandemic magnified the dark side of my immigrant life. There was a constant and endless uncertainty to the future that made me feel insecure and guilty. Thoughts of going back surfaced time and again as did the fear of not meeting my family again. At thirty, I questioned myself, if it was worth achieving success at the cost of not having my loved ones around. In fact, I reassessed my definition of success and how to make my short and insignificant stay on earth, worthy.
In these unprecedented times, I felt thankful when love reached out to me in different ways, reassuring me that I am not alone. It was the love and care of my well-wishers who constantly chose to remain a part of my life. They remind me that life is too short to feel anything else but happy. At thirty, I started to acknowledge what is for me, respect it and enjoy it, no matter what. I practiced living by the philosophy of one day at a time and not overthink and overplay the reels of future.
At thirty, began a fresh new decade for me. A decade where there are expectations of making the big life decisions right, hopes of achieving dreams that have waited long enough to happen and a strong will to march forward because giving up is not an option. In 2020, as I completed thirty years of my life, I found that life was a little more twisted than I would have imagined.