Closing Out the ’10s

January 22, 2020 – I know the post will be dated but I felt it was important to pen it myself because I started this draft on December 31, 2019 (after ten days of struggling to make time for it). Now, nearly a month later, I am finally sitting at a Starbucks, inside the Sheraton Hotel in Tarrytown, NY on a random Wednesday morning and writing (maybe finishing?) this post. 

January 26, 2020 – I obviously did not finish on the date above. Today, I am sitting in between attending the NY Times Travel Show, on a Sunday afternoon, at a cafe called Gregory’s Coffee, which I randomly found on my walk back to the Travel Show in New York City. 

January 31, 2020 – Exactly a MONTH later, is when I finished this post. 

What a year — and what a decade!

It’s funny, I’ve never been too conscious about decades before. The 80s came and went and I was too little to realize any of its impacts. 90s were more prominent with a lot of life changes – moving continents, oceans, and eventually even coasts, not to mention entering the teenage years – ahh, so dramatic in every way. The 00s (what does one call the single-digit years?) — well, they were full of a different kind of drama, college years to the work-life & figuring out relationships — all of ’em! Somehow, I feel like I may have been my most immature during that decade. And that brings me to the 10s — the last ten years have been astonishing in every possible way. The best years of my adulthood mixed in with some of my worst moments, emotionally, filled this decade.

I initially thought I needed to recap the ten years that have passed but I quickly realized it would never get published as a post because it would be the length of a book. So I decided that maybe I would just focus on this past year.

This has been a rough year — emotionally. I’ve found myself constantly battling with myself — I struggled with the realities of my life and the hopes I had for them. It was by far one of the most (maybe THE most) emotionally draining years of my life (at least from what I can now recall). Everything I wanted, I was consistently watching slip through my grips. As a result, I spent most of the year somewhere between pacifying myself and bursting into fits of outburst (also to myself).

But it wasn’t all bad. In the midst of all this, some aspects of life were growing, emerging, blossoming and so were parts of me that were struggling to stay above the waters.

Balance. That’s what I was noticing myself struggling to find. I was working harder than ever and as a result, sleeping less. And anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep will tell you that THAT is a recipe for disaster. I knew I was strong but I also knew I was always moments away from falling apart. Sometimes I just watched myself, almost like an out of body experience, wondering when I would stumble and not be able to get up. It wasn’t a good place – physically nor mentally but I tried to keep the focus on one important aspect of all this: it was all temporary.

Perspective. I have always been an advocate of keeping perspective. It almost always serves as the savior to your near slip-and-fall moments. It’s not always easy, but if you can keep perspective, you can get through pretty much everything in life.

2019 tested my foundational belief on perspective and then it grew that belief tenfold stronger. That is my biggest takeaway from this past year.

Now onto some fun lists. Here are some of my Favorite Things from 2019 (in no particular order):

Favorite Books

  • I can’t make this up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart
  • The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
  • The 3-Day Effect by by Florence Williams (Audible Original)
  • Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama
  • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Favorite Shows

I don’t watch TV so this is essentially all I saw lol

  • Four Weddings and a Funeral (Hulu Original, written by Mindy Kaling)
  • Stranger Things 3 (Netflix)
  • The Morning Show (Apple)

Favorite Movies

  • Little Women
  • Avengers End Game
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Favorite Brands (discoveries)

Biggest Accomplishment of the ’10s: REMAINING UNMARRIED AND TRUE TO MY HEART AND SOUL.

This sounds silly but unless you are a 38 year old, Muslim woman, from a conservative family who is NOT married with children, BY CHOICE, you’ll never know what an achievement that is. The constant pressure and nonsensical talk/interrogations I have had to endure from everyone and their mother because of my (very strong) stance on this has been incredibly tasking. BUT, I haven’t budged in a decade and no one has emotionally blackmailed me down an aisle, so I consider that a win.

Biggest Hope for 2020: AFRICA.

2019 was the year of least travel for me and the negative impact it had on my mind is indescribable. In fact, unless you love travel to the extent that I do (I would sooner give up on any relationship I have than give up the ability to travel), there is no way for me to portray in words how the lack of (consistent) traveling has been demoralizing, painful and lonely. So, this year, I hope I travel a LOT more, but mostly, I hope I step foot onto the continent of Africa.

Key Changes/Actions I intend to Implement in the ’20s (certainly in 2020):

  • See my closest besties once a year, even if its just for the weekend! For Godsake, I’m almost 40, I CAN manage to do that! And I’m the only unattached one (not married, no kids), if I can’t be flexible, who can?
  • Put my mental (& physical) health above everything and everyone else.
  • Get up when I wake up. I wake up really early but I don’t always get up when I wake up and I’d really like to make this one key change in the habit in the morning. I know that it will make all the difference in my day and will have a ripple effect on my life.
  • Get 5-6 hours of sleep. This is a huge stretch because I normally don’t get sleep beyond 3 hours (4 on a good day). So to nearly double that will be a task and half!
  • Be patient with me. I finally seem to fully understand that I cannot implement all my changes, all at once. I have to allow myself time to adopt the new behavior changes and acknowledge that I will inevitably fall off the wagon, and when I do, instead of beating myself up over it, I just need to get back on and MOVE FORWARD.
  • Write TWO blog posts per month, one for here and one for my travel business, Spirited Navigators.
  • Prioritize ME. This post took over 6 weeks to complete because whenever I would be able to make some time for it, I would be exhausted from all the things I had to do earlier that day. This left me with no mental capacity to sit down and write. This constant act of putting the things that are important to me in the back burner has to come to a halt. I need to learn to put myself first, even if that means I need to say NO to important people in my life.

There are a ton of little changes the fit into these broader changes, but less is more.

I am entering the new decade with profound respect for the world we live in and all those inhabitants in it. I don’t know what the future holds – do I have a year? a decade? another fifty years? maybe longer? So I can’t dwell on it. I can only be grateful for the moment I am in now and that is good enough for me.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2020 – not just the year, but the new decade ahead!

During the writing of this post (on January 26, 2020), I found out that the legend, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash — not too long after I (& the rest of the world) learned that his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, also died in the same crash. This was really devastating. I didn’t follow Basketball, obviously didn’t know him in any personal capacity, but he was a legend of our times. To die, so tragically, so suddenly, at the age of 41 & 13 respectively, it hit hard. The world feels like it’s a bit still. I left the cafe almost an hour later, walked back to where my car was parked in a lot in New York City. I just let the enormity of death and life’s suddenness, unpredictability sink in. God works in mysterious ways, none of us know where we’re headed. Don’t save things for tomorrow, you don’t even know if you have the rest of today.

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