2021 Wrapped

A note to self.

Oh what a year it has been! Everything from April 2020 to Dec 2021 feels like one hazy long year to me which started with having to abruptly head back home without the final goodbyes at college. For someone who likes to have it all planned, it was unsettling.

Back home, I spent an exceedingly unhealthy amount of time binge-watching random content or staring at the wall in front of my table. I wanted to “figure out” what it is that I want to do, have a plan and then (hopefully) act on it. At a point, I was just hating myself for doing nothing.

For an outside eye, I was definitely doing many things: I got over some of my camera inhibitions (and all the worry of being judged) and shared simple, fun dance videos with my friends and family. I interned at Google, which gave me an opportunity to have (virtual) coffee chats with Googlers across the world! Lessons from some of these conversations could be a blog post itself. When I lost an offer end moment because of international travel restrictions, I struggled to find something interesting. Ultimately I interned at MSR (in NLP) and the Quantum Physics Lab at RIKEN. I survived the second wave! I tried my hand at some bad poetry. I started a podcast. I did some random craft work, sometimes. I raised some funds for covid relief efforts through mentorship. I performed at an open mic. I joined an AMAZING startup! Yes, but it did not change how I felt: I was still wasting an exceeding portion of time. I was not satisfied with the work I was doing.

A constant recurring theme: feeling like you’re missing out on opportunities you’ve earned, missing out on experiences, general lack of drive. Over time, I’ve accepted them as a part of journey I was meant to take. A lot of this acceptance has come only with the benefit of hindsight. I have gained a lot more clarity with my explorations, come to an understanding about some priorities in my life and the tradeoffs I’m willing to make for that.

If you ask me now, what is it that I want to do five years later, I would not be able to give you a specific goal in terms of what I want to do with my career, but I do have in place some broader principles that are guiding me. I find this to be a very powerful situation to be in, because I’m not putting myself in a box, yet giving myself a direction. This process has also helped me become more acutely aware of my goals outside my career.

There are many, many things I’m truly grateful for. I made two of my best friends today in the past year. I got to spend a lot of time with parents. I had some very inspiring conversations, some have simply stayed with me . My favourite ones (outside of Sundial and the podcast) have been with Gaurav, Kalika, Aamar, Sanket Pathak and Sanket Gupte . All the time I got to spend with Julie, Chandra, and the rest of the team at cafes and parks in Indiranagar have been surreal. There’s so much I have learnt from them, and so much more that I am yet to! Feedback is a gift, and I’m grateful to have received some constructive feedback from Prasad and Satyajeet. In many ways, a cold email to Julie changed my year. Excitement at Sundial has been so infectious, and I am so grateful I took that leap of faith.

with a few of my colleagues!

When I look back, last year has been a lot about explore to me. This year, I want to focus on getting from ‘meh’ to ‘ok’ and ‘good’ and get better at my work ethic.

Two of them many things I want to get better at:

I want to get better at being able to breakdown complex topics in simple words without using obscure convoluted logic. I want to be able to clearly set enough context and depth based on the audience. I see some of my colleagues do it very well! I need to be better at to two things:

  1. Have a clear in-depth grasp of the concept and a breadth of understanding of things related to the topic.
  2. Be a good storyteller! Structure well and improve my command of the language

I’ve come across many posts where leaders speak about the importance of being able to present their views politely, but affirmatively. (The first was probably at an #IAMRemarkable session by google if my memory serves me right) As I noticed my choice of words more closely, I realised that when I am trying to make a point or share my feelings, I supplement it with Buts and Maybes to invalidate, or sideline what I was saying in the first place. Is this common?

While I want to get communicate affirmatively, I wanna become a better listener, and be able to think on my feet.

Confidence definitely comes from being good at what you do, but I think a lot of confidence also stems from being comfortable with failing in public. And so I’ve decided to write a note every week, and get better at the above things by practice.

I wouldn’t assume anyone but my closest friends interests in my notes to self, however, if you do read these, please gift me feedback.

I chose to start with self-reflection, as that is what is on my mind as I enter 2022.

There it is. 1/52.

Looking forward to a year of adulting and trying to get better at what I do! Omicron, please don’t mess my plans.

Happy New year!

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