Goodbye, 2021

I began 2021 with magical expectations. After all, the previous year (2020) had been hard. I was holidaying in Goa when the lockdown was announced. Stranded in Mumbai, away from my family, suddenly not having access to help, and constantly feeling scared of the unknown, my mental health was not at its best. 2020 ended on a good note, however, with me celebrating the end of the year with my loved ones. I prayed and longed that the difficult times were behind us and geared up for the new year with excitement and hope. Alas, I was in for a rude, rude shock…

In 2021, the second wave of the coronavirus was a cataclysmic storm. So many lives were tragically lost, and there just did not seem to be enough space to hold the grief, pain, and suffering the devastating pandemic brought our way. As a mental health professional, I felt like an imposter. How was I going to be able to help people cope with their mental health concerns when my own mental health was in shambles? To what extent could therapy help? My anxiety was off the roof, and I was constantly distracting myself with work, work, some bits of Netflix, work, work, and then some more work. If one were to measure success with reference to productivity and hustling, I was a winner! But no amount of glory, professional or personal, can compensate for the loss of your peace of mind – that was one of the biggest lessons 2021 taught me.

The year also brought its way a reminder that nothing lasts forever; and not all our loved ones, we lose to death; sometimes, we just outgrow or disconnect from them in ways that cannot be repaired. And maybe it isn’t a bad thing. Afterall, just when the caterpillar thought that life was over, cocooned in darkness and misery, it became a butterfly! I’ve outgrown and lost quite a few close relationships in the past one year, and it has been hard, and while there is a part of me that wishes it never had to go through all that amount of turmoil and pain, there is a version of me that feels proud of how far I’ve come, how I have prioritized my own needs over others’, and how it wasn’t all for nothing. There was a point, this year, when I pondered over the meaningless of existence. “If nothing lasts forever, what is the point of my being?” I often questioned. I wish there was an easier way, but as cliché as it sounds, time really is the best healer. The struggles, the battles, that you fight today prepare you for a brighter tomorrow, even though it won’t ever feel that way while you are fighting through the dark storms. You will get through it and emerge stronger, victorious, and completely standing in your own power.

You just need to trust. Even when you feel like you are falling. Even when you feel that you are falling into an endless, bottomless pit of devastation, and cannot feel your limbs, and can feel your guts in your mouth. Especially, then. Because that is the moment that will make you realize that you need to fly. And fly, you will. Even if you feel you can’t. Even if you feel it isn’t possible. It will happen. It will happen for you. It will happen to you. Trust the process. Good things will come your way. Today, a caterpillar. Tomorrow, a butterfly. You really are a butterfly waiting to happen. This year, I’ve been at war with trust. As a person who likes staying in control and on top of things, the unpredictability and uncertainty the pandemic and this year, in particular, has brought my way, has messed my relationship with simply trusting and being. It’s not a great space to be. But this year has taught me the value of gentleness. I am being kinder to myself and holding space for all that I am feeling – the “good” and the “not-so-good” feelings. Thankfully, like everything else, feelings aren’t permanent. They come and go.

Since nothing in life is permanent, when you are having a good time, cherish it, value it, and lovingly immerse yourself into experiencing it to the fullest. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Maybe, something better; that’s what we shall hope…

Hope is what has kept me afloat from one day to the next. And hope can sometimes be found in the most unexpected of places – a random smile from a stranger could be read as hope for connection, drinking a hot cup of lemon tea with your loved one as hope for a few precious moments of comfort. Even your friend sending you a random post on Instagram is hopeful – that something, somewhere, may awaken you, inspire you, and make you feel like getting out of bed. In so many tiny, uncelebrated ways, hope is a mighty ocean, and hope is how we row onwards – sometimes, to seek new shores, sometimes, to find our way back home.

I am so grateful for crossing paths with so many wondrous beings this past one year who have inspired me by their tales of strength and resilience. As a mental health professional, I feel blessed to be able to witness the extraordinariness inside of people, and I never take for granted the sacred space we co-create to share inner worlds so intimately. My clients are people who constantly inspire me by their resilience and determination to transform. I am so lucky to be witnessing their humanness in full glory, and I am grateful they give me a chance to do the same. My biggest lesson from 2021 is to acknowledge my own humanness, and the humanness of others. Life happens to all of us. Perfection isn’t a possibility, but compassion is.

Here’s hoping 2022 to be a kinder, gentler year for me, you and the rest of humanity. Cheers!

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