I usually don’t do these reflections, but 2023 was a tumultuous year to put it mildly.

It was a stressful first half, my grandpas - (one was my maternal grandfather, and the other was my mom’s uncle) passed away just one month apart from each other. They lived under the same roof for about 30 years almost like brothers. Might be odd, why was I close to my mom’s uncle? Well, my childhood has always been unique and so has been my mom’s. My mom spent the greater part of her childhood with her aunt, uncle, and grandparents, because well you know, fathers are mostly absent. No disrespect to my late grandfather but that just seems to be the universal rule of dads.

My grandfathers were almost like a father figure to me, I was very close to both. They were my biggest cheerleaders and were genuinely happy to see me succeed. Miss you both, thathas. I will make you proud and I hope you can cheer me from above..

Add to that a failed relationship and quite a bit of shit on the personal front, it is not surprising that I had a full-blown panic attack. I went to the emergency room at midnight, the doctor was pretty sure I wasn’t having a heart attack, but he took an ECG just to make sure. Spoiler alert: everything was fine with me, physically at least.

Those few months were a particularly stressful period, it put tremendous strain on my relationship and friendships. A lot of it could’ve simply been solved by being vulnerable with people and telling them I was going through deep shit. The refusal to seek help hurt me quite a bit. I’m sorry to all those I pushed away.

Second half, I finally left my hometown and moved to the US for my masters. Which means I also quit my job, a job I liked and a team I enjoyed working with. But I was saturating, and I knew it - a big factor was that I was growing tired of Chennai and was longing to get out. Thinking back, why was I in such angst? I was never in the present, always preoccupied with the future or the past. Five months away from my home, I now long for the humid hellhole with its beaches. The mind is quite a thing. Grass is always greener.

What I’ve learnt is wherever you go you only go with yourself. Of course, environment matters, but most happiness lies within (Cliche, yeah, yeah). But glad I left, only now can I think of all the things I could’ve done back home, why did I feel so trapped in my own city that I’ve lived for so long? I will never see home the same way again.

I didn’t make as many friends as I thought I would at Uni, yeah, of course I spoke to people and stuff but there was little on the deeper side of things. I had a wall and was lost in my own head most of the time. Mental note to change this in 2024.

There are still worries, so much to do, so much to sort out going into 2024 but being anxious all the time is not going to help me. The biggest lie I kept telling myself was - “I will be happy after X happens.” The problem is X is ever changing, the goalpost is always moving. For so long I ran after what’s next, but this year around I think it is time to optimize for my happiness.