Oh, what an amazing transformational this year has been! I’ve been contemplating writing this review for many days. The reason why I was holding myself back from doing so was mainly that the kind of successes I’ve had this year doesn’t look good on paper. It was more on the personal growth level which can not be measured on a scale. Neither can it be shown to someone else. It could simply felt. It is only for yourself.
I wondered if I could really call it a success at all. Isn’t it strange how we only consider things that are measurable as real success? I had this conversation with my coach, Jen Carrington, a few weeks back and it made me want to question the way I was approaching seeing myself and things successful.
Let me tell you a story.
A story of how far I’ve come in this year, where I was standing and where I am now.
I hit publish on a blog post on the 2nd January 2019 titled, ‘Why I didn’t write *almost* any blog posts in 2018’. It was by far my most read blog post until this date. I wanted to write. I wanted to share what I had to say. It felt like I couldn’t hold myself back anymore once I hit publish on that post. Earlier, I was not acknowledging how much I wanted to write, learn how to curate words, uncover my voice and claim it. I made a commitment to myself to start writing every week. A commitment to myself. My favourite kinds of commitments. For the love of writing. For the sake of practicing the craft of curating words, conveying feelings and sharing what I find otherwise too hard to share. Writing for myself. Writing to understand myself better. Writing to express myself better. I have learned through experience that I process my thoughts better when I am writing. I developed the habit of writing in my journals for as long as I remember. It slipped away. I used to only go back to it when things got tense and overwhelming. It used to make me feel better. But then again I let it fade away somewhere along the way.
Making such a commitment was the kind of push I needed to keep showing up for myself. I haven’t been as much consistent as I wanted to be but I have written 69,586 words in 2019. This count is for the blog posts only. I have written and shared a lot more via my fortnightly newsletters and Instagram captions. Isn’t it bloody brilliant?
A few things that I am proud of making happen this year:
I was feeling almost desperate to make things happen. I was dwelling on the list of shoulds that were not sitting well with me. I was feeling like an outcast for wanting the things I was finding myself wanting. Building a creative work and life practice along with a sustainable and fulfilling business. I reached out for help and hired myself a creative coach and her generous support every step of the way has made all the difference for me.
Last year, I chose a word for the year, courage. I wanted to see what the braver me is capable of doing. I wanted to challenge the voice of my inner critic and make space for roaming in the wild and taking risks. I am feeling proud to share that I lived up to my word of the year and tried some scary stuff which you will see appearing in the next few points.
If you are here for a while, you’d know that I love to paint. I used to fantasize about it but I was too scared to try and fail. This year I gave myself permission to become a beginner. I did a 100 day project of unapologetic painting. I was too afraid to commit to one subject matter so I kept it open. I painted for straight 100 days. It felt amazing. I was making time to paint. I was looking at my fear of sucking at it right in the eyes. I was open to experimentation as I knew there will be another day tomorrow and another painting for me to get on with. It let my perfectionist rest and take the back seat. Not all of them are amazing but I enjoyed each and every one of them and that is what matters the most right? Click here to have a look around at the project.
Sold a piece of art:
I began the 100 day project and I chose to do it publically as I was craving the accountability and support. I was also sharing my process and time-lapses on the stories on Instagram. Someone sent me a DM asking about the painting and if I was open to selling it. I was ecstatic. I would love to. Before starting those painting I was conscious if I would be able to sell them or they would end up collecting dust somewhere in the house. But that burden was too much. This kind of financial pressure and expectations from your work doesn’t leave room for experimentation. I needed a space to experiment and see what I am capable of. I sat down and made peace with the fact that I won’t define how worthy I am and my paintings are on the basis of them getting sold or not. But getting that DM on the 5th day boosted my confidence. I sold my first ever painting via Instagram. It made me believe in myself a little more.
That newly found believe led me to decide that I wanted to display my artwork for sale but with the mindset that I am painting for myself. If it gets sold, well and good but if it doesn’t that is okay too! I launched an ETSY shop.
LYT Membership Community:
Ever since I started this online adventure, I had been craving the support of a community. I figured there must be lots of other people craving something similar too. I decided to curate that space and launch a membership community. I was scared as I had never really launched anything before. Launching to me means mentioning in my newsletter and sharing it on my Instagram text-based stories or on the grid posts. I was aiming to develop a more horizontal community. I announced it, invited people in, had a few inquiries but no one booked. I was devastated. I did a scary thing and it didn’t work out. But it made me wiser. I learned a few things I would have never learned otherwise. I am going to shift things around and launch it again in 2020.
Living Your Truth podcast:
I had been dreaming about the idea of this podcast for two whole years. I wanted to explore it. Experiment with it. It felt like the perfect spot for the introvert in me to connect and share my ideas with the world but I was too damn scared. Choosing courage made me do it. I started with the baby steps. I announced it on social media. I added it to Instagram Bio to make it real. I sat down and answered some tough questions. Recorded an intro. Chose music. Taught myself audio editing. It was all going well until I had to actually make a plan and start asking guests to come on and share a conversation with me. I was too nervous. I was too scared to ask and get no for an answer as it felt like a no to me as a person. Rejection. But I did it anyway. I started asking people and to my surprise, they were interested and loving the idea of the podcast. I recorded the episodes. I edited them. Taught myself all the required technicalities. I submitted my podcast to iTunes and waited. It got approved and I launched it on the 15th of November as promised. It felt h.u.g.e. It is huge. Isn’t it? I am almost done with the first season of it already. There is only one more episode to go, one more story to be shared before I wrap up the first season of the podcast. You can listen, subscribe and leave a review this way.
Around the web:
I have heard many times that if you do quality work, your work will be shared as it will resonate with people. I am a big believer in quality content, organic reach and non-sleazy marketing. This year was amazing as my work was resonating and I was being asked to share more of my work. In turn, I have been showing up around the web. I have written this article for a brilliant new project by Jen Carrington, build a better day. I participated in Ruth Poundwhite’s everyday difference project and just recently, I was interviewed by Caroline on building an introvert-friendly business – quietly extraordinary. In addition to all this, I adored reading each and every single reply to my letters in my inbox or snippets of them shared on social media. It means the world to me seeing how my work is resonating and holding space for others. This is the kind of impact I want to have with my work. It makes my heart sing.
This year was way better than the last year. Last year I was frozen, almost paralysed to share anything online. I was too scared of taking up space and claiming some for myself. This year I kept showing up and connecting in whatever capacity I could on social media. (When I say social media, I mean Instagram. That is the platform I use to connect and curate a community around my work. Mainly because I like how visual it is but also because of how supportive the community on Instagram is. Facebook gives me the creeps. I find it haunting and all those ads make me want to puke. Too much noise. And I don’t know how to use or navigate Twitter. Someone teach me, please?) The collage up above were my top 9 photographs of the year.
Built a ton of wonderful habits that make me feel joyful and great in my body. It includes a morning routine, morning pages/ journaling, going to yoga three times a week, getting out of the house more often, going for meetups locally and seeking help in the form of therapy.
Challenges of 2019:
The first taste of failure:
The community that I launched and it didn’t get any sign-ups. I was too scared to launch it in the first place. Ever since I have set up this website and made work with me page, impostor syndrome had been kicking my ass. I made that page knowing that I was capable of helping someone who has been struggling with something similar that I have struggled with. But that impostor syndrome never let me share about it confidently anywhere. As a result, I hadn’t had a single booking. I was too scared to find out that no one needed my services and I set that stage myself by never mentioning and letting people know what I had to offer which means: no income.
Mindset and limiting beliefs:
I discovered how my own mindset and limiting beliefs were standing in my way. Especially when it comes to money. I was surprised to see how many stories and limiting beliefs I had around money and how I was making those money stories become reality. It is harder than I thought. My belief that money is supposed to be hard didn’t let me allow money to flow easily towards me. It is still a work in progress.
If you look at the list above, you would not believe that all this time, I was battling with perfectionism. It was challenging. I was repeating this mantra over and over again, sometimes believing it and other times doubting it, good is good enough.
The good girl syndrome:
After reading this blog post by Tara Mohr, I discovered how I am letting the old ways stand in my way. How we are taught and raised to believe someone else knows better than us instead of believing and trusting ourselves. I found myself constantly trying to fill those information voids by taking on more and more information, buying courses and learning to do each and everything by myself. Through this experience, I have learned that being an expert is a myth. I can’t possibly become one because there is way too much information out there than I can possibly consume and conclude in the number of hours I have available in my hands.
It had been a real challenge for me this year. I didn’t know before launching this website and this business idea that I was signing myself up for a self-development course. It brings all the insecurities right in front of you. Also, believe me, when I say this, it is so much easier to work for someone else than to work for yourself. I have learned to become the CEO and employee both at the same time.
Not knowing where I am going:
It is hard to begin when you have no idea where you want to go. This is one of the reasons why I take too much time taking the plunge. I am always too vested in knowing exactly where this will lead me. I guess it connects very well with the perfectionist tendencies. This also reminds me of the conversation I had with Giulia on the podcast, figuring things out as we go. It is one of the most popular episodes and I absolutely love her take on it. Have a listen here.
The above-mentioned list is only comprised of the work-related things that made me grow on a more personal level. There is a long list of things related to my personal life that happened this year which also includes health challenges among others which I am choosing not to share publically but it is worth mentioning that it is not the whole picture that I am painting. There is way much more to it than I am mentioning here.
Some Learnings of 2019:
- There is a season for everything: Creativity, growth, nurturing, expansion, rest and recharge.
- All the answers you seek are within you.
- If you are not going to believe in yourself, it will be very hard to convince someone else to believe in yourself.
- It is okay to want what you want and perfectly okay to ask for it.
- You are not selfish to put your own well-being first.
- Your worth is inherent and not dependent on how productive you were or how well you responded to others’ expectations of you.
- Any relationship [be it friendship, familial, romantic] which costs us our sense of worth, is a relationship we cannot afford to invest in. Words via @themindgeek concluded it way better than I could.
- You are in your own timeline.
- Trust that you will figure it out as you go.
- It doesn’t have to be extraordinary for your story to matter. The mere fact that it is your story is enough for it to matter.
- It doesn’t have to be over-complicated to be worth sharing. It could be simple.
- Start small and scrappy, always. Work with what you already have. Begin with the least viable thing instead of obsessing over perfecting something.
- You don’t have to be an expert. You can be a contributor to the subject.
There it is. My year 2019 in a review. It really was a transformative one for me. I am still contemplating my intentions for 2020 and the word to guide me in 2020. Watch this space and I will soon be sharing them. If your year also doesn’t look good on paper but it has been a transformational one for you in terms of personal growth, I’d say, celebrate it. It is the kind of growth we need to celebrate more. It is the most important kind of work.
More than anything, thank you for being a part of all this. Thank you for reading, listening, sharing your feedback and supporting me every step of the way. I am grateful for every single comment, like, share and reply. Even if you never got around to like, share or comment but you being here is what means the world to me. You have been an integral part of my growth this year. So thank you!
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