In an attempt to make sense of the past year, I prowled through the some 1500 pages of plaintive nonsensical essays I had written in 2016 – some typed, some handwritten, others tagged as an excerpt to be used in a future best seller – but all revealing access to an inner world of feelings written without the worry of judgment. Some of you may have noticed that it has not been a great year. 2016 was littered with disasters and diseases; the devastation to humanity violently created by our inability to temper our wishes and tolerate our differences, and finally death of many treasured individuals of better times.
I try to view the past year with a mental configuration in which I was a part of a melodramatic biopic and see everything in it through a camera on a set. Part of this infatuation of considering my experience from a cinematic distance, is a way for me to record the present moment while also making sense of the 100 other things that happened simultaneously while trying to keep myself and a team in a tech startup afloat in Southeast Asia.
I was determined to start the year with a combative stance against authority, one that is serious in its aesthetics and its attitude. In that I found myself losing touch with finesse, grace and attention – all qualities that kept me sane throughout my life. I knew early that time would be fleeting, and so I decided to overlook much of the year’s aggravations except insofar as they added grit and drama to my cinematic story.
Some of these include growing the ServisHero team by 3 folds, setting up shop in Thailand, and traveling to new places and meeting many incredible people along the way. Looking back, I am grateful for the conversations I’ve had, the debates that struck a chord and even the dismal undertone that punctuated many months on end. 2016 meant investing in my professional development, trying to cultivate self-effacement in the workspace, and demoting the frivolous on my collective scale of values. Ok, maybe that is bit of an overstatement, but it meant carrying an honest self-inventory, despite all the inherent risks.
But this year was a reality check – like how Brexit and the election of Donald Trump made me realize that the Britain and the America I knew and grew to love were a fabrication of my confined veracity. Like saying what you mean and meaning what you say and considering forthrightness as expressive possibilities can have severe consequences. And how being all common sense and mordant humour, at ease in your own skin doesn’t mean that the world is ready to embrace you.
Stepping into the new year, I doubt there’ll be any changes to my fragile idealism of what’s expected of myself and the world around me. But I’d like to encompass a year free from pretension and self-doubt. Looking forward, I think the policy is not to look at life through the camera lens, but live on the other side. To really live it – not as a cameraperson but as the leading lady who isn’t conscious of the scrutiny of others. Having said that, I have realised that its not enough to merely concoct some lofty outline of what you want out of life and wait for the details to sort themselves out. When 2017 knocks on your front door, clutch the knob tightly and open on up. Run forward into its wide spread greeting arms with your hands before you, your fingertips trembling though they may be.
I am no arbiter of what this past year means to all of us. Sure, there were times when 2016 felt like starring into a dark abyss, or when concerns of personal and professional future prospects could be equated to minor existential crises. But when you’re looking in on the experience through an allegorical camera lens, you see clearly the questions of who you were and who you are becoming, and all these stirrings contain within them the same kind of electricity and euphoria that touch many who witness a changeover over a complete lifetime.