So it's New Year's Eve and I'm going to do one of those end of the year posts that is super cliche and expected but you know, WHATEVER because it's a great way for me to reflect! It doesn't feel at all like the New Year, and I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because there are a lot of bigger things on my mind this year than to focus on New Year's Day. Maybe because things feel more like a continuation than a fresh start. Yeah, I think that's it actually. It doesn't feel this year as if I'll be able to start new goals or anything major will change with the year number changing, rather as if everything that has happened this year will just jump the page onto a new month. Maybe this is what getting older does to you...

I think the beginning of an academic year begins to feel more like the "New Year" than New Year's Day itself because that's when all the real starting fresh begins. Regardless, there is a lot of emotions that I've had to roller coaster through, and here are just some of the biggest things I remember, have learned from, and have made the biggest impact on me.

1. Being in charge of a team is not an easy job. Making decisions and having conflicts with co-captains, balancing between asserting authority and being fun, dealing with administrative work, and fighting every desire to just give up - they've all been very difficult things to do. Becoming a Dhoom captain, I didn't expect it to be this difficult, but truly, props to every leader out there, especially the president. Dhoom made me an emotional mess both spring and fall semester this year, but the product that we put out and the closeness I developed with my incredible group of girls because of it made it all worthwhile. Some things to remember:

         > Disagreement between leadership is a natural part of making decisions for a group, and the decision you want will not necessarily be the one that is taken every time. You have to learn to be okay with that and make the best of what everyone thinks is best.

         > Ups and downs are also a natural part of a team's functioning, so it's best to make the best of any situation you are in without getting too serious about it or becoming too invested in it emotionally. It's best to believe that things will work out for the best even when times get difficult.

         > I chose to be a leader because I love dancing so remember that that is what this whole thing is about. We dance because we love to dance, so don't lose sight of the goal.

2. I'm old enough to start standing up for my own decisions and seeing them through. My parents don't control every decision that I make. I made some really difficult decisions this semester that included pushing back my MCAT date, taking a gap year before medical school, and going to China this summer against my parent's wishes for me to. Personally dealing with these decisions as well as hearing my parent's disappointment on me making these choices has been one of the most difficult things I've had to do this year, but I accept that it's a part of growing up and a part of them letting me go. It's hard to explain everything I've felt through this process, but some words might be frustration, failure, fear, and a lot of the other f-word you're probably thinking of too. My whole life I've felt like I could do anything that I set my mind to when I needed to, and here I am pushing back an exam because I'm not prepared for it. I'm taking a gap year because my application isn't strong enough and I don't want to do school after school after school for my entire 20s. Gap years are not in the Indian mindset where you get through all your schooling, and your life only truly begins when you have a stable job and a family. Honestly, I can see where that ideal comes from, but I want to live now. I want to enjoy this process, not just get it over with.

I'm doing what makes sense to me. I've made informed decisions and I've kept everything in mind. I'm using the skills that my parents taught me, but I'm not going to ruin my life if I stray slightly off the path. It's a difficult thing to explain to people that want to carve a path to success for you and put up walls along it so you don't stray because they care about you too much for you to lose sight of the goal. It's ironic how hard it is to strike the balance between loving and respecting your parents and putting your foot down on what you truly believe in. At least it is for me. But I'm doing it, finally.

3. Our country has a lot of shit going on, but then again so does every country. Let's not kid ourselves though that we've come so far and provide "equal opportunities for everyone." This year more than ever I've understood the disparity there is between treatment of men and women and the things that women have to deal with more and more as we get older. A lot of injustice happens in this country for people of color and for women and for homosexuals and for more or less everyone who is not a white straight man. Maybe for you too, white straight men, but just let's focus on the rest of us for a second. The benefits of living in America may outweigh these costs, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our best to tip the scale and remove as many costs as we can. I've learned that if the least that you can do is discuss and have conversation and create awareness of these things as they happen and make people feel something about it, you should really do it. It's worth it. I'm not going to pretend I could be an activist, because I truly don't think I could, but I am willing to discuss the issues.

4. Distance has, in fact, made the heart grow fonder. :)

5. The fact that I've questioned my character quite a few times in the last 6 months says a lot about my character. I need to learn to trust my instincts on who the right person for me to be is. It's really hard when there are pressures coming from every direction to be a certain person, but that's my decision, right? At least in the American culture it is, but then again am I just American? Sigh, not sure if I solved this one yet.

I'm sure there's more stuff that I thought was important earlier this year, but I feel the past 6 months have been the most impactful. I guess it's also important to say that my friends have been incredible for me in the past year more than ever, helping me through so many things that I could have never done on my own. Thank you guys so much! I've become so much closer to my family this year too, which has been beyond wonderful. I think this is all stuff I've already written about in earlier posts though, hehe.

And now for an outlook on the coming year.

1. Spend this semester learning things I love: neuroscience and Chinese and dance.
2. Study MCAT so that next time someone asks me how it's going, I don't have to say that I haven't studied enough.
3. Have an incredible time in China this summer.
4. Hopefully get my dance team into a competition and have a fun don't-stress-about-dance semester.
5. Some other stuff I'll figure out later hehe.

I don't think I should make a resolution because, let's be honest. But I guess my general resolution is to try and revive my motivations and an excitement rather than a fear for the future. In turn, this will probably help me work harder. Hopefully, fingers crossed.

Happy New Year everybody, hope your year has been meaningful and next year will be as well. :)

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