India’s Viral Conqueror of 2021 – Caught in the Eye of the Storm

India’s Viral Conqueror of 2021 – Caught in the Eye of the Storm

As an Indian residing in the United States, it’s hard to truly know the extent of your ancestral country’s hardships…that is until you are caught in the middle of one. The COVID-19 pandemic had struck the world hard in 2020, leaving most to hope 2021 would be better. Well, we’re in April of 2021, and India is in absolute despair due to a sudden outburst of the virus that is running rampant throughout the country and breaking all pandemic records till date. Innocently, I was traveling to India for urgent reasons and to spend time with my grandparents & family, knowing the pandemic could take anyone we loved without discrimination at any time. Having taken all necessary precautions advised – negative tests before traveling & on arrival, masks on masks for protection, and various hand sanitizers and disinfectants always handy – it seemed the trip would go as expected. My trip began and everything was seemingly going as planned, when suddenly reports came rushing through that India was seeing record increases in COVID cases and the High Court sent notices to all states imploring them to take significant actions to control the aggressively worsening situation.

Stranded in the Middle of a Biological Conquest

At the time I was heading to Delhi, my usual residence because my grandparents and most of my family resides in and surrounding the Capitol, when we were informed that the city was implementing strict curfews and considering a full lockdown. With optimism, I continued my journey to Delhi in hopes that the curfew would be manageable and the condition would improve as it had in 2020. Needless to say, that is not how things progressed. Within days the situation worsened, forcing the capital of Delhi and the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (MP), and Karnataka were entering full lockdowns for the rest of the month until they could reassess the situation. If that wasn’t terrifying enough for someone in the middle of interstate transit, we received word that my grandmother, my Nani, was down with COVID along with a few other family members. As per the pandemic restrictions, my destination was now inaccessible because we could not enter Delhi and my reason for coming was postponed because my Nani’s house and all individuals living there would get locked down until officials determined it was clear of the virus. So as I sat in my Haryana hotel, I realized that I was potentially stranded in a country rampant with the pandemic.

…I had to get home without stopping, all the while observing the India I love react to its present conqueror.

They say that trauma survivors live in survival mode and that it’s not a way to live, yet what kicks in during a time like this are those exact survival instincts. What people deem as paranoia or overly-cautious become necessary perspectives and precautions in order to make it through such a situation. In the middle of a pandemic, in a country where women are not safe in normal scenarios such as on the highways (definitely not at night), and in a situation where lockdowns mean increased poverty for those who can’t run their businesses and resort to thievery, survival instincts come in the form of do-what-you-need-to-in-order-to-survive-worry-about-everything-else-later. I was already considering a break from the world because of almost-burnout from my work life (first world issues of course), but the situation made the choice that much clearer – I needed to step away from the world and focus on making it through physically and mentally however I needed to. Rather than enjoy my transit by reading my e-books or listening to music, I managed my battery-life purely for GPS and emergency purposes for the lengthy drive I had to get home without stopping, all the while observing the India I love react to its present conqueror.

As I travelled through the country, I took away two things: 1) India is unrecognizable when its people are nowhere to be seen and falling apart and 2) somehow people retain their humanity and are still able to enjoy life in the midst of it all.

The India I Cannot Recognize

Since the onset of the pandemic, many countries have imposed “lockdowns”, but not all have been quite as strict in their rules around these lockdowns as others. India is an interesting case because it falls within both perspectives on lockdown methods. There are states which imposed the lockdown and enforce it with armed guards, fines, and police brutality (the brutality varying depending on your state and what lockdown rule you broke). Then there are states that are more worried about the stereotypical perspective of “log kya kehenge” (translation: what will people say) that they are hiding the true impact of the pandemic on the state in question by not reporting the true number of cases and deaths, and leave the lockdown/curfew enforcements up to each municipality. The latter method almost always resulting in many villages and smaller towns closing some institutions but not all, not actively enforcing masks, and definitely not restricting large gatherings in marketplaces during non-curfew times.

What’s worse is that these states and their people would like to abide by the procedures and guidelines, but not all can. Those villages and smaller towns are actually grateful that they are not being forced to follow lockdown rules because they can’t afford it. If they did, the people would not necessarily survive irrespective of the virus. The farmer who is already run down by the months of aggravated agricultural regulation upheavals from the current administration must continue to work on the farm to keep one’s family alive with the food from the fields and the money it brings in by bringing the goods to the big cities and selling them in open markets. Not continuing their work would result in more harm to more people and they need the exceptions or leeway their state allows.

It almost feels like the scene in Sholay just before Gabbar makes his entry to attack the village; the calm before the proverbial storm.

Sholay is considered among the best Hindi films of all time – Hindustan Times

At the same time, if you were to enter an area fully enforcing the lockdown or during the strict curfew hours, it’s as though the world as we know it has disappeared. The streets are empty, besides a bull, cow, or dog casually roaming the seemingly abandoned vicinity. The store fronts are locked shut and all the lights are out. The wind blows the dust around the streets uninterrupted, not a being for miles at a stretch, and you can see the heat of an Indian summer reflecting off the highway with barely a vehicle in sight. It’s as though the human race has disappeared altogether. It almost feels like the scene in Sholay just before Gabbar makes his entry to attack the village; the calm before the proverbial storm (See the epic Bollywood movie to understand the reference).

The only places where things get lively as they never did before are at the highway toll booths where delivery trucks are showing their lockdown exception passes, waiting for interstate transit approval, and around medical facilities. Pre-pandemic, these facilities only ever had a security guard or two to perform the usual checks before entry – standard vehicle and bag scans. Now in the face of a pandemic on steroids, the larger facilities have police support and the surrounding streets of major cities have armored vehicles because the facilities are getting out of hand. It’s one thing to hear of the impacts of the virus on one’s community in a place you remember so beautifully, and entirely another to experience its devastation first hand.

Indians Always Remember the Importance of Life

Even as the pandemic rears its very ugly head, the worst of situations still has the country buzzing with communal support and moments of pure joy. I have travelled to various countries, and nowhere have I seen people come together for humanity, try to survive together, while still finding time to truly enjoy happy moments, as they have here.

As the cases in India rise, the community response has simultaneously increased domestically and internationally. Every news channel, media outlet, and individual social media presence is actively sharing the latest status and resources. The resources ranging from domestic information on where oxygen tanks have become available to international sponsorship & donations to send more supplies. It is amazing to see how the global South Asian community has banded together in one nation’s time of need to send not only money & medical devices, but also advocate and lobby their respective governments to stand with humanity and support India however they can.

The South Asian diaspora is known to be full of diverse traditions and colorful celebrations across regions, languages, and religious beliefs, and in this country that represents so many of the aforementioned, the brilliance of the cultures remains vibrant even during such a dreadful time. Although the Indian government could do a MUCH better job of providing strict guidelines around how to celebrate key traditions and religious/sporting/personal events to contain the spread of the virus, the Indian people are finding ways to still celebrate the happy moments amongst the madness. From the safety and comfort of my hotel room, I can hear nearby homes and people rumbling with pure exaltation when their favorite team excels in the Cricket IPL, or the grace and joy of coming together with the family they still have for iftaar, or even gleefully enjoying the time they finally have with the people they love while watching their sitcoms and latest Bollywood movies. Many are gratefully following protocol with their masks and social distancing, while others have rested their full faith on their religions in choosing to assemble within protocols, knowing full well that they are taking a risk, all in the belief that these moments with their loved ones – for what could be the last time – is worth it. Either way, in the midst of the traumatic state of the country, there is some joy and it is beautiful to witness.

What Needs to Be Done & How You Can Help

As the news in India rages on about the pending government elections (the least of priorities from a humanitarian standpoint), followed by the rampage of immoral folks blasphemously stealing and selling oxygen machines & necessary medicine on the black market, Indians are faced with the pandemic survival dilemma: stay in and follow lockdown/curfew procedures or risk losing the people you love because you need to earn an income or need to get them medical support to survive any way you can. The result is that people are communicating almost by the minute that someone they love or know has passed away either from the virus or because of a separate, easily treatable medical issue that didn’t get the attention it normally would have. The medical infrastructure of a country inhabited by 1.4 billion people has been brutally exposed to the point that hotels and private institutions have been mandated by the government to act as hospital extensions to house more patients and medical services, and the nation must rely on allies to send support.

We’re losing people not just to the virus itself but also to the lack of services and medical equipment. India needs help and it needs it now. Here’s what you can do today:

If you’re in India

FACE THE FACTS & CHANGE THE COURSE

India has reached this point because many things failed – the government’s leadership, the medical infrastructure, and everyone’s common sense during a pandemic with regard to the importance of precautionary & proactive measures. It is time that each individual realize that their individual choices to forego the pandemic protocol can affect the nation.

  • Follow lockdown protocol. For starters, please take this straightforward approach. The protocols are put in place to protect you AND the people around you. If you are able to, stay home.
  • Take ALL precautions. If you need to leave your home for whatever reason, wear a mask, wash your hands as directed, and sanitize frequently. If you have been to a location where you were at risk, quarantine yourself for the next 14 days to ensure you don’t contribute to spreading the virus. DO NOT STOP doing taking these precautions because you have received a vaccine or because you think the location is sanitary. Even the experts don’t understand the virus and it’s variants enough to take such risks. Stay cautious.
  • Share resources. If you have information about local resources that can help someone, share it as far and wide as you can. You don’t know who needs it, and many do. Use your networks and platforms to share the information you have or have come across to spread it further. (see the list of resources below to get started)

If you’re outside of India

YOU CAN STILL HELP & YOU SHOULD

The world has enjoyed the knowledge and culture of India for eons and it is time to save that very same part of the world everyone has enjoyed for their own benefits.

  • Support/Donate. There are many Indian or South Asian organizations that are pooling funds to purchase medical equipment to send to India and to support families that do not have the funds to survive. Use the resources outlined below to guide you to the option that works best for you.
  • Advocate. Reach out to your elected officials and request their support for India. Your voice has an impact and can make a difference.

Resources


Dum hai is mitti mein
Jo humare ragon mein dhodta hai
Toh kaisa toofan hai yeh
Jo dum ko thodne pe tula hai

Inteha hai is yug ki
Mat jhuko mere yaar
Waqt hai saath mein ladne ka
Mil ke hi jeetenge is baar

Translation (adjusted for meaning):
There is strength in this earth
That runs through our veins
So what kind of storm is this
Hell bent on breaking this strength

This is a test of this era
So don’t bow down just yet friend
It’s time to fight together
For together is the only way to win

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 1: Time

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 1: Time

People often continue through life in the expectations of society and the community they are surrounded by, and spend all their time living up to those expectations. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that there is a set path we need to follow in order for life to be “successful” or “complete”. What is forgotten in this conditioning is that everyone is unique and has their own path to follow. Each individual gets to decide how they shape their life and success is defined by them and no one else. If there is anything to glean from this year, it is that life is unpredictable, so rather than waiting for society’s expected life moments to be happy or do the things we want to do, we should do those things now. We should make time for and design our life around what our hearts say our life needs. Most people wait to do that when they ‘retire’, but you don’t know what life will look like after 40 years, let alone tomorrow, so why wait to live it until then?

Holding back your passions or waiting to do the things you want to do in life is just preventing you from living your life to the fullest. In an effort to encourage y’all to live your best life, let’s recognize and celebrate what you gave time to in 2020. I want you to recognize what’s important to you and aim to give more time to those things in 2021.

For the last day of 2020, and Day 1 of Fast 5 of the Last 5, let us celebrate the time we gave to what was important to us.

Time Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things or people that you made time for in 2020.

1. The People I Love
2. My Passions
3. Self-Love
4. My Personal Growth
5. Life Goals

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate the value of what you gave time to.

Activity Reflection

This had to be the fastest yet slowest year we have experienced. It felt like life was slipping away and we were not able to make use of it as we originally intended and yet it was moving so torturously slow that it felt like the shenanigans of the year would never end. For those familiar with the game Jumanji, it definitely felt like someone started the game in the first quarter and each stage of the game was a new kind of crazy that we couldn’t wait to get past. Well it’s finally the last day of 2020, and I join everyone in the hopes that today runs smoothly and we just make it to tomorrow without anything falling apart. When the 31st of December comes each year, we tend to reminisce about all the things we’ve done this year – the good and the bad – as well as all the possibilities of the year to come. Since we tend to make time for the things we truly enjoy, and we spend time frivolously on everything else, I want to spend this last day thinking about the hours and days I spent on the things that I truly valued.

One of my greatest accomplishments this year was that I did make time for the life I love and the one I have wanted to live. Even before the pandemic hit, I had envisioned this year as one that I would spend building the foundation for the life I deserve. I initiated a lot of that work in the first few months, and when the pandemic hit, I actively chose to allocate time focusing on the tasks and lifestyle choices that aligned to that life. It was a struggle, as much of this year was, but I am proud that I was able to make some amazing strides and succeeded in making time for what mattered most to me.

To continue the theme of making time for the things that matter, I am not going to go into deeper reflections on my 5 things in hopes that you all spend today making time for what matters to you. Let’s spend the last day of 2020 celebrating not just the end of this year and the beginning of the next, but celebrating life itself and the fact that we get to live it!


In this life of mine
The unknown is time
To live life accordingly
Is the main goal of mine

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 2: Knowledge

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 2: Knowledge

The pandemic took a lot this year from the world, from families, and from our plans. What the pandemic or anyone else in this world cannot take away is knowledge. What you learn remains with you and becomes a part of who you are. My mother always taught me that there is a lesson to be learned from everyone and everything we encounter. Each conversation teaches you something about yourself, about that person, or about the topic being discussed. Each story you come across by reading, watching, or listening has a moral to take away. Most of all, each moment in your life is an experience that you grow from if you pay attention to what it is teaching you. It is this perspective that helps those who believe in “everything happens for a reason” stay committed to that belief because in a single moment you’ll either learn something immediately or, if you can’t figure it out just yet, you’ll know the lesson is coming. So whether you experienced something that left it’s mark, realized something about yourself, or picked up a new skill, this year was abound with opportunities to gain some knowledge and I want to hear all about it.

On Day 2 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020, let us celebrate all that we learned and will take into this next phase.

Knowledge Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things you learned in 2020. I’m very excited to share mine!

1. TikTok
2. Value of Nature
3. Hoarding is Handy
4. Dogs are the Best
5. Ukulele

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) because I want to know what you’ve learned!

Activity Reflection

Every year I try to focus on one thing I need to work on in my life. Since I already know I learn from people and experiences daily, I pick a bigger topic to address for the year overall that will take time to accomplish. This year, even without knowing that Covid-19 was going to overhaul the year’s plans, I had intended on pursuing my passions to make them more integral parts of my life. Prior to 2020, I dabbled in my passions from time to time when I felt like it or needed an outlet, but this year I wanted to make time for them every day because I recognized the value they added to my mood, my happiness, and my overall wellbeing. By the end of 2020, I ended up nurturing some passions while I also having learned some valuable life lessons.

TikTok

In my humble opinion, I believe TikTok and short-form video was a significant and positive outcome of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. The platform gave people confined to their homes a new form of entertainment that was quick, easily consumable, and actively engaging. The active engagement of course was and is optional, but became vital as people realized that they were beginning to become one with their furniture and needed some form of movement in their day. Although I did not jump on the TikTok or short-form video trend immediately, I thoroughly enjoyed consuming it and learning the value of this new channel of entertainment consumption and production. In the latter half of the year I began creating some content for TikTok as well as the Instagram contending functionality, Reels. I continue to learn about this platform as I explore it and intend to continue producing content for it. If you want to join the fun, check out my TikTok here and my Instagram here.

@__akiti__

A girl who loves Christmas like me 🎄😉 #Christmas2020 #agirllikemechallenge #girllikemechallenge #girllikeme @shakira @iamwill @blackeyedpeas

♬ GIRL LIKE ME – Black Eyed Peas & Shakira

Value of Nature

I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in my life having visited 14 countries and 48 states of the United States, and experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer across all of them. As such, I always enjoyed nature and respected it accordingly, but this year I saw how powerful it is that it could fight back so vastly that it crippled the human race. Nature pushed back on us so fiercely with Covid-19 that we were forced to be confined to our homes and could no longer continue the destruction we were inflicting on our habitat. During this confinement, I took the time to understand survival methods using what nature has to offer, the delicate balance of provider and destructor that it is, and how much of the modern products we use leverage what it has to offer but muddy it with synthetics. I enjoyed learning all that I did because it opened my eyes to so many cool aspects of nature I had not known previously, but also because I have a new sense of respect for what it is capable of.

Hoarding is Handy

Everyone witnessed the embarrassing manner in which folks attacked stores for the supplies they thought they needed in preparation for the global lockdown, but that is not the hoarding that I am referring to. Natural hoarders, like myself, have always bought supplies in bulk and maintain a constant stock to ensure that one is never without necessary items (and often unnecessary items, but ones that we cannot seem to bear parting with). When the pandemic was declared, my survival training kicked in and I immediately took inventory of what I had, how much I had, how long it would last, and what was missing. It was of no surprise to me or my friends that I had most of what I needed, and that stock would have lasted me about 3 months. In learning more about the virus and seeing the political reaction to it, I knew that I needed to have at least enough for 6 months if I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to leave my premises because my asthma puts me at a higher risk. Of course when I did enter stores, they were practically empty! The community had already panic bought and cleaned out supplies. I could not have been more grateful for my hoarding than in that moment because I got through the initial weeks of the pandemic on my original stock alone before gaining access to the additional supplies and stock I intended to maintain.

Dogs are the Best

My boys – the S Pirates – are my babies and I learned to cherish them even more than I already did! I am grateful that I got to spend so much extra time with my boys and they are ecstatic that I have been home 24/7 this year. What I learned in that time is that no matter what happens in life – with work, with relationships, with the world overall – the moment you look at or snuggle your fur baby, it all dissipates. In that moment, you feel such engulfing love, that you cannot help but be convinced that you have a companion to get through it all, no matter what. There were many days where the lockdown tested my trauma healing and the first thing I did whenever I felt low was take one fur baby into a snuggle and close my eyes. The peace I feel in doing that is inexpressible and I am so glad to have so many fur babies to experience that with. Knowing that they love me and are with me no matter what life throws our way, makes them one of the best parts of my life and I’ll never doubt that.

Ukulele

I learned to play a new instrument! When I visited Hawaii, I purchased a Hawaiian-made ukulele (correctly pronounced oo-koo-ley-ley) and I vowed at that moment to reengage in my musical passions. I’ve previously studied and trained in piano, harmonium, tabla, and Indian classical singing, but stopped everything years ago due to many reasons. I have always been musically inclined because I love the feeling of the music through me. Many may not understand what that means, but the vibrations one feels from different instruments in the way they strum, beat, or emit the sounds triggers something in each person differently. There is quite a bit of scientific literature on this, so I may explore that with you all at some point, but for now it is just important to note that it is a passion of mine that I had let go of many years ago and I was elated to bring it back into my life. I had always intended to learn this instrument virtually because my time was already so aggressively allocated that I felt virtual lessons were a good start. I was fortunate enough to find a teacher, Paul Elwood, via Lessons.com (a great place to find virtual teachers!) that had been hosting virtual classes for quite some time now, so when the lockdown was announced, my lessons were not impacted. I am proud to say that I have successfully learned one instrument and reignited this passion, so I hope to share more of it with y’all soon!


Life is full of lessons
If you could only see
Each experience is the key
To all the possibilities

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 4: Change

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 4: Change

Change is inevitable, yet it is one of the hardest things for us to accept. We often fear change because it falls within the realm of the unknown. Whether you are spiritual or not, it takes some level of trust or faith in the universe to be open to the unknown that life can and will bring. I like to think of changes as opportunities to grasp and grow from and today’s activity encourages you to do just that.

Welcome to Day 4 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down the days to the new year with 5 activities each day to celebrate your life!

Change Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or moments that changed for the better in 2020. Below are mine.

1. Worked From Home
2. Reallocated My Time
3. Clarified My Priorities

4. Removed Toxic People
5. Respected Myself

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate change together!

Activity Reflection

I was quite surprised by my list actually and what came to mind when I considered the things that changed for the better for me in 2020. It’s not that I don’t align with my list, because I’m actually perfectly aligned with it, but I spent some time afterwards thinking if I’m missing bigger changes. This goes back to our expectation that bigger is better when it comes to what is important in life. Once I wrote down my changes, I realized that they each play such a vital role in who I am at the end of 2020 and that’s what matters. This activity reminded me that I am a product of each choice in my life, no matter the value others place on those choices – big or small. I’m very happy with how 2020 has shaped me and the changes I’ve accomplished that make me elated to be alive.

Worked From Home

The moment companies prioritized or were forced to prioritize their employees’ health over productivity and place everyone on work from home status was a huge win for people and for the corporate world. Not only did it force people and companies to realize the value of the internet in making virtual interactions seamlessly successful, but it also displayed the value of a proper work-life balance. In reflecting on this further, I actually spun into a full blown rant on the subject, so I’ve decided this topic really deserves further elaboration as it’s own post at a later date (subscribe to see it in 2021!). For the purpose of this activity, what I will say is that this change reminded me why balance and boundaries between one’s work life and personal life is crucial. This balance allows one to feel fulfilled in both aspects of life and cherish both more because you are not forced to choose one over the other. This was a major paradigm shift that the world went through and I think it is just the beginning of the virtual world we are about to enter (cue The Matrix theme music). 

Reallocated My Time

Time management is something almost everyone struggles with and it became extremely necessary for me to change my approach to it this year. I was genuinely struggling with the excitement of additional time to work on my passions and my future goals and the workload I already had, which resulted in this constant feeling of getting pulled in too many directions. There eventually came a point when I shut down entirely and had to step away from it all, only to realize that each item is important to me in my life and I need to find a way to make it reasonably work. I recognized that if I want to work on each item, I need to find the right time allocation to give each the focus it needs without derailing other items. It’s taken almost all of 2020 to figure out the balance for me, and I finally employed a tactic I tried post-trauma which just last week finally clicked, making it clear to me how I want it all to work. I’m practicing the implementation of my strategy and things are finally looking promising! It’s a year-end change, so we’ll see the fruits of this change in 2021.

Clarified My Priorities

In the time I shut away from all interactions to figure things out, I realized that I was teetering on the verge of burning out once again and, along with time management, I needed to realign my priorities to give focus to the right things. I found that I was spending quite a bit of time on certain activities that were not in line with my future goals, and were just nice-to-have activities that I enjoyed. It’s not that one shouldn’t enjoy those activities, but they need to be de-prioritized in the face of actions related to ones’ goals, and they should be placed aside entirely when higher life priorities arise. It may seem small to some, but this was a special moment when I realized this and made the decision to take action on it. I found a methodology that works for me to prioritize my decisions in such a way that I achieve a little bit towards every goal without feeling like I’m missing out on other things.

Removed Toxic People

I lost one too many dear individuals this year – not to Covid-19, but to their toxic nature – and many have expressed how sad that is but have also experienced this. What I’ve realized is that it is not a loss, but a win that those individuals are no longer part of my life or have shifted from close friends to distant acquaintances. These individuals were my friends for many, MANY years and those closest to me know they were at one point my chosen family (some were biological family!). For me to call you my family means a lot and I don’t use it lightly. These individuals had done some pretty toxic things in the past, but being the overly-understanding and accepting person that I have been told I am, I looked past those things and loved them dearly anyway.

I did that because I followed my heart in believing that they were good people and convinced myself that they cared for me, too, because that’s what they said. If nothing else, life has taught me severely that when words do not match actions, you are playing with toxicity. So when these individuals took actions that disrespected me or they could not handle my dissenting opinion on matters, I finally chose to remove them entirely from my life or distanced myself enough that they no longer take respectable space in my heart or mind. It’s quite freeing actually to have taken this action, and that’s honestly how I knew it was one of the best changes in my life and one that has made me immensely happier.

Respected Myself

This defined my 2020. I have always been a cordial individual and maintained relationships even when people have hurt me (as I mentioned earlier) because I always felt my heart and mind were strong enough to withstand the hurt and not take it out on others the way others would do to me. What I’ve learned is…THIS IS WRONG. Everyone deserves to be treated well and respected, and if someone is treating you poorly, overlooking it or making excuses for their behavior because you’re “understanding” is just teaching them how to treat you. In case you missed it, they are disrespecting you and you are showing them that it’s okay because you won’t react to it. If you are unable to express your dissent towards something or are reprimanded for setting your boundaries, then please know that you are not the problem.

Any individual that you cannot have a dissent-driven discussion with or is not willing to accept or respect your boundaries is toxic and you should respect yourself enough to disengage from them entirely. I have had to learn this many times over the years, but in the past most of those people have cut me off. This year I worked on sticking by my beliefs & standards and setting my boundaries – a big change for me as it is contrary to my understanding nature – and I had to let go of many people I thought were my people because they showed me that they didn’t respect me. That’s when it really sunk in that you are truly better off respecting yourself and losing such individuals because the one’s that are meant to stay will do so and will respect you choosing and being you. And so this year’s biggest change, and biggest win for me, truly is respecting myself and protecting my boundaries.


Change is coming whether we want it or not
So have faith in what is meant to be
Your peace & happiness is worth a shot


– Akiti –