30 at 30 – Lesson 3: Life Can DRASTICALLY Change In Seconds

30 at 30 – Lesson 3: Life Can DRASTICALLY Change In Seconds

In the past year of the pandemic, more people than ever have come face to face with how unexpected life can be. No one expected the lockdowns. No one expected the restrictions. No one expected their livelihoods to be threatened or dissolved completely because of the harsh realities of the actions that needed to be taken to protect as many people as possible. Now more than ever did it solidify for me that one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that life can change in a matter of seconds. It takes one moment, one minute millisecond, for your entire world to change.

This reality is quite harsh, but now more apparent to many than pre-pandemic. The magnitude of this reality is only clear if you’ve undergone that complete shift – that complete overhaul of what you expected from your life based on its current trajectory and how that future will never be, or rather can never be, after that one moment. The latter being because of life circumstances preventing that possibility or because your perspective of the world so gravely changes from that one moment that you could never return to seeing the world with the same lens as you did before. 

For those infected by Covid-19, it could be the moment you coughed and suddenly couldn’t breathe – landing you in the hospital in a near-death state. For those who had small businesses, it could be the moment you received the federal update that all non-essential facilities would no longer be open, realizing that you wouldn’t make rent that month. Pre-pandemic, it may have been the day you encountered a life-threatening accident or incident, or when you found out that the person you trusted – parent or significant other – was defrauding you for longer and more deeply than you’d like to admit. In these moments, one of two things definitely crossed your mind – will I survive until tomorrow and what is my life going to be like if I do survive. 

One day before the US Lockdown for the 2020 Pandemic, celebrating the last event of my best friend, Abiha’s, wedding.
Day 1 of the work-from-home (WFH) order for all non-essential workers in March 2020.

There is nothing more humbling than these life-altering moments because they force you to think about who you actually are and what you actually want from life. They force you to feel and let those feelings guide you. It is in these moments that the facade of what we are expected to do, expected to feel, expected to mark as our life trajectory just completely fades away. When that happens, you have only yourself to rely upon to find the answers to those questions. You are left to reconcile with what is within you – within the core of your being – that remains, and what it is directing you towards. You can envision this feeling as whatever you want – your conscience, a voice, a religious entity – whatever aligns to your perspective of the world, but at the end of the day it is the only thing that isn’t guiding you based on what society or the external entities expect of you.

The moment you begin to wonder “what will people think” or “what am I supposed to do”, you are placing external pressures on your internal guidance. The beauty of life-altering moments is that the lens of those expectations and pressures is removed. That lens is removed and you can finally see that life truly is what you make it or make of it. You, as the sole individual you were brought into this world as, have the ability to decide the next choice and the perspective you want to take. If life has changed once, it can change again, and again for an infinite number of times – that choice is not in your hands. The choice that is in your hands is what you do with your life so that you are fulfilled, so that even if life flips again, you know your direction or your path, and you know that you can always start again because you know your life’s value at it’s core.

After that life-altering moment, if you are alive and have the ability to think from your mind and feel from your heart, then you have the ability to define and rebuild your life, irrespective of where you’ve landed. This is not to say it is easy, or that the life-alteration does not come with the burden and baggage of trauma and healing. It does, and it’s not lightweight either. The fact of the matter is that it can take a tremendous toll on you and your mental health, and it will result in impacts to most, if not all, aspects of your life (hence the term life-altering…). 

October 2016: Celebrating my first and last Karva Chauth when I was married. This was taken just a month before my now ex-husband and his family abused me and chased me out of our home.
December 2016: I was homeless, broke, and stuck in India healing from the trauma I endured in my one year of marriage.

What one must come to terms with is that no one or no entity outside of yourself will ever know the magnitude of what you experienced. You and you alone experienced that moment in the manner that you did because of what you had experienced in and perceived of this world up until that moment. No friend, no therapist, no family, or no significant other will or can ever know exactly what you experienced. And anyone who does not experience that moment the way that you did, has no authority over how you respond to it, how you move on from it, or how you make decisions after it. If that is not the clarity you need that you and you alone can decide your life outside of externally driven circumstances, then what will be? At what point do you acknowledge that this life is yours and you are allowed to choose how you live it? At what point do you accept that you are allowed to build your life the way you want to, and you are allowed to remove anyone that does not accept that? That point is whenever you choose it, but it is most apparent in these moments where it is blatantly a life of your own. 

Your friend, your therapist, your family, or your significant other will not experience your illness. They will not be the ones who are without money if your business fails. They will not be the ones who are paralyzed after an accident (unless impacted peripherally by it). They will not be the ones who are single or theoretically-orphaned by the broken trust or abuse. They could be additionally impacted if you are the breadwinner or if they are saddened by your pain, but they will never and can never be the ones whose life-altered in the way yours did because that moment happened to you. When the hospitals are in lockdown, only you are admitted for treatment. When rent is due, only your name will be on the eviction or collections notices as the sole individual responsible for the business loss and inability to pay. If you died from any of these scenarios, whether by external factors or by suicide for the pressure and toll it took on you, only you would be missing from this world and only your name would on that obituary. So when only you are responsible and even society isolates you in these scenarios, why would you live your life based on what all of these periphery individuals think of your life? 

March 2021: Free, fulfilled, and thriving at 30, almost 5 years from my life-altering moment.

Learning this lesson can feel like a curse in the moment, but it is a gift once you survive it. The moment feels like your whole existence is irrelevant and makes you question “why me” and “for what purpose”, but it is only in surviving through the moment and taking one step at a time to rebuild based on what is true to you and your core being that you realize how beautiful life can be. You realize how free and peaceful life is when you remove all the expectations of other individuals and society, and truly live life the way you want to. The most beautiful part is that people and a society that accepts you and the life you choose will find you. The beauty of that is the clarity that you are born into this world with the life and people you are granted, but you have a choice to live within those means and with that society, or you can define your life on your own. Making the choice instead of accepting it is as it is made for you is true bliss.

So whether you have faced such life-altering moments or you are faced with the expectations of the people and society that surrounds you, I want you to remember that you are solely responsible for your life. You can make the choice to live it on your terms. You just have to be prepared and well-founded in the core of who you are to have the strength to undertake the losses that will come with. You will lose people. You will lose community. But you will gain yourself and the beauty that is life.


Life is what you make it
That is what they say
You don’t realize it’s truth
Until it’s forced upon you one day

Your life is yours
No one lives it like you do
So choose your way now
Or live it like they want you to

– 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 –