Happy New Year Cherry-Fam!

How has your first day of a brand-smacking new 2017 been so far? Mine has been pretty ordinary, but you know ordinary can be perfectly special as well. Life is rarely big blasts of emotions; it’s little ordinary events that are made special with the right mindset and company of people you love. Jeez, I almost sound like a happy light bulb.

So, new year, new resolutions. I have very little faith in this pillar of commitment; I have never seen any resolutions through – heck, I forget most of them by Feb 1st. Also, mostly I get too ambitious and pen down all kinds of herculean accomplishments for myself, which somehow guarantees demise by default.

So this year, my resolutions are simple. I am going to stick to 4, and hopefully remember them for a few weeks, if not months.

But before I go on to resolutions, I think it’s important to reflect on the year 2016 has been. And boy, was it one eventful year!

I moved to Europe, which was neither a plan nor something that excited me. But sometimes you have to opt for practical paths, and look at the bigger picture. I still remember the day I arrived to Köln, all bundled up and anxious. It was cold, wet and grey. While it seemed the days never ended back then, soon it was summer and I couldn’t stand more than a pesky layer of clothing. And that’s how life is – it goes on. You can accept things or resist change, it doesn’t really matter. The only affected party is you, and it’d be wise to do what is best for you. Life will go on, even if it has to walk all over you. Sadly, I learnt it after wasting good six months.

Also, how ugly or beautiful something is truly dependent on the beholder’s perception. What was a small city with depressing skyline and inconvenient social customs for me, was a breath of fresh air for someone else, who sees a community where people talk to each other, the pace doesn’t break your neck and luxury for aged men and women to hang out in cafes and enjoy retirement. So adjusting the focus could make all the difference.

But it is equally important to know yourself, and if the place and circumstances resonate with your personality. No adjusting would be enough when it’s the wrong fit. And this is as important to remember as the lesson of flexibility.

Oh, did you know I met Deepika Padukone last year? I am sure you do. I shamelessly shared my excitement over social media and the blog for over a week. It was surreal. And the journey to Spain to attend IIFA taught me SO MUCH! Firstly, things aren’t as difficult as they may seem from a distance. I wasn’t employed full-time, hadn’t written for a print publication in five months, and was hopeless, to say the least. I read somewhere that IIFA is being held in Spain, and a few of my friends were flying in from Karachi and Dubai. I lived in Europe – logistically, I was a much better fit. I have written on freelance basis for almost a decade, so I looked up a few contact details, dropped emails, confirmed features, registered for media accreditation and was on my way to Madrid. Truly. It was as simple as that. All it required was trust in my skills and experience, and reaching out. So until we try, we can never know how far our efforts can really take us.

And then there was travel. I have never travelled as much in year as I did in 2016. From Germany to France, Belgium, Netherland, Spain, Pakistan and Prague – from weekend getaways to week long holidays and glamping by the beach. And there are a few things I learnt. The whole notion of ‘travelling helps you find yourself’ is rubbish as far as I am concerned. Maybe when you are 16, it can help you discover yourself but at 28, I know AirBnB is not my friend and I need at least 4 days in a city to truly appreciate it. Also, planning is crucial, and so is meeting locals. I met someone in Prague and that along made the trip one of the best holidays. Meet local people, eat local food, buy local brands and travel the way locals do. Do local!

Career is an important part of my life, and 2016 screwed it up in more ways than I could have imagined. I underestimated the need for German language skills, despite everyone urging me to learn it pronto. I have never had an issue finding a job that I liked, and I always thought I would venture into entrepreneurship at some point in my life. Come 2016, I was jobless with no prospects, and registering an enterprise in Germany had me in tears (what else can you do when every single form is in German?). But it wasn’t all bad news, after I picked up the pieces of my shattered confidence. It gave me a chance to write for magazines that I wanted, including a title I have dreamt about writing for since I was 16 (I can only share more next month!). Also, I went solo and somewhat established Rajans Consultancy, which was one of the best things I have done in a long time. Currently, it offers PR and Marketing services, and my focus is UAE market. But I have lots of interesting plans and hope to permanently work with people I have been collaborating with on freelance basis. What do I take from this episode? Career and jobs are as volatile as relationships, and sometimes we can’t see where the person ends and work begins. I can’t wait to hop back in that frame, but now I am strong enough to see the person I am, my skills and aspirations, independent of my circumstances. Also, there is never a right time and you will never be prepared enough to start something of your own. So, just do it. Oh, and Cherry Cross grew beyond a one-man army. We had a steady stream of contributors, and I want to say a massive thank you to all those who wrote amazing features for us. You guys are rockstars!

And that pretty much sums up 2016. Now on to 2017. I thought this would be the year when I stop eating crap but it’s so difficult (especially when you have a freezer stocked with Ben & Jerry’s What-a-lotta chocolate). But here’s to wishing, and resolving, that in 2017 I will:

  • Eat Clean. Try to go carb and dairy free, and definitely sugar free. I am cleaning my pantry tonight, and hopefully carbs go in trash and not my tummy.
  • Learn German, even if it kills me.
  • Be disciplined with my work, which includes Cherry Cross as well. Bring on those content calendars!
  • Work on my relationships, and be a more involved daughter, better listening sister, more accepting wife and a more patient friend. I may, or may not, have added ‘more’ against adjectives to feel good about myself – something like ‘I am already patient, I just need to be a little more.’

Well, that’s my year – both the one that has gone by and the one I am happily looking forward to. As I already feel like a preacher, let me impart one more lesson that I learnt in 2016 – look at actions more than spoken words. You will know how a person feels about you through their actions. Words lie, actions usually don’t.

That was a lot about me – how about you? What invaluable lessons are you taking with you from 2016? and what are your resolutions, if any, for 2017?

Stay blessed, and have a fantastic 2017 everyone. Cheers