2017: My Happily Ever After

Our First Year As A Married Couple, Living in Southern California

What happens when you get everything you ever wanted? When all your dreams and desires become a beautiful reality. Like a painting coming to life. Contrary to pop-culture, getting everything you ever wanted only opens your life to even more possibilities, which means unlocking more desires and needs.

There’s one thing I’d like to make very clear: There is no happily ever after.

At no point in our lives can we close our eyes, put our guard down and expect everything to slide like butter on hot toast. Nope, not gonna happen.

But here’s the good news. There’s ‘happy now’, and now is all that matters.

2017 has honestly been the best year of my life. I got married to the most wonderful person in this entire world. My family grew and so did my heart. I feel supremely blessed. (On most days I do, I promise!). We moved to a new country and unlearned many new things; developed the capacity to appreciate newer perspectives, and the tenacity to keep going. Along this journey there were many things that we learned, and today I’d like to share some of them.

There’s Always Something To Challenge

To live is to challenge. Challenging your knowledge, challenging your beliefs and most importantly, challenging your limits. What are limits? I like to think of them as self-imposed barriers in our minds. “I don’t think I can drive on the Freeway”, is what I keep telling myself right now, but millions of people in California do, including 16-year olds and 90-year olds. Why can’t I, an almost 28 year old, do this? I see no reason, except what my heart tells me. You’re not ready yet. Which brings me to my next point…

Prepare For Your Flight

By flight I mean journey. It’s really tough to start something from scratch. Like driving a car when you’re used to “ubering” it most of your adult life, meeting new people, making new friends, especially when you have such amazing friends back home and you keep comparing every person you meet, to them. What helps is a little bit of preparation. A little bit of groundwork, research and feedback from experienced peers goes a long way in ensuring a smooth start. In the last one year we purchased two cars, one for my husband, Varun and one for me. I don’t think we would’ve been able to negotiate the way we did the second time, if we hadn’t gotten that help and preparation the first time.

Build Your Support System. Start From Yourself

Most people who move into a new country need some sort of support system. This is because back home we’re used to having help. Help at home, help from the gardener, help from the driver and if nothing, moral support from friends and family. Help is a part of our cultural DNA and we have been raised to expect it. But after moving here I realized I can’t take help for granted. From cleaning my own dishes to doing my own laundry, and now, after 10 months, driving my own car, these were some of the things I never worried about back home. It’s important to build your own support system, a list of people who you can call incase of an emergency, or when you’re having a mental breakdown and are in desperate need for coffee and a friend. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll have people in your life who want to help without expecting very little in return. Make sure to always express your gratitude to them in your own way. However, do not take them from granted. In the end, your aim should be to become capable enough to support your support system.

Expect Less, Give More

People say, a little bit of a compromise goes a long way in building a lasting relationship. Based on my experiences, I feel that another key to a happy relationship is to expect more from yourself and less from your partner. After all, your partner is also a human being, and they also need someone they can lean upon from time to time. I spent a lot of time asking myself this question — how can I support our relationship better? This helped me build belief in my own self, and that struggle also gave me the empathy to understand my husbands’ struggles and support him.

Love Is In The Details

Love is in the small gestures. Sometimes it’s the water bottle besides your bedside or long soul melting hug when you see each other after work, or when he’s the first person you call when you get a call from the recruiter you were waiting for, or the dinner after your first salary, or someone to wipe unexplainable homesick tears and make you believe in humanity and hope. Someone who doesn’t turn you against people who’re giving you trouble, but encourages you to become strong enough to take on the world. Someone who shares your beliefs and respects your decisions. Who laughs at your mess, while helping you clean it up. Love is waking up in the morning to his laughter. It is sharing your deepest insecurities and celebrating your big and small victories. Love is non-judgemental and unassuming. The only thing that can purify and deepen love is when we strive to become better ourselves and dance with our own weaknesses, transforming them into our strengths.

Think Before You Click, “Buy Now”

Especially if that crowd is in front of Bloomingdales on Black Friday. In one year I have broken all past records of shopping, online and offline. I’ve bought everything I needed and wanted. And it felt great for a day, but no matter how much Carrie Bradshaw insists - shoes, bags and couture cannot buy you happiness. The one place where happiness exists is not in the beauty section at Macys, but deep within our own hearts, and truly, in the struggle for self-improvement.

Laziness Defiles Creativity, Energy & Overall Sense of Joy

Being a master procrastinator, I say this out of experience. It’s been a real struggle sometimes to push myself out of bed and attack that to-do-list. Yep, I’ve quite enjoyed creating these lists and crossing off tasks this year, whether at work or just at home. If I don’t know what I’m doing the next day, I pretty much end up doing nothing. And while this behavior is socially glorified and appropriated for weekends, a full day of Netflix binging numbs my mind, especially when I know that there are ideas tugged in little corners of my brain, waiting to be born.

Kindness Goes A Long Way

Giving your cleaners a Christmas bonus, greeting your co-workers cheerfully, letting the car at the curb pass by first, opening the door for someone, tipping your uber driver after he gives you a wildly inspiring pep talk, controlling your temper at the crucial moment and offering solutions instead of complaints. These significant yet small acts of kindness are helping the world sleep better, one day at a time. Some people might be unable to put a face to our name, but they’ll never forget how we made them feel. I still remember our help back in India. We used to call him GP. He was the kindest soul I have ever met. He always treated our family with utmost respect and completed his tasks with a great sense of responsibility and sincerity. He passed away a couple of years back, but I will never forget him. May his gentle heart rest in peace, always.

In The End, Things Might Not Go As Planned

For new years, our plan was to drive further south towards San Diego, and explore the city first hand — food, partying, nature walks, beach and the likes. But nothing went as per plan. One of us ended up with fever and the other one sulking. The other one being me. But as I sit here, trying to describe my experiences from this extra ordinary year, I feel it’s almost criminal to sulk because there is just so much to be thankful for. Me and Varun spent the last few days buying a car for me, practicing driving it, cooking some delicious food, making grand plans for 2018, and finally, watching a whole bunch of Netflix. Now that I think about it, there isn’t a more perfect way to begin a new year. If something doesn’t go as planned, that means there’s a better plan brewing somewhere. Which brings me to my final learning…

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Us and Orange County, we’ve had a great first year. As far as relationship phases go, we were in our honeymoon phase. We got to know each other and surprised each other every step of the way. But now, things are getting real. We can’t back away from the bad parts, because we’ve relished the good parts throughout. We have to thrive where we are, for we’re here for a reason. This is our reality and we’re the ones responsible for the outcome.

Ready with both arms open. Welcome 2018!