Being Nineteen

Following suit with an article I wrote last year about “Being Eighteen” in 2016, I thought it’d be neat to turn this into a yearly thing– a Year in Review if I may say.

In the article I just mentioned, I said this: “I have my personal and professional goals in check, friends & family I can depend on and a fair idea of how I want the next 365 days of being 19 to pan out.” Let’s have a look at how I faired out!

Being 19 in 2017 was great. Just like 2016, it was full of experiences and life lessons I’ll never forget. I traveled around the world, launched a couple of projects, published my first research paper, and most importantly– realigned my focus and goals.

Here’s a quick recap of everything significant that went down in 2017:

#1: Focus

For me, 2016 was all about making a mark. I made it a personal goal to try as many new things as possible and always be out of my comfort zone, accumulating as many experiences as I could.

2017 was different, it was the year where I shifted gears and started converging on my areas of interest based out everything I learned from 2016. I rearranged my priorities and commitment towards a singular focus on learning instead of money-making. Some would say it’s possible to make money out of something you’re learning– but for me personally, I knew I wasn’t ready for that phase yet. That is why 2017 was dedicated to learning my craft instead of attempting to make money out of it.

My goal shifted from trying to earn cash towards identifying problems, working to solve them in the form of services or products, and testing them with real users. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe entrepreneurs should have a balance between solving problems and learning how to build businesses out of them– but personally I’d prefer to solve problems more, for now.

#2: Traveling

I spent my summer in Europe, as a part of a month-long educational programme based in Paris. I think the highlights were visiting the breath-taking cities of Europe, exploring the local food, and interacting with my fellow batchmates from all over the world.

Apart from Europe, I traveled to South India after my semester end exams to relax and unwind after what could’ve been the most stressful four months of college so far. It was a spectacular trip which included a good mix of beaches and religious shrines. My favorite was probably eating Maggi at an altitude of 2,000 meters in Kodaikanal.

Some of my favorite shots from the trip

#3: Equilibrium

This year was all about realizing the importance of stability in all spheres of life. Ranging from academics, traveling, creating products, writing to relaxing.

I understood how essential all of these were in order to avoid burning myself out, both physically and mentally.

I also realized that having an enjoyable social life is just as important as doing well in academics or work. Especially when you’re 19, because if you don’t enjoy while you’re young– you’re probably doing it wrong.

#4: Doing good work

As a pre-final year student at University, it is very easy to start panicking about life after graduation. This year was definitely a confusing one in terms of this– because, for the first half of it I was very perplexed about what I should be aiming for: Masters? MBA? Design gig? Developer job? Startup?

We’re all so worried about following pre-made paths that we often forget how different we are to each other. Life is about embracing that individuality and discovering what you love.

But ultimately, the way I dealt with all this anxiety was believing in just doing good work. I chose a path, focused my time towards learning as much as I can about it and implementing what I learned in the form of side projects.

Whether it was launching a chatbot, redesigning a popular taxi app, improving my design skills, or writing research papers– the goal was to do my best and not waste time worrying about how to get the best outcomes.

And it’s crazy how effective this was– Brandie, the chatbot got featured on websites such as Product Hunt and has over 3,000 users in less than 2 months, the Ola Redesign I did was featured in prominent Indian design communities, I learned so much about user experience design through mentors & resources, and I presented my research paper at an international IEEE conference.

Final Thoughts

2017 was an amazing year in terms of the clarity it gave me. It was a perfect mix of everything I love and full of experiences I’ll always remember. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it and I couldn’t be more excited about the next 365 days.

Ciao to being a teenager, 20's— here I come!