What the past 12 months have taught me about work, life and work life.

The security guard basks in the December sun. Picture taken at the garden of the Studio I’m part of.

I have to admit that I’ve been spoilt rotten. Yes, in my short stint within the Design industry, I really have been spoilt rotten.

It’s this strange concoction of satisfaction, gratitude, accomplishment, pride and feeling lucky. It’s hard to put together in words how I’m feeling on completing one year at an awesome job with a wonderful team.

As I playfully step into year 2 of my existence within my first job as a Designer, I want to take some time and reflect on one of my most productive, fulfilling and empowering years of my life. Through the tumultuous year of work, life and work-life there’s been some incredible learnings, and things I never thought I’d be writing about. But here they are.

Highlights on Turning 1 (In no particular order or priority)

Accepting, Respecting and Celebrating
One of the first things I learnt was acceptance- not of just people, but of environments, the city, the ambiguities and the challenges of everyday life. Accepting these made me feel stronger and at a much better place. And I continue to do so, as we grow bigger within the team, travel to new places, shift bases and try out different things. Respecting differences was the next. It’s quite a eureka moment when you realise how beautifully, respect can change things and make you feel so humbled. The lens through which you see things; changes and so do perspectives. The 12 member team is far more talented than any I’ve ever been around and what each of them bring to the table is unique. I’ve enjoyed the diversity and have also learnt that respect is not taught, but earned. Finally, I’ve realised that when efforts are celebrated, it feels good, when outcomes are celebrated it feels even better and when growth is celebrated it feels the best. Celebrations are critical to grow and grow holistically.

Democracy as a base
When I was graduating out of Design school, I knew that my dreamy eyes and big goals would not be supported by shiny cubicle filled workplaces and the rat race called life. I would have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised how that changed in a year (or less than). Being able to use design and design thinking as a democratic tool has turned the course of my thought process. More than that, practising design with a democratic base has been even more empowering. From projects that I worked on, to small nitty gritty of things within the everyday work life have instilled in me feeling confident and part of a team/space that supports democracy. Never imagined it would be this way.

Empathy as a thumb rule
With a team/boss that puts empathy before self, there isn’t much more to say. The usage of the word is easy and done to death, but the practise (and outcome) of it is mind-blowing. Yes, literally, mind blowing. Nothing inspires me more than the practise of seamless empathy. Nothing. It makes me want to a better person, everyday.

This year, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling far too homesick and have my EQ much higher than usual. While it could be attributed to hormones and age, a lot of it has to do with the space and people I’m around. I feel comforted when I make that call back home and talk to my folks. While work is important, family and family life is equally important. And when work is going well, you do tend to think of other things in a more positive and optimistic manner. That’s been a huge learning this year.

Mentorship, Hunger and Hard work
I’ve come to realise that mentorship, hunger and hard work lie at the three vertices of an equilateral triangle. And the magic lies in the centre. I have some incredible mentors who have guided me and opened a whole new world of experiences and responsibilities, making me want to work a tonne harder and get hungry for more.

Growing Up, Maturity and Experiences
In this one year, I’ve grown up, matured a bit and experienced a wide range of things-emotions, people, places, situations and plain awesomeness at times. I’ve enjoyed all of these things, and I’ve learnt that it is critical to be comfortable in doing so. Dealing with challenges of everyday life- from having to deal with the loss of friendship, stepping out of unfair and ugly situations, to making new friends and new support systems, all this is part of growing up, being mature and building strength from within.

On Freedom, Liberty and Being Grounded
I’ve been blessed to have been given a beautiful mix of freedom to do what I want to do and how I want to do it (in context of my life), liberty of doing things at work at my pace; it’s made me feel more grounded and confident. While I know that these are things that will stay, I want to be cautious to not take them for granted.

There’s always something to be excited about, grateful for and introspect on
I have learnt that it’s extremely important to not let go of that excitement, every small insignificant thing can bring in so much happiness. On the same side, there’s so much to be grateful for (on the most pathetic day- this is what cheers me up). Finally, I’ve figured that introspection is a beautiful tool to talk to oneself- and I’ve tried to use that to my advantage this past year and it has done wonders.

My quest this coming year will be to always stay enthusiastic, excited about things and situations around, stay grateful and continue introspecting. While it’s going to be tough for any upcoming year(s) to be as exciting and awesome as this, I’m looking forward to a fun and challenging one ahead.

A huge shout for everyone who has been part of my incredible year, at work and outside of it.