What the # 10YearChallenge means to me

By Hand On The Hip - 1/24/2019

Hola, amigos!

How has the new year been treating you so far? I recently posted an image on my personal Instagram account (Yes, I have a personal account. I have four functional accounts in total for a variety of purposes. Not proud of it! :D) comparing pictures of today with something that was taken in college just to jump on the #10YearChallenge bandwagon. While some think it's super lame, there have been rumors that this could just be Zuckerberg's sneaky tactic to mine data for his Facial Recognition algorithm. I took a good look at the picture that I had posted and saw no changes whatsoever in the way I looked. That's when I realized that instead of looking for changes in physical attributes or mere pictures, I should just investigate my life instead and notice how I have changed or if my life has improved or deteriorated. I urge you all to do the same to see where you stand.

Ten years ago, it was my first time away from home and I had just joined college. It was a whole new level of crazy experiences, a brand new life and well.. extreme discomfort! I came from a middle class family and a small town, while most of my peers were wealthy brats from big cities. Somewhere in between all the rich kids and clubbing nights, I lost myself. I was afraid of being judged and wanted to fit in. I made tons of mistakes, wronged a lot of people, had several heartbreaks and did feel like crap a lot of times. Today if I were to go back in time, I would not change a single thing. You wanna know why? Because all of those mishaps, those blunders have contributed to who I am today. And I guess I am pretty okay! I learnt a great deal about how every individual is different, how every situation needs to be tackled differently and how all that college drama makes you a stronger person. Having said that, I wouldn't compromise today. I wouldn't really go that extra mile to be accepted. I am content with who I am and I have started to choose the people I actually wanna spend my precious time with. I have let go of a lot of toxic people and I don't regret it at all.

Now let's move on to a lighter topic - fashion and beauty! In 2009, I tried to wear clothes that everyone else seemed to wear. I didn't really experiment as much as I do today and looked like just another Manipalite with a regular tee, skinny jeans, a pair of flip-flops, a cloth bag and always played safe. Today I add a touch of my personal style to everything I wear. I also used to think back then that the more skin you show, the prettier you look. That's so not the case anymore because now, all I think of, is comfort. Another important learning for me with respect to clothes is to stop hoarding! I try not to have five pairs of leggings of the same color because one should be enough to serve the purpose. I have started giving away those clothes that haven't seen the light of the day in at least a year and have been restyling and reusing a lot of my clothes. However, with beauty and make-up, my journey has been slightly different. My lipstick collection has easily increased by at least 80%! I make an effort to take care of my skin which wasn't really necessary back in 2009. (Well, younger skin and all, you know! :p) I had no acne or any kinds of skin problems back then which I seem to have developed now. All in all, there's a significant increase in the amount of time and money spent on beauty and make-up as compared to ten years ago, but in the clothing department there's a lot of analyzing that goes in before every piece of clothing is purchased (Definitely a blogpost for next time!) and that has certainly helped me in a bazillion ways.

Coming to my career and hobbies, there has definitely been a significant change in both areas. Ten years ago, I was a Computer Science Engineering student and I always felt that I ended up in the wrong classroom back in college. Algorithms and flowcharts were all flying above my head. While I spent most of my time in classrooms sketching or designing clothes in the last pages of my books, the wiz-kid in me who always fixes her mum's gadgets did want to give Computer Science a chance. I started working as a Data Analyst after graduation and found my way to Data Visualization. Today, everything I do at work is a blend of technology and art - it couldn't have been more perfect! My nerdy batchmates from college who thought I was a good-for-nothing Barbie doll couldn't have been more wrong. From a six-point-someone who flunked every semester to becoming a Tableau Featured Author (Not to brag, but it's kind of a big deal in the Data Viz world :p), I have really come a long way. I also know for a fact that so many of my friends from college who weren't meant to be techies gradually used the tech they studied to reach where they did today. To all those college kids who think that they're doing a course they're not meant to, don't give up just yet. Give that course your fullest to see if it's your calling. Moving on to my hobbies, I have always been really active in the extracurricular department in school, however that somehow slipped away in college. Over the years, I managed to resurrect them all and just because I could not pursue art or fashion professionally doesn't mean it can't be a part of my life. Ten years ago, everything except going to bars and making 'drunk' friends seemed useless to me. But now, all my hobbies mean way more to me than those senseless nights at some club. I try to squeeze in everything I want to do and that makes me feel complete. Kids, it's all about prioritizing.

A lot of you have asked me how I ended up starting a blog of my own. Here's a story that would amuse you! Exactly ten years ago, I literally had an empty resume. Despite being a really active student in school, having participated in a variety of things ranging from art to sports, I was struggling hard to cope up with my studies, my social life and extracurriculars in college. I had to let go of one of the three, but that did no good to my profile because I had nothing to show and well, my grades weren't all that pretty either. However, "online internships" were just introduced back then and I thought of giving it a shot. I was no tech genius like my peers, so I ended up applying for a few writing/blogging internships and managed to get selected for several of them. Sportskeeda was the first one that saw potential in me, where I was chosen to write reviews on football matches and that was such a nightmare for me considering I knew nothing about the game. It was a course in itself where I had to spend several nights glued to sports channels and take notes so that I could come up with a decent review. There came a point in my life where I had no patience for that anymore and desperately needed something that was in my area of interest. And in no time, I got chosen for an online fashion blog called FVeda as a writer and soon, found myself in the position of an editor. I really enjoyed writing about fashion but it still felt like a chore since I had to adhere to the blog owner's rules. But today, ten years later, I genuinely enjoy writing, sharing personal stories, tips and tricks about fashion. But more than anything else, I have realized that I love writing for myself!

Let's talk about health and fitness goals. When I was in my late teens, I wasn't exactly the fittest or the healthiest. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and that made me gain a lot of weight. I tried my hand at swimming, aerobics, long walks etc., but nothing really stuck with me. I would skip meals or eat French Fries for lunch and never bothered to take care of myself. I would end up not sleeping all night and go to bed at 5 am. I had a really chaotic, erratic lifestyle which didn't affect until later in my life when I had to put my energy into my 9-5 routine. Gradually, I realized the value of breakfast, how our bodies need regular meals to function and how getting adequate rest is of utmost importance. I also understood the difference between losing weight the healthy way and just losing weight. So, from ten years ago to now, I have successfully managed to change my food habits from junk or nothing to a healthy, nutritious diet along with daily exercise in the form of Zumba fitness. I am also making a conscious effort to increase my water intake and my alcohol consumption has reduced by at least 90%! Aging can definitely take a toll on one's body and I can see how pulling all-nighters like before seems like an impossible task now. So, dear tweens, do take good care of yourselves!

Finally, the point that I want to highlight is how I have grown personally. When I was in college, I could merely boil a pot of water on my own. I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in organizing my room or helping out my parents in the kitchen (Yeah, my dad cooks too! :D) and I was an absolute waste-of-space back in the day. I was lazy, rebellious and not worried about how much effort my family had put in for me. But today, I don't think there's anything bigger or more important to me in my life than them. My mom was always worried about me and wanted me to be as independent as possible. Fast forward ten years and I cook on a daily basis now and damn, I can bake my own bread too! I am capable of managing a house on my own, fix beds, grow plants and what not! I've developed so many useful life skills over the past decade that no school or college could teach me. And that's something that definitely helped me fulfil my "10 Year Challenge" of transforming from a reckless teenager to a more useful human being!

In the last ten years, I have gone through a lot of ups and downs. That has helped me change my priorities from materialistic things to things that actually matter. I have constantly been working on myself - to become a better person, to be happy and healthy. Of course, there are some things that have stayed put in the last ten years, like my family, some of my close friends who were by my side even at my worst, the fact that I lose/break my phone every two years, my undying love for teenage drama series and so on. But my key takeaway is that I have finally started being myself. I am okay with who I am and you should be too. If there's anything that I have learnt in the past ten years it's to love yourself and do things you love or be with the people you love. If things are bad at the moment and you feel worthless, trust me, it's just a phase and it's all gonna get better. With that, I am going to end this post on a positive note and I'd love to hear all about your life changes from ten years ago to now.

Hand On The Hip

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