lessons of 2019

It’s strange how time just flew by! It feels like yesterday when the clock was striking midnight last year on New Year’s Eve. I remember picking up my notebook as I slowly squeezed my frozen feet under the blanket, and started to make a list of ‘Things To Do in 2019’, before the phone burst with New Year texts & calls from friends and family.

To be honest, I didn’t do half the things that I had listed that night. Now that 2020 has also tiptoed in and I’ve already scribbled another set of ‘Things To Do in 2020’, I feel grateful while looking back at the 365 amazing days that I’ve lived in 2019. Well, it surely wasn’t the best year of my life, but it surely was one of those which taught me some incredible lessons which I’m gonna carry with myself, forever.

Life is an excellent teacher, and we often learn things when we least expect them to happen. Here are those 19 lessons that 2019 taught me, and I’m sure that you’d also get to connect to some of them!

1. Things don’t happen as you plan. Things happen the way they are meant to happen!

I’ve realized this before as well, but this year, I came in terms with this even more strongly. I planned quite a few things, had everything chalked out in my mind and could even visualize how they’d take shape – but they didn’t turn out the way I thought they would! I eventually made peace with the fact that not everything is in my control and that’s absolutely fine.

2. People come and go, but life goes on!

Friendships and relationships don’t always last – and sometimes the people who were once the most important people in your life become complete strangers. It’s important to let yourself feel the heartbreak when this happens, but it’s just as important to know that your life will go on without them. Sometimes, holding onto someone can do more harm than good, so it’s better to let loose when it’s necessary!

3. Being patient is the key to happiness!

I’ve been an extremely impatient person and always wanted things to happen as quickly as possible. I always felt that being patient sucks, but over time, I realized that it really is the key to happiness. Sometimes things don’t come together for you all at once. But eventually, they will fall in place when the right time comes.

4. Every person you meet has something to add to your story!

From a stranger living in a different continent who came into my life as a blessing to all those compassionate souls whom I met during a volunteer trip – I learned that every single person we meet and connect to, leaves a mark on our mind and heart. Looking back, I know it for sure that the stories of my 2019 journey would have been incomplete without these beautiful characters whom I met at the crossroads of life.

5. Comparing yourself with others will only cause you pain.

I often made the mistake of judging myself seeing someone who’s doing better than me, and in this process, I missed out on all good things that were actually happening to me! If you continue to compare yourself and your life to everyone else then you’ll never be happy or able to appreciate your own accomplishments. Everyone has their own path, so just keep going on yours, because you’ll be amazed at what’s in store for you.

6. Be a social butterfly, but don’t let social media affect your life.

For those who know me well, knows that I’m a person who’s always ready to socialize – maybe over a cup of coffee or brunch, or at parties & random trips! Not just that, but I also love to share my moments on Instagram as well. But over time, I’ve made it a point not to let social media affect my choices and my mental peace. It’s important that we know where to draw the line and the sooner we do that, the better it’ll be for us!

7. Failure doesn’t exist.

Yeah, as I mentioned previously, there have been a lot of things that didn’t go the way I wanted them to be, but with time I realized that there is no failure, only lessons. Each time you ‘fail’, you have an opportunity to learn something new from it! And there’s always hope of something better happening ahead – we just need to wait for it. I know of a friend who invested in a start-up that didn’t work out well, but the way he dealt with it and sought a new path in life helped me to learn a lot from his courage.

8. “No” is a complete sentence in itself. It does not require justification or explanation.

This one was so hard for me but so important as well! I’m a person who mostly says ‘yes’ and I tend to always feel like I have to explain why I’m saying ‘no’ to something or justify it. But honestly, you don’t owe anyone anything. And the moment I said ‘no’ to something that I didn’t want to be a part of, I felt an ease with myself. If you don’t feel like doing something, all you have to do is say ‘no’ – and it isn’t as difficult as it might seem!

9. The way you are feeling right now is not permanent.

Change is the only constant – and the same goes for feelings & emotions! 2019 has been emotionally challenging for me and while I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), my psychiatrist helped me to focus on the brighter side of life, encouraging me to do things that I love & be with people who add positivity in my life. Through rigorous Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I realized that if we don’t hold onto the bad feelings, they aren’t meant to last for long.

10. If your dreams don’t scare you a little bit, they aren’t big enough!

I remember when I wrote ‘Visit 5 new countries in 2019’, I was skeptical whether I’d be able to make it or not. Sometimes, traveling abroad is not just about sorting your finances (that’s important too) – but there’s a lot more! You need to know where you wanna go and why you wanna go there, how safe are those places to travel and what exactly are you looking for, from that particular journey. For some time, I pacified myself thinking that even if I make it to 3 new countries, it wouldn’t be a bad deal. But here I am, ticking off all 5 destinations and gathering experiences that I’m gonna cherish for life! Undoubtedly, it’s one of the bigger lessons I’ve learned this year – to shoot for the stars!

11. Most of the time, we make up our minds even before we’ve tried something!

“I think I can’t do that” – this has been a very common feeling for me, but thanks to my partner for pushing me a step ahead and encouraging me to try things that I often think aren’t meant for me. And honestly, I quite enjoyed once I convinced myself to try them out, whether it’s about quitting my 9 – 5 job or going for scuba diving! To be honest, most of the time, you decide what you’re capable of, even before you try something! You decide if you would like someone before you even meet them; you decide if you’d like a food before you taste it, etc.

It has been a major lesson for me – to choose & decide wisely. 

12. Focus on what you’re good at and nurture it for better!

Over the years, I’ve figured out that I’m in love with words and to weave new tales fascinates me the most. Whether it’s about narrating the stories from my journeys or describing something to make it real for others – I can spend hours scribbling my thoughts on a paper (or typing, when I’m with my laptop)! This year, I essentially focused on writing as much as I could, and looking back, it gives me immense joy to read all that I’ve written over the last few months. We are all good at something or the other – you might be an excellent cook or a fantastic painter – and it’s important that you put your heart & soul into it, only to make your craft better.

13. Press the ‘Send’ button. If you don’t say it now, you can’t say it ever!

We often tend to hide our feelings thinking about how the other person will react – and this, eventually, keeps affecting our mental peace for the longest time possible. I had a few mails in my Drafts folder, which kept bothering me, I would open & read them and shut down the laptop for no good reason, until one day in mid-June when I finally decided to send them to the respective people. I did get a friend back in life. I said ‘Sorry’ to a couple of people but didn’t hear back from them. What followed thereafter was nothing but a sense of calmness. 

14. Stop postponing things and take that much-awaited trip with your BFF!

We have all grown up to be extremely busy in our own lives – dealing with the corporate struggles and marital status, trying to maintain a balance between our personal & professional lives. But in between, what we often tend to miss out is a breather that we never realize we need the most. For years, I and my childhood bestie have been planning to go on a holiday, and finally, this year, randomly we booked tickets for Thailand and lived some crazy moments together. In those few days, I realized that we’ll keep postponing things if we plan too much – but sometimes, it’s important to listen to the heart and take the plunge to never regret again!

15. Indulge in an act of philanthropy, ‘coz it’s gonna change the way you look at life!

In today’s date, when we are all extremely self-centric, focusing on our own growth – it’s important to take a pause and spend a few days with those who aren’t as privileged as us. In 2019, one of the best things I learned while volunteering at a childcare center in Kenya is that you don’t need to have a bond to share unconditional love. Being a stranger to a bunch of infants and toddlers, I was surrounded by smiling faces who were seeking my attention and loved me as my own. My days were filled with the warmth of their touch, as I fed them and cuddled them while playing around. In a way, it helped me explore my motherhood which I was completely unaware of, and now, I keep longing to get back and see my children there, in a faraway land.

Would you also like to step out of your comfort zone & stretch your helping hand, to volunteer for the well-being of others?

16. Always make time for yourself! You are your first priority.

We often keep ourselves too busy with everything else, that we forget to care for ourselves. In 2019, I made it a point to take at least 15 minutes out each day, to sit and meditate or just be blank, while watering my plants. Well, it did wonders!

It’s very important to take time out for oneself and listen to good music, eat good food, read a good book, and watch a good movie. It’s only when we care for ourselves, can we care for others too.

17. Write postcards, ‘coz it’s more real than virtually texting someone!

I’ve always believed in handwritten letters more than WhatsApp messages, and in 2019, I wrote more postcards than ever! It was a way for me to tell people how I felt about them, what I experienced while traveling, how life has been treating me and so much more. With time, I even started getting handwritten replies from friends and now, I have got a bag full of colorful postcards from different parts of the world, which I can read again & again. There’s a bliss in those words which doesn’t appear on the screen!

18. Always say ‘Yes’ to desserts!

Coming from a sweet tooth like me, you gotta believe in this! Life is too short to pass up that slice of chocolate cake you really wanna binge on! So, stop hesitating about the calories and take a huge bite of that amazing cake, devour it all in its glory – and savor the exquisite taste on your tongue. And remind yourself that it’s perfectly okay to treat yourself with the best things out there.

19. Be confident about yourself 🙂

To put it in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Whatever I’ve been able to do in 2019, is because I was confident about my decisions and even though I failed at times, I knew that I can do better the next time. Your opinion of yourself is the most important thing, so make sure to guard it. Let your confidence shine, it’s about time. 

To say the least, 2019 has been an amazing learning journey for me, with sprinkles of adventure and I’m looking forward to a more thoughtful 2020. I’m sure that we’ve all had our own shares of ups and downs, but the fact that we stand strong now is good enough a reason to cherish & celebrate.

I wish you all a happy a prosperous 2020! May we all shine brighter in this new decade and share more love than ever.


  • Riyanka Roy

    A Thoughtful Traveler!

    She is a traveler who is keen on exploring different parts of the world. An Indian who did her Masters in International Relations, Riyanka has taught in the rural tribal schools in Rajasthan, India, for a considerable period. Riyanka mostly focuses on volunteering trips and responsible tourism. She's a freelance blogger who's equally passionate about photography. Her quest is to turn all her journeys into beautiful stories. Being a die-hard ‘mountain-aholic‘, her favorite destinations are all around the Himalayas! She can spend days gazing at the snow-capped mountains, binge on Maggi and lemon-honey-ginger tea and reading Ruskin Bond books.