December is coming to an end, and with it, the year of 2019 will soon be over. For me, it’s been quite a year to be honest; expanding Diabesties, meeting some incredible people, creating new friendships, ending a few relationships, learning a lot about the work I do, travelling around the world, but above all, finding out a little bit more about myself. And it’s been beautiful, heartbreaking, but most definitely rewarding.
In this year ending blog, I want to explore a few of the lessons and learnings that have shaped the way I think, view my work and the world. These lessons are credited entirely to some of the most remarkable people I have had the good fortune of meeting, the experiences that I have endured and the art that I have absorbed.
So, let’s turn the final page of 2019...
Early on in the year, unfortunately on my mothers birthday in April, I got diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus. It’s another auto-immune condition (queen of autoimmune right here)! One more chronic condition with no cure. When I was diagnosed, it was a very uncomfortable two weeks - not being able to figure out the incessant thirst, the need to drink cold water, the constant peeing (felt a lot like being transported back to 2009 when I was diagnosed with Type 1).
An MRI and several blood tests later, the diagnosis was confirmed. I still remember my Endo saying, ‘Jazz, you have another type of diabetes!’ - there was this moment when the world stood still and things around me went into a spiral (very dramatic but true) - The worst part of it all - my parents were out of the country - thank god my brother and best friend were with me. They returned the moment they found out and once again, as a family, we entered the hospital to undertake yet another lifelong journey. The treatment for DI is a lot simpler than T1D, but the acceptance was perhaps a little harder. What I had struggled with for years, to get rid of the ‘why me’ feeling Type 1 brought along, returned with a heavier crash. It was in this moment, that I truly understood not to take a single moment for granted. Funny, 1 decade later, 1 more diabetes. My grandmother then told me, "god only gives challenges to those, who he knows can face them" and with that naive understanding, I realised life doesn’t get easier - you just get stronger. With that, I think I bounced back quicker, with more determination, more grit and more gratitude than ever before. My mother, who always likes to search for the silver lining in dark situations said, at least we got to celebrate her birthday together as a family, and somehow that made things better.
Growth is not a ladder - its a jungle gym
I read this in Sherryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ and reflecting upon the year, I feel like I have lived it. This year has been wonderful for Diabesties. I attended and participated in more than ten conferences; networking, ideating, meeting some amazing people and getting involved with exciting projects. The most beautiful things often happen unexpectedly. I had the absolute privilege of meeting some incredible people with T1D, who later became friends, best friends and now team members! When you meet people who share the same passion for what you do, and who believe in the mission and vision of the work you are trying to do - its a feeling of pure ecstasy! They did, they hopped on, and we grew our little Diabesties family to reach more places in India, do more work and build a bigger community of those whose hearts beat red, but bleed blue.
Diabesties started as a YouTube Channel (and thats all I wanted to do with it). Never did I think we would grow into a registered foundation, promoting advocacy, organising awareness drives, facilitating projects, driving activities and working on international projects to better the lives of those with T1D. I say growth is not a ladder, because none of these things happened one after the other. It was organic, spontaneous and simultaneous. And this taught me a few things:
Creativity over Conformity: There is no ‘right’ way to grow. When things happen, they happen - being open to change, and creating your own path is the key to success in my opinion.
Find your Vibe, and create your Tribe: I have been blessed to work with these incredible people who have made Diabesties theirs, and its the most rewarding feeling in the world. These are people who care about the foundation, who dream for it, and who work day and night to make a difference.
And lastly, change begins with one person. Over the year, I have received hundreds of comments, emails, Instagram messages and phone calls about how a video helped a family get through a tough time, or how a diaMEET made a person with T1D feel less alone, or how a post on Instagram offered some new information or advise - and every time I read or hear these, it fills my heart with so much joy. It reminds me of why we do what we do, it pushes me to work harder, it drives me to do more. If the work we do can even help one person, I can sleep well at night.
One thing is crystal clear: we rise, by lifting others. And an act, which may feel small - when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world..
Obsession and discipline
My father, has always told me, to be anything in this world, you must be obsessed - and then you must be disciplined.. I always listened to him with awe, and then this year, I found out what it truly means. The ‘obsession’ bit was easy. For all those of you who know me, you know that I put my all in what I do. With any of the work I’ve done this last year, I feel like I have given 100%, be it with the performances I’ve created, the Diabesties work I have taken, or any of the projects I have helped shape. What I did struggle with, is the discipline; in a slightly different way. My father in all his years of playing, had a schedule. He had a regime, a time table for practice and a dedicated routine. What I have realised, is that if I get obsessed, I lose track of everything else. I work into the night, I dedicate every part of my day to the work and… I burn myself out.
I burn myself out emotionally, mentally, socially and physically. I get so involved, that I zone out everything, including myself. This year has taught me, that obsession without discipline is a downward spiral. And the aim for next year, is to take up projects with equal passion, but to always remember to be dispassionate enough to take a little time out for myself as well..
“If I was a man, I’d be THE MAN!”
Oh come on, you know me enough to know I would absolutely put some Swifty references into the last blog post of the year! Taylor swift wrote the most incredible satirical song about what life would be like if she was a man. To quote,
‘they’d say I hustled, put in the work, they wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve.’ -
This was the year I truly understood a lot about gender roles. I was brought up in a house which was dominated by powerful women; so being vocal and confidant came very naturally to me. But then, this year, when I was out of the cocoon and into the real world, a world of health care professionals almost dominated by men - I understood why being a feminist was so important. I understood a lot about what people may perceive vs what you are trying to present. It also opened my eyes to how sometimes women, are women’s greatest enemies.
But within the back and forth of the usual banter, I met a few rare individuals who became beacons in my life..
They taught, guided, gave some fabulous advise and made me stronger, more confidant and dare I say it a better person. They taught me about leadership, respect, psychology, good work and most importantly, about friendship.
All in all, its been a beautiful year - with several ups and some downs. The up’s showed me what else is out there, and the downs just taught me to always pick myself back up. 2020 is a year to be more fearless, more ambitious, more self-loving and more empathetic.
2019, you were a blessing, and I’m ready for what comes next.
May 2020 bring passion and perseverance. May it bring epic love stories and grand adventures. May our misguided spirits always be bulletproof and our mad-batter minds be drunk with imagination forever. May we build a polaroid of memories that inspire us. May we explore, expand and extend to the several unexplored corners of our minds. May we have the time of our lives with our dearest ones in nights drenched with wine and starlight. May we remember to be grateful for all the lessons life carefully plans for us. May poetry string our problems and may we find the courage to create the change we have always desired..
Ready to bungee jump into the new year.
Bring. It. On.