Hey Stranger

This is a journal entry dedicated to you. Yes, you, sitting in front of the screen reading this right now...these are my words to you. 

Hey stranger, it's Seema. I'm not even sure where to start this conversation but I knew I had to reach out. I need to clear my chest. I couldn't sit back watching in the background anymore. I've been thinking of you. A lot. There isn't a day that goes by where you don't cross my mind. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't read your messages or emails- old and new.  I see your constant notifications on my social media accounts. Sometimes I question why we connected or the purpose of our lives intermingling in the manner that they did. I didn't think I'd ghost on you and be gone for so long. That was never part of the plan. I also didn't think that 2016 would be one of the most difficult years of my life. I've never felt more disappointment from those around me or cried more tears before. I've never had my physical health fluctuate so much as a result. I saw you watching my snaps, you know exactly what I went through. The year was filled with negative energies coming at me from all directions and dealt with emotions I've never felt before. It affected my life in so many ways. 2016 allowed me to grow and a multitude of things changed in my life, good and bad. 

I know you have a lot of questions right now and hopefully what I'm about to share with you will answer most of those. If not, the next time we see each other I'll be even more of an open book and answer your questions. For the time being, just hear me out.

2016- what can I say, you did me dirty...but I'm kind of glad you did. Yeah, it was a rough year but wow, I probably did more personal growth in those 365 days than I ever have in my 29 years of existence. So, I guess I should be thanking you. I spent a lot of time away from my phone. I spent a lot of time grabbing my cameras and venturing out on my own. It was definitely a year of reflecting and learning- no, not from textbooks but instead the type of knowledge you gain from experiencing life, people, and situations.  

Pits of 2016
A short highlight reel of the year would include quite a few pits, but just as many peaks. What pits?! Well for starters I was surrounded by toxic people and fake friends...and I mean a lot of them. You know the type of people who will use you up and suck you dry until you no longer have anything left to give. Let me tell you, it's incredibly draining. Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a giving and nurturing person, but then I think "it's who you are Seema and it's probably one of the most important reasons why you're in medicine". As a result, I was slowly losing my self-esteem. Yeah that's right, the last time I dealt with that was years ago, as a teenager. It wasn't related to my physical appearance this time around though. I wasn't happy and felt empty. Numb- year, that's how I'd best describe it. I lose myself. Do you have any idea how hard it is to look in the mirror and not see what others saw in you? All of your hard work, successes, and accomplishments are meaningless when you're not happy. It's not long before you start equating yourself to nothing and lose sight of your potential or purpose in life. I have never felt so unmotivated in my entire life, solely because I was around all the wrong people who were taking me down with them. Misery loves company, huh? Whoever said that was so right. I was stressed beyond measure, not to mention so anxious to the point where my insomnia hit an all time peak. Everything was evidently taking a toll on my physical health. I was getting sick back to back and had to make a few hospital visits as the patient myself.

Big picture? I was hitting an all time low. Rock bottom as they call it. That drive and passion that was once the reason why I jumped out of bed every morning was no longer there. I was mentally exhausted in relation to everything that was going on in my life. It was enough for me to want to take control of my life. Eliminating those toxic people and focus on myself. On my own happiness. Learning to say "no" to others, not because I was selfish but rather because I was sick of putting others first at the cost of my own comfort and happiness.   

If you've been here from the beginning then you remember what I always used to say back in the day "you can crumble or you can conquer". Sometimes you need to crumble in order to find the strength to conquer. Once you hit a low like that, there's only one direction you can go and it's up. 

Peaks of 2016
Enough about the pits. What about the peaks of 2016? Let's not overlook those because there were plenty. One word could describe the year for me- travel. I travelled left, right, and centre- by plane and road. I loved every second of it! Okay, maybe not how my body felt after a few questionable 12 hour drives but still, I was loving it. I must've been a truck driver in my last life because man, oh man, can I push through with long drives and getting to the destination. I'm not going to sit here listing off every place that I visited but again, I saw you watching my snaps so I'm sure you're fully aware. 

Speaking of snaps, I rediscovered my love for social media. Well, just one platform of mine. I used my snapchat account ("missBRAWR") as a visual diary that I chose to share with you. You saw it all- the travel, my ups and downs, not to mention my phenomenal artistic skills (sarcasm intended). There was a reason why I refused to take art in high school. 

2016 also happened to be the year of my golden birthday. Or is it champagne birthday? I turned 29 on September 29th. I would've enjoyed it a lot more had my family been around to celebrate it with me, yet I was sitting over 1100 km away from them. Regardless, it was still amazing! 

I spent an immense amount of time unplugging (which I'm sure you noticed) and alone, whether that was on short solo road trips that I spontaneously took or sitting at the beach. It was beyond refreshing, to say the least. Life is absolutely beautiful. I encourage you to venture out on your own, you'd be surprised how much mental clarity you get in the comfort of your own presence and mother nature. When was the last time you intentionally left your phone at home or put it on airplane mode?

Anyways, back to the peaks. What about physical changed I experienced? Well, I turned to working out regularly again and got in the best shape ever. Working out definitely became my outlet while dealing with life's stressors. I quit sugar on January 1st of 2016. My skin has never looked better. Hands down one of the best decisions I've ever made.

What about any good friends? They do exist- old and new. I met so many people over the last year, although a majority of them were toxic, there were a few that were keepers. To them, along with my bestfriends of years- I simply want to say, THANK YOU for making so many ordinary moments extraordinary, for always giving me the extra push I need, for lifting me up when I stumbled, for believing in me, for accepting me the way I am, and most of all for being you. I appreciate and love you so much. 

And lastly, one of the most important peaks of 2016 was finding the strength to pick myself up again. 

Being MIA
I hope you can respect the time I've taken away from you because trust me when I say this, I really needed that break and I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't absolutely necessary. How was I supposed to talk to you again when I wasn't feeling well at all? How was I supposed to smile in front of your face when only I understood how I was feeling on the inside? I could've put up a front and pretended like everything was sunshine and butterflies but it would've driven me stir crazy being fake like that. I refused to do it, even if that meant staying away from you for prolonged periods of time. I saw you twice last year and it made me so happy but all of that was overshadowed with everything else that I was dealing with...and eventually you became the last thing I'd turn to even though all along you were one of the main reasons behind my happiness. Thank you for your continued love and support. It never goes unnoticed. 

Big Picture
Looking back, what do I have to say about everything? I want to emphasize the importance of surrounding yourself with people who genuinely care about you and your existence. Don't look down on yourself because of what happened. Keep your chin up. Everyone makes mistakes. It's not your mistakes that define you, it's how you move on and grow from them. You won't repeat them again and you'll be able to recognize similar situations much easier because you've experienced it firsthand. Don't ever let a person or situation make you feel any less of yourself. Continue to value yourself and hold your head up high with confidence. You're a hot commodity! You've been through a lot but that's what makes you, you. Come to terms with the idea that everything happens for a reason. You may not understand why just yet, but it's all part of a greater plan. 

Let whoever think whatever. Stay low-key and leave people clueless. Let them assume what they want because other people's opinions of you don't matter. Just because it's not being posted about on social media doesn't mean it's not happened. Quietly progress. Make moves. Accomplish all of your goals. Fall in love with yourself. Stunt so hard on everyone that has ever ridiculed you or your dreams. In moments of self-doubt tell yourself you got this because even if you don't, believing in yourself will get you there. 

You have to have enough courage to save yourself, fight for yourself, and find yourself. You have an entire world and endless opportunities in front of you. Remember your career is what you do, it's not who you are. I encourage you to find your identity outside of your career. Go out there and live your life to the fullest. We all have so many years of education, yet no one ever taught us how to love ourselves and why it's so important. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself, so love yourself first. Next time you're asked about your first love, you better be saying your own name. Think about how beautiful it is, to above all else, have a heart that was proud of itself. 

I want to be there for you like I used to be, I want to make my parents proud, but above all else, I want to be happy. 

So hey stranger, don't be a stranger anymore. I know I won't be. 

Much love, xo

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