New Year, Better Me

New year means reflections like never before.

The New Year means reflections like never before.

While I understand making resolutions doesn’t have to only happen on New Year’s, there is that extra motivational push to do so when others around you are reflecting during the same time. By having so much free time this winter break to reflect, the new year is my chance to sit down and prepare a list of important actionable lifestyle changes I want to make.

In the past, I have always made a list of things I want to change in my life every new year. When I think about them now, I realize how materialistic those goals have been. I particularly remember 2012’s one where I wanted to do anything I can to get into a prestigious Ivy League and 2014’s one where I wanted that 4.0 next semester. Yes – these resolutions motivated me to do well, but I realize now how narrow-minded these resolutions were. Ivy Leagues. 4.0s. I was missing the point of life. I was not understanding the importance of happiness, positivity, and peace. It was always a rush to succeed and never about enjoying the process.

Not sure what has been so different about me when thinking about this year’s resolutions (maybe I’m just feeling 22 haha), but when I began jotting my goals, I realized it could very easily be summarized as leading a happy life. There was no specific achievement I wanted. Rather, it was to enjoy every day of my life. Maybe this is the after-effect of close family friends’ untimely deaths. Or maybe this is the senior college student nostalgia kicking in already. Or maybe this is just me being more aware of society around me. Regardless, I am beginning to see the world and my role here in a different light.

My resolutions may seem vague to many reading this, but to me, this is exactly how I want them to be. We have all been taught to make SMART goals with the S standing for specific. As you’ll see, my resolutions are not specific whatsoever. Rather, they’re just how I want to lead life this year and for years to follow. I believe these resolutions are the door to happiness and eventually, my perseverance to make my mark in society.

Read More.

The last physical book I read was probably over four years ago. I still read the news, but that’s not really the same. I always blamed lack of time for this, but this year I really want to start reading more. With the endless amount of perspectives and lives we can read about, books can give us an opportunity to have experiences that we haven’t had the opportunity to and still allow us to learn the life skills they entail. Through reading more, I hope to discover more about myself.

Live More [Fully].

Yup, you read that right. Live more. I want to live my life more fully. I will pursue to live every day on a fresh new start. I do not want to be and will not be held back by what happened yesterday, the day before, the week before, the year before, and so on. This also means to be true to who I really am. Unintentionally, we all try to be someone we are not to impress someone or want everyone to like us. While I made this change last year, I really want to continue this as it has made me a more confident and independent person. I’d rather be an original version of myself than an exact duplicate of someone else. And, the third change I want to bring about is to stop complaining. I never understood how I much I complain until a friend recently pointed out. Call it venting, b****ing, or whatever, but I tend to do this during stressful times, and I need to turn it down a notch. While it is important to share your feelings with close friends, over-complaining or criticizing brings them down too even if they don’t express it. So 2017, get ready for the more positive me!

Breathe More [Fresh Air].

This past year, I have been indoors way too much. Classes, meetings, meals, and assignments are all inside. I want to explore more Atlanta spots and take my reading, studying, and chilling there. I spend way too much time in my apartment and have always wanted to go outside to work on things, but I was never proactive. With my Fridays off this semester, I will have a great opportunity to explore the city I have spent practically my entire life in. Not only that, fresh air busts stress and increases happiness. Research shows that spending time in fresh air increases energy in 90 percent of people. This seems like a good resolution to me. 🙂

Give More [to Society].

In five months, I will have received my undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation. Why was it that I worked so hard to get this degree? It is honestly more the process and the four years of learning that has shaped me to be who I am now. Taking those fun courses that were outside the biomedical engineering curriculum was very honestly my secret to new ideas and passion. No matter how tough we think our lives are, there is always someone who has to face challenges that are even tougher than ours. Taking classes like sociology and leveraging social networks gave me a fresh take on how I can make a sustainable difference as opposed to volunteering at one holiday event. As a Girl Scout for 13 years and active member of various service organizations, I have kept my promise of giving back to society. However, this year I want to give more. I want to start an initiative myself going off my Gold Award project that I was and am still passionate about in 2013 — autism awareness. With the connections I have made these past four years, with the new advances I have learned about in my courses, and with the passion to lead and serve my community, I am really excited in launching this idea sometime the first half of this year.

Love More.

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy. ~ Kristin Chenoweth

Enough said. Bringing more happiness and positivity to not only myself but to those around me is exactly what I will be doing starting now.

Smile More.

One smile can make all the difference in the world. One smile has the power to release stress, calm you down, make you attractive, make someone else happy, and can cause happiness. I want to continue smiling through ups and downs and see more positivity in any situation. After all, I do think smiling more is the way to mastering the art of positive thinking.

Jump. Twist. Relax. Breathe.

My name, Abhinaya, is translated as dance expressions in Sanskrit; indeed, it is in dance that I find my fullest identity.

Jump. Twist. Relax. Breathe. The art of dance for me represents the intersection of these most elementary of movements with incredible elegance and sophistication. Back straight. Head held high. Smiling. It is at once the most complex, yet the simplest and most expressive activities I perform in any day; it is poetry in motion. As my body adjusts to the challenges of specific movements and gestures, my mind is free to drift, to sift through whatever needs organizing—the next day’s tasks, discord with a friend, or stress. As my arm and calf muscles loosen and my labored breathing relaxes, I am able to release that stress, forget that argument, and set my mind in order. In the middle of my routine, I stop and stare at myself in the mirror to admire my Bharathanatyam posture. I pause to feel my own strong heartbeat. Then, I dance again.

Sixteen years ago, my amma (as I call my sweet mother) dragged me to a dance class to introduce me to Bharathanatyam. I recall that day with a smile, for my first impression was – shall we say – less than positive. I confess my condescending glances at the Indian classical dancers, who looked so different, sitting in half-squats with their arms extended. But yielding to amma’s enthusiasm, I committed to give it a try. I couldn’t have imagined then how this beautiful ancient art would shape the way I experience the world and nurture my appreciation for expressions of love and beauty. Originating from South India, Bharathanatyam is one of the most cherished and popular classical Indian dance forms. This epitome of Indian cultural expression has been a bridge between my American and Indian lifestyles.

Over the years, I have gained much more from Bharathanatyam than just a dance education. While the study focuses on physical techniques, I have also learned the essence of diligence, patience, and perseverance. The strict discipline of Bharathanatyam has taught me to work very diligently, a trait that has served me well in all my pursuits.

I smile now remembering my little five-year-old self choosing to dance on a whim. What began as an activity I had to do every Sunday has become something that is a part of me. My name, Abhinaya, is translated as dance expressions in Sanskrit; indeed, it is in dance that I find my fullest identity. Bharathanatyam has given me the courage, confidence, and unique charisma to become the person I am today.

New Beginnings

Why start a WordPress? Honestly because I started sensing an inundated amount of ‘fakeness’ on other social media sites.

Why start a WordPress? Honestly because I started sensing an inundated amount of ‘fakeness’ on other social media sites from Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. My friends have this urge to post every single moment of their lives on social media or it didn’t happen for them. They worry about number of likes, followers, and birthday wishes, optimal profile picture change times (yes, this exists), and other silly social media things I also once worried about – not going to deny that. I soon realized that I needed a place to store my thoughts and freely share my opinions with everyone…not just my 1000+ acquaintances and friends I have on those sites. This being said, I haven’t quit using them either. I still use them for the university pages and free international messaging. I’m not entirely condemning social media; its positivity shined during the recent Tamil Nadu floods to save thousands of precious lives and the horrendous November Paris attacks to check on my friends who were studying abroad at that time. Social media isn’t bad; it’s just not ideal for voicing frank opinions and a ‘filter bubble’ exists. Selfies and supposedly ‘candid’ pictures beat photography. Useless memes beat passionate and opinionated posts. A perceived ideal life beats the reality. Hence, I decided to create a WordPress; my blog, the UPbeat soul, will showcase my everyday thoughts, observations, photography, passions, and occasionally other posts I feel the absolute urge to share. And now during the happiest and most positive time of the year (Summer Vacation!), here’s to spreading positivity for peace!