Alright y’all, it’s here, my turning 27 post. Cool Cool Cool. So I am posting this right before turning 27 …
Happy [almost] Birthday to me!! There are 27 minutes until I turn 27!
So I struggled with this blog post because I have no idea what to write. I feel like growing up I thought “26-29” would be great ages, and honestly, 26 hasn’t disappointed so far. I hope 27 is good too. But 27 is when people really start getting their life together. It’s the age I thought every woman gets engaged/married. So uh, maybe I’ll get engaged/married this year?? Though I don’t really see that happening, so uh NEXT! 27 is also officially out of “mid-20s” … maybe. Can I continue saying mid-20s in 27? I feel like with 26 it made sense because 24-26 are “mid” 20s, but what is 27??
So I did basic math, and 10+9+8 = 27, so I’m going to a 10-year reflection, 9 lessons learned/accomplishments of 26, and 8 things I’m looking forward to doing while 27!
10 Years Looking Back
Okay so 10 years ago on February 28, I was turning 17, so I was in the 11th grade. 11th grade was a wild time. I really loved my high school and I loved my friends. Having a birthday in high school was always so fun because your friends would go to Party City and buy you balloons, and your baking-savvy friends would make delicious desserts, and other friends would buy you presents, so you’d just be hobbling around the corridors of the hall dragging 15 balloons and carrying extra bags along with your backpack, and random people would wish you happy birthday. It would be nice to usually get a friend to walk you to your classes too so you always were walking around with a buddy/friendly face. All the teachers would be extra nice to you, even when you entered the class and went straight to the back to put all your swag in a place where no one’s view is blocked. Sometimes the teachers would get the class to sing you happy birthday (has anyone ever figured out what to do while people are singing you happy birthday??? Like I literally just sit there and awkwardly smile). During lunch, you would sit and share all your desserts with your friends and happily read your cards like the little queen you are. Wow, it’s no wonder I’m obsessed with my birthday 10 years later. I’m actually not sure if other high schoolers had this experience? Was it just a Wootton thing?? Non-Wootton High School people who read this, let me know in the comments whether you had similar traditions in your high school or not? And if not, what were your high school birthday celebrations?
But more than just enjoying my birthday, 17 was a really interesting time. It was when I was taking the SATs, thinking about which colleges I wanted to apply to, and figuring out the “rest of my life.”
A lot of the time now I think about what teenage me would think of me. I think she’d be really proud. For so long I wanted to be a lawyer, and now here I am. And there were so many other goals I had that felt so impossible to achieve as a 17-year-old who hadn’t really experienced the world. Goals that now I don’t even remember and that I take for granted. Accomplishments and events that seemed like such a big deal when I was 17 are forgotten in the recesses of my brain. Not because I don’t care, but because we just find new goals and new life events to look forward to.
Not to self-plug my podcast, (especially because ya girl still only has 2 episodes. I just need to sit down and record – I have so many thoughts and zero follow through!!!) but I talked about it a bit in episode 1! Where a lot of the time we have this idea of “Once I get XYZ, I’ll be happy.” But then we work towards the goal and we work incredibly hard, thinking it’ll solve all our problems, and then immediately create another goal and not enjoy where we are. We don’t even realize that we’re at the place we dreamed about being for years.
So today, I want to give a little shoutout to 17-year old Sandhya. I want to take a few moments to be grateful for what I have and not to qualify it. Because I am grateful for this moment and I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. All the little moments in my life, have led me to this moment, and this moment, is exactly right.
Just like when I was 17, I’m now once again going to be going through a life change at 27! I’ll be finishing my clerkship and I’ll be starting a new job in D.C. – aka my dream job (!!!!!) And if you told me 10 years ago that this is where I’d be, I don’t know if I’d entirely believe you. It’s hard to look beyond the next step of our lives. At that point, it was just, “let me get into college and figure out my major, and I’ll worry about law school later.” Law School. It sounded like such a ridiculously hard and impossible thing to achieve. Now I’m like, “oh yeah, those 3 years flew by.”
If I could give my 17-year-old self advice right now, I would tell her to hang in there. Maybe I’ve time-traveled in the way of a fortune cookie to tell her that. But I’m glad she kept persevering and continued to follow her dreams. Here we are now, [almost] at 27!! Cheers!!
9 Things I learned during 26
26 was a wildly packed year. So I turned 26 in February, then I graduated law school in May, took the bar in July, went on a lovely vacation to Hilton Head! (our first trip since the Pandemic … which oh, I should write a blog post about it!!), started my clerkship in August, passed the bar in November, got sworn in as a lawyer in December, finished another calendar year in the pandemic, started 2022, got a new job for post-clerkship, and I really feel like I became a better person throughout all of it.
But there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned too – maybe incorrect lessons, and maybe lessons other people have already figured out. But I reread my turning 24 blog post because I included a lot of life lessons there, and wow, I was a lot wiser than I thought I was. So I would like to incorporate by reference all the contents of that blog post. I’m so happy my law degree is coming in handy for blog posts! But anyway, there are some that I’ll be reinstating/repeating/emphasizing.
1. Engage in Lifelong Learning
So I attended this great webinar this past week, called “So You Want To Be A Judge?” and the judge I interned for last year and the judge I’m currently clerking for, both spoke on it. And they had similar advice which is, learn everything you can.
That’s pretty much been my motto for a while. The imposter syndrome never really goes away with work, but the biggest way I can figure out how to tackle it is to educate myself on the topics I’m working on. Right now it’s family law, and soon it’ll be Antitrust. So you better believe I created a schedule for an antitrust refresher course over the next 6 months.
But even more than just law-related topics, there is so much out there to learn. I was speaking with two of my friends the other day, and they were mentioning advice they would give to current college students. One of my friends said, “I would tell them to take classes outside the ones you would normally take” which I think is so important. That was a really nice thing about college and law school – my entire job was to learn and to study, and I definitely took it for granted.
But now, I want to continue that. So I decided to sign up for some courses at the local community college on topics I’m interested in. Obviously, those of you who know me know that those would fall under Architecture and Art History. BUT, I think in addition to those, I’m going to retake a higher-level math class to refresh myself on multivariable calculus, and I’ve never really been great at History or Geography, so I think it’ll be nice to do that as well!
And I hope that in all the jobs that I have in the future, I can continue to learn more, both at the job, and make the time outside of the job to keep learning
2. Go be unapologetically yourself
Listen, I’ve said this before. I think I really need to embrace all aspects of my life and really just do it. Lately, it’s been a lot easier to live my life and not really care what people say – remember it’s not the critic who counts. I don’t think I’m ever going to reach that phase of my life where I don’t care at all what people say – of course, I care what people say and think about me. But I think it’s important to recognize the difference between the noise and the people who are actually there. The ones who can say, “Hey I love you, but that wasn’t great” or, “Are you sure you want to do this?” And I have to be better at taking that criticism in a non-personal way.
3. EVERYTHING can be done with compassion
There’s a way to say things, and even candid truths can be said in a kind way. I read this great Ten Percent Happier article last night about compassion, and it talked about how being compassionate is such a great quality, and it can happen in places that we don’t even recognize. Like the workplace for example! Definitely an interesting read 🙂
Or, the one where I really try my best to insert compassion – when I’m fighting with a loved one. It’s not, “UGH you make me so angry!!” It’s, “Hey I felt hurt when xyz” – it’s not an attack, it’s an explanation of feeling and explaining where you’re coming from.
That little step towards being compassionate makes a huge difference!
4. Be BRAVE
I’m still not great at this – I don’t take huge leaps of faith, even though a lot of my friends say that I’m braver than I realize. Maybe they’re right. I think everyone has to be brave to get through the daily stresses of life.
Brave to wake up every day and be hopeful about the day and the world. Brave about fighting for what you believe in, and fighting for other people. Bravery happens every day, in the smallest interactions we have.
Keep being brave
Do something that’s scary. Be vulnerable!
5. To quote Brene Brown, “I get so busy sometimes chasing the extraordinary moments, that I don’t pay attention to the ordinary moments. The moments, that if taken away, I would miss more than anything”
This is a huge one. This quote really resonated with me when I watched Brene Brown’s Netflix special Call to Courage. There are so many moments that I take for granted – the mundane moments that I don’t think are really worth anything when I’m having them. But years later, those are the moments that I remember.
There are a lot of people that I love that are far away from me – across states and across countries. And when I remember fond moments with them, it’s moments like, “Remember when we played cards with nana and nani” and “remember those days when we would stay up eating maggi in the living room in India before we fell asleep?” and “I loved walking around UPenn with a cup of coffee and just enjoying the fresh air.”
These moments, that I miss the most because I never get to have them. These moments that other people probably take for granted when they experience them every day.
Enjoy the little moments – enjoy the ordinary.
6. Be Humble but Be Proud
This one goes without saying. There have been a lot of really amazing milestones in my life recently, and I’ve of course been proud, but there’s a moment that I will never forget.
It was November 5, 2021 – the day my bar results came out. The results came out at 4:30 pm exactly. And all that week I was trying to keep my cool. On November 5, my friends were refreshing the results page over and over again, waiting for the “pass” or “fail” next to our seat number.
I didn’t check the website once. I talked to my judge, and she said something really incredible. She said, “In life and your career there are such few moments like this where you’re anticipating something and you’re not really sure what’s going to happen, and it’s actually a very cool feeling.” And I really needed to hear that.
I left the courthouse at 4:25 and got to my car at 4:28. I put on a meditation in the car and started driving. I don’t even remember the meditation, to be honest. But I remember sitting there and breathing, and telling myself, “before you check this score, you’re going to reach a place of Zen. A place where you know that if you passed the exam, you will be humble because you know that so many people don’t pass on their first try. And if you don’t pass, then you know that this is just something that happened, and you’ll work harder the next time.”
I got home at 4:45, and I still didn’t check. I went to my room and I still didn’t check. I finally got to a place where I felt relaxed and I understood the gravity of the situation but also the reality of both options. And finally, I checked at 5:45.
It was a really incredible feeling – coming to terms that no matter what happens, it’ll be okay.
Obviously, I’m proud, and I love hearing when my friends and family tell me they’re proud of me, but you can be proud without being prideful.
7. Be Kind
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
8. Be a Fighter Pilot
This one has a bit of a backstory to it. I was going through a tough time in April 2021. Covid was bad, a lot of my family in India was struggling, and it was right in the middle of final exams. I called my favorite professor on the phone and I told him, “I don’t think I can do this”
And he started telling me a story. Years ago he went to an airshow through McDonnell Douglas. Long story short, from what I remember in the story, there was a pilot whose engine failed while he was flying, and his plane was falling from the sky. The pilot was talking to the base the entire time, while the base was telling him feet markers so the pilot will know when to eject, so you’re hearing, “50,000, 45,000, 40,000, 35,000…” etc.
Meanwhile, the pilot is in the plane, and he’s calmly speaking to the base. “Okay, right now I’m trying Option A. That didn’t work, so now I’m going to try option B. That didn’t work, so now I’m going to try Option C”
Finally base tells the pilot to eject and parachute, and he did. He made it safely, and he stayed calm.
My professor said, “Be a fighter pilot. Do what you need to do and keep going through it.” And that was really the inspiration that I needed.
Take a deep breath – it’ll all be okay.
8 things I want to do in 27
Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about focusing on happiness. But like, what even is happiness? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. But I also looked at the list of things I wanted to do in 25 – a lot of which didn’t happen because of Pandemic™. I think it’s really interesting when you look at past goals. Things that seemed so important to me at the time, shift based on where I am in my life. There are goals like, “I’m going to go work out every day” which have changed to: “I hate working out so instead, I’ll take 2 flights of stairs every day when getting to the 8th floor. But goals are also really interesting, because there are some that you said you would accomplish, and you have! And you don’t even realize that you accomplished them. One example would be “buy a car” – which I did!! (Shoutout to Evelyn!) Or get a job at a law firm – well damn, I just did that too. Or my favorite, “get back into volunteering” which I have been doing!! I think that’s really very cool, to be honest. But anyway, back to happiness, I’m not entirely sure what that entails but here are a few things that I want to do at 27 that really solidify that goal!
1. Do more impulsive activities – do more things that I love, and do a lot of it
I really just want to embrace the weirdness. I just want to do what I want because I want to do it! And I think starting every day with, “what would make me happy today?” and going and doing that thing, is a great place for me to start. Sometimes that’ll be me spending more time unplugging and reading before bed. Sometimes it’ll be eating junk food all day instead of “real meals” (what is a “real meal” anyway – it’s all a hoax!). Sometimes it’ll be simply sitting on my bed and rewatching Friends.
2. Achieve that wholesome vibe
So lately, I’ve been watching How I Met Your Father, and honestly, it’s a really great and cute show – and I think I love it because of Hilary Duff! I’ve always loved Hilary Duff, from her Lizzie McGuire days, to her 2015 “Breathe In Breathe Out” Album, to Younger, and to now! There’s just something about her that makes me really happy – and she seems very kind, passionate, and wholesome.
I want 27 to be like that. I want someone to think of me and be like, “Sandhya is really wholesome” – that means getting better at not getting angry, and being kinder and radiating happiness. I think I can do it!! I think I’ll try every day to make the world a little happier place and to cheer up the people around me 🙂
3. Keep up with meditation and be more mindful
So far I’ve been doing an okay job with meditating, but I want to keep it going! I can actually feel the effects from it and I love it so far – but there’s always room for improvement.
And in terms of being mindful – that can happen with everything. That happens with mindful eating, mindful driving, and even mindfully making your coffee in the morning.
My problem is that the enemy of me being mindful is time – if I’m stressed, then I’m not mindful at all. But that’s exactly what I need to be!
4. Actually dive deeper with my podcast and write more blog posts.
Let’s see if this actually happens… fingers crossed. I mean, hopefully, you all like my content?!
5. Trust yourself, and trust the process (Directly from my 26th post)
“Everyone wants a perfect ending. But over the years, I’ve learned that some of the best poems don’t rhyme, and many great stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end. Life is about not knowing everything, embracing change, and taking a moment to make the best of what you’ve been given without knowing what’s going to happen next” (Courtesy of Tumblr)
6. Get better at forgiveness and anger
This goes back to #2 and #3. There’s this really great technique I learned about through the Headspace App, and it was about how we can acknowledge feelings without letting them consume us. So instead of saying, “I am angry” it’s, “I’m feeling anger” – and not letting that entire emotion dictate how you’re feeling.
For me, the toughest emotions to do this with will be anger, anxiety, and frustration. So hopefully I can work towards this goal.
7. Do more things by myself
I have gotten to the point where I don’t even go on errands by myself anymore. I’ll take my parents or I’ll take my best friend Katie (thanks Katie!) where even if it’s just going to Giant or picking up candles at Target. And I really love those moments when we’re together, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m putting off doing errands until Katie is free, and I want to get better at the “alone time!”
8. Become my favorite self.
Lastly, is become my favorite self. There’s a lot of talk about people becoming their “best” self – but I don’t think my best self is my favorite self. My best self is probably a girl who wakes up at 6 am and is working out and eating acai bowls and goes to her job but not before picking up a coffee at her favorite cafe, and just I don’t know, “adult things.”
Maybe someday I’ll be that girl, but right now it’s not me! Those things won’t make me happy right now, or rather, they could, but not waking up at 6 am, because, no thanks.
I want to spend 27 becoming my favorite self and being happy with myself and not necessarily being the “best” I can be – because we can always be better, and what is life without improvements?
Let me know what you all think about these reflections, lessons, and goals, and feel free to share below!
That’s it for now!! Ya girl is almost done being 26 and turning 27. But also like, adjusted for Pandemic™, I’m still 25.
Until next time!
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