Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 17, 2021
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COURTESY OF SANIYA RAMCHANDANI

Ramchandani appreciates the strong women in her life, some of whom are pictured above.

This has been a strange and unprecedented time. The year 2020, for the most part, has been hell on wheels. That said, the personal growth I have achieved in this one year is comparable to that of the last six years combined. 

Around now is when I would normally be creating new fitness routines and Googling innovative ways to integrate kale into my diet for the perfect New Year’s resolutions. This time, though, they’re going to look a little different. I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Start and end the day unplugged

With all the chaos of the world, and most modes of communication being virtual right now, we need to carve out time to focus on life and the moments in front of us. At the minimum, I want to dedicate the first 30 minutes of every morning, and the last 30 minutes of every night to self-care in some form, whether that’s skin-care, reading, meditating, painting or any other calming activity that enriches my soul as opposed to stimulating my brain.

2. Appreciate my meals

As someone who has struggled with my eating habits in the past, I want to continue to nurture a healthier relationship with food. Breakfast is certainly the most important meal of the day, and over the last few months, paying attention to what I eat in the morning has made a world of difference. Treating food as a reward for “good behavior,“ whether that’s going for a run or spinning, is not the mindset I want to have. Food is fuel and necessary, and I need to treat it as such.

3. Maintain an ethical and sustainable wardrobe

There are so many problems with the fashion industry, from pollution to inhumane and cruel supply chains and practices. From burning out of season collections to horrific conditions for factory workers in favor of cheap labor, acknowledging the incredible amount of power we have as consumers is paramount to rectifying these issues and holding brands accountable. 

Earlier this year, I downloaded an app called Good On You. They do the work in looking into the practices of some of the world’s largest brands so you don’t have to. Going forward, I want to curate an entirely ethical and sustainable wardrobe by only supporting brands that produce pieces with humanity in mind and buying or renting secondhand or thrifting.

4. Say “no” when I mean no

I have learned the hard way that there is no need to overextend myself to please anyone else. The important thing to remember is that the only person I actually have to live with forever is myself. At the end of the day, no matter what I do, someone won’t be pleased with it, so I might as well make sure that “someone” isn’t me. This applies to many situations, whether it’s saying no to spending time with people when I need time to myself, or even just saying no to myself when it’s 3 a.m. and I’ve convinced myself that I need to study more instead of sleeping.

5. Keep my convictions strong

One of the toughest lessons I’ve learned — and that I’ve been writing about recently — is how to distance myself from situations and people that don’t treat me the way I deserve. It’s okay to not be liked by everyone as long as in my heart of hearts, I know that I’m doing what’s right, fair and good for my mental health. Loyalty, integrity and kindness are the three most important values to me in people. To the absolute best of my abilities and character, I hold myself to the highest standards of those categories as well. Aside from getting space from situations and people where those traits are not present, I want to continue to develop them within myself as well.

6. Love my ladies

The only thing that has truly gotten me through this year in one piece is the incredible women in my life. From my mother to my cousins to my closest friends, I have role models all around me whom I can count on and look to for inspiration and advice. I feel so lucky to know so many wonderful ladies. I appreciate the men in my life immensely, and they know this, but there is something so empowering about surrounding myself with strong women. They are the ones who taught me to find teachable moments in tough times and come out of every negative situation with a different strength realized.

Essentially, 2020 has really caused me to reevaluate my priorities. For the first time in my life, I’m at the top of the list, and let me tell you, it feels liberating in a way that words can’t describe.

I highly recommend mapping out your own New Year’s resolutions and looking far below the surface when you do so. The world might not miraculously heal overnight, but with all the pain and difficulty we’ve all faced in 2020, we each deserve a few moments of reflection and a pat on the back for making it through. Consider this mine to you.

Saniya Ramchandani is a senior studying Physics from Singapore. Her column is a reflective narrative that chronicles her experiences navigating various aspects of college life.

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