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  • Sabah Kadir

What the hell was 2019?

Almost a month into 2020, and I'm finally sitting down write on a public forum for the first time since December 2018.

2019: The most intense year of my life, yet I couldn't bring myself to sit down and write a single word of it down. Reasons for the stagnation of my writing boil down to:

1. Pure shitshow time management.

2. Apprehension to put moments of extreme transformation into a digestible format. Paralyzing fear that the joy may only be fleeting or the sadness may be neverending.

3. Bouts of feeling that I didn't want to commodify my thoughts and feelings, and fear that I would begin writing for others' enjoyment rather than my own release.

Now reflecting on 2019, my one and only regret and biggest disappointment is dropping the ball on writing. My first post ever - Going For It - was an ode to taking my growth into a public forum and speaking my life into existence. In 2020, I challenge myself to practice this again.

So, for at least some semblance of an update, here's a summary of 2019, in no particular order:


- Mourning the loss of my external hard drive which housed ALL OF THE PHOTOS FROM SAFARI IN SOUTH AFRICA. Moment of silence for that one.


- Grew my freelance photography to be more than just some extra pocket money. Got booked to absolute capacity during grad season & was a photographer for the Carolina Union. Continued serving as Photo Director along with the talented Gabrielle Thompson at Coulture Magazine, which was a an invigorating source for my creativity throughout undergrad.


- Took engaging classes, encouraging me to take ownership of my work. Consulted local nonprofits, and really got in the weeds of real-world policy issues. Developed and built an interactive Gucci exhibit about fashion sustainability with WorkRoom FashionMash (led by the ever-amazing Dana McMahan)

Exhibit titled "What Would You Do," where we modeled the tough decisions made along the fashion supply chain

- Got first place in the Carolina Challenge for early stage digital product with Shearless!


- Rushed Franklin after we beat dook, obviously, among other Tar Heel activities


- Lived with the best roommates.

- Went to New Orleans with the largest and most eclectic group of friends (read: highly educated, talented, rambunctious, engaging) that anyone has ever been lucky enough to have


- Went to Tokyo, Japan and explored the fashion industry there. Highlights include shopping at Harajuku where things are actually made for shorter people (hello non-tailored flare pants!) & learning from the Issey Miyake design team


- DYED MY HAIR PINK! A long-time Pinterest-board dream fulfilled

- Got even stronger than I was the year before! Shoutout to Sarah Plott for training and inspiring me for 2 years.


- Spent loads of time (but never quite enough) having fun and spreading love with friends in NC

- Sang at my last a cappella concert with UNC Samaa

- Graduated college with my best friends


- Went to Vancouver a couple times this year and spent quality time with my family. Attended my cousin's beautiful wedding! Met other cousin's newborn baby! Spent time with the rest of my cousins! Watched and felt as my family adapted to the changing states of my grandfather's health and needs. An ongoing period of acute love, stress, fear, sadness, and more.

- Finally "introduced" my boyfriend, Shehab, to my family. I swear sometimes they like him more than me!


- Travelled with my best friend, Pooja, to:

Hong Kong


Sabah, Malaysia

Siem Reap, Cambodia


- Moved to Philly for the summer and interned at Anthropologie. Grew professionally by learning the ropes of marketing from one of the most powerful B2C brands; met some uber talented folks. But personally, was pretty depressed and not in the best place on many fronts. By the end of it all, I had learned a hell of a lot but realized that, although something may seem like it should be perfect, one has to do what's best for one's current season of life.

- Turned 22 with my best friend since middle school, Adair AKA Lauren, coming to visit me. Other bright spots included Sonia and Shehab visiting and me skipping town on weekends to see friends in other cities as well. I realized how extremely lucky I am to have pure love around me at all times.

- Started my first big girl job at Cisco as a Marketing Specialist with a cohort of amazing coworkers/friends. Jumped headfirst into getting involved with Circular Economy at Cisco, learning from the big dawgs about sustainability in large enterprise

I can't actually describe this past year, which led me to the title of this post.

This post is also very me-centric, and doesn't even address situations among my loved ones or larger global issues.

This brief synopsis of some of the bigger personal events doesn't even graze the surface of the day to day moments - the moments that opened my eyes, grew my confidence, made me shrink away in fear, retreat into myself in sadness, uplifted me to new heights, and pretty much everything else in the book.

Life is weird.

When I look back on 2019, I am inundated with intense life lessons and transformation.

Here are my biggest takeaways:

- Nothing ever beats the power of suggestion

- Living each day intentionally means that no space can be made for complacency

- The grass is not greener on the other side - it's greenest where you water it

In 2020, I may not be the hyperactive undergrad running from photoshoots to Gucci installments to the other side of the world to critical analyses of public policy to business development for startups, but there is so much to come in new forms I probably can't even foresee right now.

My promises to myself for this year:

Each day, I will practice intentionality when it comes to my relationships, health, and time. I will act upon my desires and dreams instead of pushing back from fear or lethargy. I will not be afraid of twists and turns, but excited for what lies around the bend.

I struggle to close this post, so I leave you with the sage words of the voice of our generation, Natasha Bedingfield: "Today is where your book begins - the rest is still unwritten."

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