Reflections of 2020 (and my 40th year of life)

Vera Futorjanski
6 min readJan 25, 2021


First of all, a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone for your birthday wishes!!

Cheers to 41! (I can’t believe it myself!!)

I plan to live the 41st year of my life with the intention to follow Maya Angelou’s words to the fullest — “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”

Below some reflections on the last 365 days:

My 40th I celebrated in Davos during the WEF. I remember it as if it was just a month ago — it was at the famous Piano Bar where my dear friend Mike had the piano player sing happy birthday for me at midnight. Random people were hugging and kissing me, all sweaty from dancing in an overcrowded closed space. No one social distanced. Ahhh the birthdays will never be the same again… I met old friends, made lots of new friends. More sweaty hugs and kisses, lots of dancing, crying and laughing of happiness. The new year of life started on the highest note I could have ever wished for

And then… The last 365 days have been, hmmm how could I put it best, — intense, calm, difficult, beautiful, inspiring, painful, lonely, loving, like falling into a deep dark hole at times… but more than anything this past year taught me compassion. For 7 weeks during the lockdown in Dubai I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner on my own, until I finally shared a (cold) pizza with 2 dear friends (Ronnie and Melda). That was one of the best meals I ever had. Because I had shared it with friends. After 7 weeks of eating alone.

The first 4 weeks of the lockdown I also had not seen anyone. Besides the pharmacy guy and the super market staff. So when I had finally seen a friend (Diana and her daughter), and we hugged after 4 weeks of no human touch it felt like it was one of the best hugs I had ever received. And I realized how I need and cannot live without human hugs in my life. Especially from friends who truly care. You can feel that energy. It’s all an energy exchange. You get what you give.

My close friends circle became smaller but stronger in 2020. I am so grateful for the close friends with whom I was in regular contact and who kept me on track. I cherish the mutual emotional support we gave each other one the past 12 months. You know who you are. I love you.

The last year taught me compassion on a whole different level. We say we have empathy, compassion, etc, but I think if we haven’t experienced it ourselves it’s very difficult to have true compassion from the heart. I had no idea how truly hard it is to be, live, and eat alone for so long… In 2020 I developed compassion for people who live alone. I admire their strength. (If you are alone, do reach out to me and let’s discuss how I could help).

In 2020 I realized I am much more an introvert than I thought. I learned to enjoy being alone and I now crave those moments frequently. It was a process. I have been an extrovert all my life. Thank you 2020 for slowing me down and giving me time to be alone and not having to travel.

The last 365 days I spent more time with my family than I have since 2008. The silver lining of covid, + me not making money while focusing on making a big dream a reality (to be announced soon), hence leaving Dubai for a few months, and moving back in with my parents in Germany (which at my age wasn’t easy believe me). However, once I accepted the circumstances as they are and fully immersed myself into the new scenario (knowing its only for a couple of months), it was beautiful and loving to spend so much time with my parents and grandparents. They are my rocks in life and I am so grateful for them.

The last year I gave more talks, webinars, fireside chats, judging of hackathons and demo days, moderating panels and interviews than the last years combined. I pushed myself to speak on panels and topics and give talks on subjects I wasn’t truly an expert in. But you know what they say — if you really want to understand something, teach it. Couldn’t be more true! In general I think 2020 has been a year of seeking knowledge for many people, from how to use zoom to how to make bread. I hope we all continue seeking to expand our knowledge bases and keep that desire to learn new things.

The last year I realized how many people know that wellness is very important for me and turned to me for advice on mental health issues and other challenges they were facing, or even just for some green juice recipes or meditation advice. I am grateful I was able to help some of them. But even for me, who has been practicing mindfulness and wellness for many years now, the last year has been very tough, especially the last few weeks of the year. So let’s just give us all credit for making it through and for being present and actually having the focus to read this text all the way up to here :) You did it!

On that note — if you are feeling down, feeling as if you are falling into a dark black hole, know that you are not alone. I have gone through that phase before as well, especially the last 6 weeks. Some people to whom I mentioned it were surprised to hear that someone like me has such moments. But yes, I do. We all do. In fact I never had it as bad as the last weeks. So, please don’t think it’s just you or that it’s never ending. It will end eventually. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And if it happens to you, don’t stay quiet. Speak about it. And remember you have agency over your life. What helped me immensely was to speak with close friends and with my family about it, and to get acupuncture. Happy to speak about it if you need help.

How many times I have paraphrased Darwin last year in several talks I gave — its not the most intelligent or strongest who survive, but those most adoptable to change. This past 365 days proved that again and again.

And resilience… oh how 2020 taught me resilience. And patience.

I had left a well paid job to launch my own company — Veritas Ventures for those who don’t know yet. All lined up projects were put on hold due to covid. Same for all payments for those projects obviously… By staying open to opportunities and being adaptable to change I had to “pivot” so to speak and focus on something else. I have been working on building a wellbeing / wellness VC fund. It’s a long way to go still. And that road is very tough, and with many sacrifices. However, I am looking forward to one day be investing in startups that are making an impact in this post covid world. Meanwhile I continue doing advisory work.

So, here we go some of my (vulnerable) reflections.

My wishes for you for 2021 are:

  • Push yourself into areas you feel you don’t (yet) know much about. You can learn anything if you really want to. Be a knowledge seeker. “The secret of success is an ungovernable curiosity” Larry King.
  • Take care of your mental health. I can not stress this enough. Eat well, exercise, and sleep! I love what Arianna Huffington once said: “Sleep your way to the top”. Meaning get enough hours of sleep and you can move mountains! + remember “A happy life consists in tranquility of the mind” Cicero.
  • Love yourself. Take care of yourself first, so you can help others. Like on a plane — put on your mask first.





Vera Futorjanski

CEO VeritasVentures Ex @500startups @DubaiFuture @RocketBerlin Founder of a startup / Global Ambassador @vitalvoices / Innovation Expert @WEF and @UN