So how do I perceive hope? That life will be smooth sailing? Nope. That life will be like a cactus with thorns, We have to take them out one at a time, while life scorns. Yet we must strive, To overcome the adversities and thrive.
When we overcome one challenge, And start to recover from the damage, Bam comes another one, Bigger, tougher, mightier. Nowhere to hide. Just run.
Run not away, but towards the obstacle, Fight it, beat it and skillfully tackle. Till nothing much remains of it, You emerge victorious while it hangs its head in defeat.
No time to get complacent or to rest, Round the corner awaits the next test. We must be bold, brave and courageous, And be prepared to face it head-on, no matter how dangerous.
So How do I perceive hope? Like hanging onto a thinning rope, Moving through all of life’s adversities, Cutting through endless hardships and difficulties. With the belief that the rope won’t give away, And that, life at the other end of the rope shall be easy one day.
A few weeks back I was watching Sex And The City…and saw the scene where Samantha breaks up with her hot bf saying this:
I love you but I love me more. ~ Samantha Jones, Sex and the city.
So I have seen this before (yes coz am one of those who keeps watching things again and again) but suddenly this time it hit home. And it really got me thinking…We all love a lot of things or a lot of people….we love our parents, siblings,friends, Boyfriends, girlfriends,we love our homes,plants and on and on….but we often forget to love the most important person in our lives….ourselves.
If something in life doesn’t go as planned, we are always the first to blame ourselves. Why did I do this? What’s wrong with me? Why does this always happen to me? It must have been my fault. You get the thought process right? But when something goes right, we tend to give credit to everyone and everything but ourselves. We say things like ‘oh I just got lucky’ or ‘oh that other person really made it happen’…but we hardly ever say..even to ourselves…yes man you did it. You worked at it and you got it going..well done you. Am I right or wrong? But why is that?
Is it a personal trait or is it a more generalized thing that can be attributed to our society, our parents, childhood and our upbringing in general? What makes it such a common phenomena to easily loathe ourselves but hardly ever appreciate ourselves? Honestly I think it’s an amalgamation of all these things in varying proportions in each of our lives.
Whatever be the cause, the effect is this: we are conditioned to be self critical. Particularly for girls. We are always so critical of our looks, our appearance, our social standing,what our husbands and boyfriends think of us, what our friends think of us…. and these days we have an additional worry of our social media image (as if life wasn’t tough as it is). Always being vigilant to click pictures in angles that work best to hide our physical flaws. Why? What are we so afraid of? Body shaming? Bullying? Criticism? But we already do all that to ourselves anyways 🙄 . Then why is it so important what others think of us?
It’s perhaps because we are so conditioned to seeking others’ approval for self worth. And isn’t that the most bizarre thing? That we need to depend on someone else’s opinion of us to make us realize what we are. Who we are. And what’s our worth really. The more I thought about the twisted logic in this…the more I realized what a dumbass idea it really is. And what a big idiot I have been all this while. Well, I guess in that moment, the feisty spirit of Samantha took over me and I was determined to put an end to this. To stop craving any and evryone’s approval and seek my own. To be confident in my own skin and to take the reigns of my Self worth in my own hands(ok that sounds dramatic 😛😛) but I think you get the idea.
And well the good news is that this feeling,this attitude..it is reversible. It won’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up one fine day and stop seeking validation from others and be all mushy in self love.No. That’s not gonna happen (wish it did, though). It’s going to be hardwork, especially at the beginning, because it isn’t easy to suddenly change your attitude,your outlook and your approach to life that you’ve had for several years, perhaps decades. Some pointers that I found to be useful in this new found pursuit of self love that I found to be particularly useful:
* Stop seeking validation from anyone. * Be your ONLY and best judge. * Spend time to asses yourself-your strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement. * Appreciate your strengths. Things that make you unique and loveable. And hold on to it no matter what. * Identify weaknesses. Don’t be too harsh but am sure everyone has some flaws, some shortcomings. Identify them before giving a chance for someone else to point them out to you. * make a list of areas of improvement. Some skills you might wanna learn or brush up or inculcate. * be kind to yourself. * Prepare a mantra that you can keep repeating to yourself to keep up the morale to keep going. * And the most difficult but absolutely essential thing…learn to love yourself. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (remember Bridget jones’ diary😛😜)
So next time you feel the blues and feel like you’re swimming in a sea of self pity and worthlessness… remember this ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup…take care of yourself first’.
Coz the ultimate truth is this….We are all one of a kind. Unique, Fabulous and Effing Awesome. ❤️❤️
At the very onset, let me clarify this is NOT a blog about mathematics but rather a sudden realization that’s growing stronger over time as we spend more and more time quarantined at home due to the ongoing pandemic that’s taken over every aspect of our lives and the world at large.
So what’s so special about us 90’s kids that made me put it in the title of my blog? Well to begin with, we are probably the last generation that can speak of a gadget free childhood. When kids were not addicted to video games but rather looked forward to going outside and playing every evening with our friends, returning home with dirty clothes due to playing in the mud. When hide and seek or cricket or football used to be our favourite thing to do. When watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Popeye the sailor brought unlimited joy. When using fountain pens at school gave us a sense of ‘growing up’. When school term beginning meant the very important process of covering our books with brown paper and of course when we actually carried all these books in our heavy square bags. When classroom meant sitting on benches playing tic tac toe or hangman with friends in notebooks and lunchtime meant sharing our food with friends. When we used to wait for special occasions like festivals to get new clothes. When Sundays meant a specially cooked meal by mom. When summer and winter holidays were spent playing indoor games like cards, carrom, ludo, snakes and ladders or scrabble with the entire family. It was all about spending quality time with the family. When hot ginger tea was the best beverage and partying meant attending a wedding or Birthday party. It was all so simple and yet so much fun. For those of us who very proudly refer to ourselves as the 90’s kids..am sure these memories will ring true with each one of you. Surely the best of times- those good ol’ days.
As we entered into the new century, technology gradually started making an entry into our lives. I remember my first desktop with a huge big screen and an even bulkier CPU. Oh the adrenaline rush of playing Road Rash or Pacman for the first time. And then there was THE INTERNET. Which till today I firmly believe to be the best invention in the last 100 years!!! And the joy of Google search. Everything I ever wanted to know about the world was now just a click away. Much before Facebook came knocking, we had Orkut. Where it was the moral obligation of my friends to write a testimonial for me. As a testament to our friendship. Longer the testimonial, the better friends we were. Amen.
With each passing day, more and more technology made its way into our lives. First we had those big bulky Nokia mobiles with antennae that looked like satellite phones used by spies in movies, soooo heavy that if thrown it could crack a skull or two (just saying, never tried though😛). I remember my first phone. It had a coloured screen. And was primarily used for incessant messaging with friends the night before semester exams. And then came the next best invention of this millennium…..THE SMARTPHONE!!!❤️❤️ And that pretty much changed EVERYTHING we have known this far.
Coz you see..the smartphone became more than just a phone. It became our whole life … on the move. No more visiting banks, putting ads in paper for prospective spouse search, job hunting, reading books, standing in long queues to pay bills or buying groceries. all this was now done with the touch of a button. And of course, most importantly, it took over our social lives. The world became smaller and accessible. It connected us with friends who stayed a few continents away. It gave us easy access to just about any information.. practically anything and everything was now at our fingertips. Time pass became an unhealthy obsession of putting every bit of our lives, our habits out on social media. To voice our opinion on just about everything….coz all we had to was just rant and type. Without us even realizing…the smartphone just literally took over every aspect of Our lives. It truly was the Harbinger of a new era…the Digital era. And man do we love it.
Life was now on the fast track. Forgot to pay your bills? Just make an online payment. Wanna skip work, just drop a mail. Feeling bored at home? Just book tickets online and off you are on a vacation. Wanna eat ice-cream at midnight? Just order it online. Wanna spend a lazy weekend at home? Just binge watch on Netflix. Wanna make your friends jealous of your amazing life? Just upload pics on Instagram. Wanna ramble on about your thoughts? Just post on Facebook. Wanna voice your opinion on ANY matter? Just tweet it. Wanna go to party on a weekend? Just call an Uber. Miss your family ? Just do a video call. Wanna chat with all your friends? Just do a zoom call. You see I was serious when I said that the smartphone has literally taken over our lives. Made it easier and also perhaps lazier. Well of course there are many many cons of this Digital boom but let’s keep that for another blog 😛😛
Well have you been driving at over 100kmph and suddenly spot an animal crossing the road and have to push the brakes with all your might? You are feeling The rush of adrenaline, the wind in you hair at one moment. And utter panic and shock at the very moment you have to push the brakes and stop. Well 2020 had something just like that in store for us. Well it wasn’t a cow crossing the road. But rather a tiny microscopic deadly being that just forced us to apply the brakes. Enterthe CORONAVIRUS.
And just like that, in a flash, our fast paced lives came to an abrupt halt. The world came to a standstill. The roads were empty. Planes were grounded. Shops were shut. Malls were closed. Thousands were stranded, unemployed. And millions were locked up at home indefinitely in fear of the deadly virus out on a killing spree. It took over our cities and the world at large.
I remember the first few weeks were tough. In this day and age always staying indoors is something none of us are habituated to. It’s like you take a lion used to roaming in the wild jungle and put him in a box. That’s exactly how I felt. And am sure I wasn’t alone. No more going out to party with friends, dining out with family on the weekend. No more mall hopping or going to the movies or even a drive. Travelling to far off places in your bucket list was suddenly an impossibility. It’s like we were grounded for life!!
We couldn’t go to office, so the office came to us. Most of us with jobs got laptops, desktops delivered to our doorsteps coz work must go on. You see, I want that salary slip at the end of the month so I gladly accepted it. Life became all about unlimited conference calls, screen sharing, video meetings and incessant phone calls (still not complaining). At the same time, house helps were off limits so had to do all household chores as well. How long is this gonna last I thought many times. How long do I have to keep doing this? The pandemic and the growing rate of infected patients gave me my answer. As long as we need to.
Humans have an incredible way of adapting and this I experienced first hand due to this pandemic. Just like we had very easily adapted to our jet set fast paced lives once upon a time, eventually in this lockdown we learnt to slow down as well. And not just that, I think it helped us (me definitely) be thankful for the little and smaller things in life. It made me thankful that I was getting to spend quality time at home with my aging parents, my husband. Cooking hot meals for my family and them going gaga about it made my day. We went back to playing boardgames. I had forgotten how much fun this used to be. And for the first time in years, I had some free time to indulge myself. So I picked up my old habit of reading. Of course now it was on kindle. Going out for parties now replaced by enjoying a glass of wine with the husband. Watching movies in the theatre now made way for all night Netflix marathons. Running behind cabs and buses made way for daily walks in the terrace. The hustle bustle of city life gave way to nature healing itself and the city becoming more cleaner and greener than I have ever seen before. The pollution decreasing and The air becoming more pure. And the one thing which we all loved before we were hit by this virus scare….going out…that’s become a nightmare really. Wear your mask, cover your face, cover your head, apply litres of sanitizer (not literally). Come back, change clothes, wash off, apply some more sanitizer. I’d rather stay indoors these days. Seriously.
This drastic change in our lifestyle has been hard to adjust to for most of us. But at the same time it has brought back glimpses of the simplicity of our childhood days..the good old 90s era. I had forgotten how much we enjoyed those days at home with loved ones. Now, although forcefully, we seem to have been transported to that time. But this time we have the internet with us. So it’s like the best of both worlds. We have the simplicity of the 90s coupled with the benefits of the digital age. Maybe that’s the optimistic in me thinking like that, to make these days count and be grateful for.
I know that Once the threat decreases with the availability of vaccines and medicines (and I sure do hope they come out soon coz so many people are suffering and dying)…we will again go back to our fast paced race of a life. But I hope we can remember the lessons learnt in these hard times and still retain a part of this experience as we go forward into the future.
Whether it’s jumping off a cliff or jumping out of a helicopter or jumping into an unexpected, unpredictable, unprecedented, life changing, mind boggling life event..they are all essentially the same things and involve the same flurry of emotions. Like what are the emotions one would associate with jumping? Anxiety, angst, panic, fear? I think it’s predominantly fear…fear of that precise moment of taking the plunge, fear of the fall, fear of the outcome and fear of the side effects if things go wrong. But unless we jump we don’t really know what’s waiting for us. Or how we will feel about it after it’s done. For me, the most daunting thought would be…’what if’….what if I liked it..what if it showed me new side of life? What if it gave new meaning to my life? what if it was an exhilarating experience that couldn’t be experienced in any other way? What if it changed my perspective of life or gave it a new direction? Or simply what if it gives me a sneak peek into my true potential or calling?…the what ifs are what makes the jumping worth every other emotions we may feel.
Let me recount an experience that can probably help me convey my point.
So last year before Corona took over our lives and made us homebodies, I was in Thailand on a much needed getaway. I was sitting on the beach drinking a beer, soaking in the beauty and tranquility of the blue waters, pristine white sand with the backdrop of the setting sun and the chilly wind. Picturesque. Suddenly I noticed some people were parasailing. Now I am NOT the adventurous junkie alway ready to try every bizarre adventure one can chance upon. I am someone always scared, always timid, riddled with health issues and quite an overweight person. The kind who roll their eyes while watching others pull off daring but totally unnecessary stunts all in the name of adventure and adrenaline rush (is that even a real thing I wonder).
But that day watching the parachute sailing against the sunset made me wonder. Should I try it? Almost immediately I was flooded with a whole barrage of what ifs…what if I lose my grip..what if the I fall right down into the middle of the ocean? What if the life jacket doesn’t work and I drown..like the Titanic (because I can’t swim to save my life.. literally)…on and on came all these thoughts that just made me oppose the idea as soon as I got it. But as if almost instinctively, there were another set of what ifs circling in my head. What if this is actually fun. What if the view from top is mind blowing? What if this is actually something memorable that I can look back at years from now and say..man I did it and it was truly awesome. What if by doing this I can actually prove to myself that I am not that averse to the idea of adventure and that adrenaline rush is a real thing.
My mind was at war it seems. To jump into it or not. I was torn. After all both sets of what ifs had equal merit and were worthy of being thought through. So unable to take a quick decision (like in most life situations I am faced with) , I just sat there staring into the sky..with my gaze fixed at the parachute flying high against the setting sun.
I guess the deciding ‘what if’ was…’what if I never get this opportunity ever again..I mean this has been in my bucket list for the longest time and here I was sitting. Closest chance of actually fulfilling this crazy wish… wouldn’t I look back at this very moment And wonder what It would have felt like’…so this thought or maybe the beer I gutted down…made me decide. I was gonna do it. I was gonna go for the jump.
My husband was zapped and literally speechless at this sudden burst of bravery and adventure that I was engulfed with. But I had decided, good or bad I was going in for it.
Got my harness in place, got my set of instructions of things to do and not to do. And within 15 minutes I was ready. Since I didn’t know swimming, they sent one of their guys up with me who would take care of the manoeuvring. All I had to do was run till a point until we start flying and then hold on to the rope to maintain position.
Simple enough. Right? Well not so much. Coming to that in a bit. I did run as asked and even before I realized I was high up in the sky…with the blue ocean down beneath me and the sun almost at eye level. The initial fright was something I cannot describe in words. It was gut wrenching, heart pounding excruciating fear. For a moment I couldn’t believe I actually went through with this crazy idea and put myself in this situation. I was almost paralyzed with fear. I thought I will never set foot on the beach again or see my husband or parents again. With My eyes closed shut, I was praying for some sort of a miracle (like maybe waking up to realize I was only dreaming) to undo this horrible thing I had done to myself. Stupid stupid girl.
But after some time, the parachute reached a certain height and became stable. That’s when I opened my eyes. Slowly. One at a time. And trust me, I will never forget what I saw. The panoramic view of the city, the lush greenery, the blue ocean down below, the many hues of the setting sun…all in a single frame. Oh so so beautiful. So mesmerising. The beauty of what I saw that day will remain etched in my heart forever. In that moment, I felt fearless, I felt invincible. I felt alive. Not for long though.
While I was gliding through the air soaking it all in, Down below , the motor boat to which the parachute is attached took a U-turn to head back towards the beach. It took me by surprise and due to the jolt, I lost my grip of the rope to which I was tied. Fear, paranoia all these things that just a few seconds ago I thought I had overcome, came right back as I lost my balance. But thankfully the trainer guy grabbed me by the waist. Gradually I regained balance and gripped the rope for dear life. And a few moments later I splashed into the water.
The joy of feeling the sand beneath me. It meant that I was back on land. The ride was over. And I was back to safety. I remember sitting in the water for a long time. Thinking about the experience I just had. The beauty I had seen. The many emotions I felt while pulling off the most heroic and adventurous thing I had ever attempted to do.
Yes I felt fear. Mind numbing, heart beat stopping fear. And yet there i was. Having done it. Actually going through with it. Taking the plunge. Ticking off at least one item from my bucket list. Giving myself one experience of a lifetime. For that I thanked myself. Gave myself a pat on the back. But most importantly, this whole experience left me with one profound realization: unless you overcome the fear holding you back and take that leap of faith, there’s no way of knowing the outcome. No way of knowing what you are going to experience. and how much more enriched you are going to be when come out of it.
So next time, whether its a bungee jump (another one in the bucket list) or another crucial life altering juncture of life, I will not be afraid to take that leap of faith.
Ps. For motivation I always look at this picture of myself up in the air.