Have you ever felt the need to justify what you did or, do or, will be doing?
That ‘need’ is the perpetual nemesis. It sticks like a gum under the shoe and refuses to go. It not only slows down one’s pace but saps one’s energy in ‘keeping up appearances’ (pun, very much intended)
And yet, we all fall for it. Maybe, the road that is traversed less is always tough to walk and that too, alone. Nothing adds spice to the serendipitous journey of self discovery as much as the misery of being misunderstood. It is like getting used to the pain of walking barefoot on a rough path with jagged edged stones. The beauty of it is the pain itself. It teaches the art of resilience and, develops some gumption, gumption to face Pandora and her box of chaos.
It is on this path, the ‘need to justify’ is replaced by the ‘need to move on’. The latter is most likely to be dissed but, it is perhaps the only need that must be heeded to.
And, I call that ***** pain of release ***** which eventually lifts a weight off your chest.
To feel naked and, be naked are two different things
Some days back, my son showed me a beautiful Caterpillar shedding it’s beautiful bluish skin paletted with many hues, on a YouTube video. Both of us have watched that video umpteen times. And yet, watching the aesthetic undressing of a Caterpillar that soon will spread out into a wrinkled winged beautiful multi coloured butterfly was a revelation. Every. Single. Time.
Maybe that is how BEING NAKED feels like. Liberated, Confident and absolutely amazing!
I think as human beings we express the word Naked as a taboo. ‘Naked’ is perceived literally. Like exposing parts of physical form that you want hidden. Well, that is just one aspect of the otherwise feeling – FEELING NAKED!
For example, a person weaves the most gorgeous poems out of the demons playing his or her mind and, he or she finds a group that relates to the symphony? Yes, the person feels NO SHAME in being mentally naked, stripped off all the camouflages that were merely forcing him or her to adapt to a monochrome world.
There is a certain flow of virility when such a connection happens and when, you know that accepting the unexplored, rendered weird and, the most bizzare aspect about yourself with heart and soul is actually just fine contrary to what the world feels blasphemous about…, you realize that BEING NAKED is not just a facet of your persona, but it is the real you destined to seek what your soul wants and not, what the world demands. **************
And then, there is the other example wherein, a person is aware of his or her demons and, he or she flaunts them with vile, where he or she will not be shamed for it but, will be feared for it. The person tries hard and often succeeds in keeping a clean and ‘holier than thou’ image leaving the demons locked in some secret chamber, never to be seen by the world. Remember the character of Conrado Sol from the Netflix series – El Chapo, played brilliantly by Humberto Busto? Yes. That.
However, one cannot fight fate all the time. Just like the fox that fooled the jungle with the blue dye ended up yelping on the day it should never have, the secret chamber chooses to unlock itself in the most inopportune moment. The mask of ‘flawless’ is ripped off and, the unseen dark emotions stemming from severe insecurities is unveiled. That is when the person undergoes the entire trauma of ‘FEELING NAKED’.
It is amusing how people who fear ‘FEELING NAKED’ often justify their bad behaviour saying that is how things get done and that, criticism of such acts is only natural.
Unfortunately, the said people are ignorant…sadly….for they know NOT how one can be successful and amazing even with a good heart and a kind tongue. One doesn’t have to be nasty to get things done or, prove themselves to the world.
I guess, FEELING NAKED is always scary and, BEING NAKED in one’s own space is most emboldening.
And, if I may add…the difference is not very obvious to the NAKED EYE!
Sometimes, introspection is important. For, one can concoct a million lies to hide the demons and yet History is testimony to the fact that Dorian Gray did meet his fate, eventually.
Yes, one just cannot run away from the truth. AND, Truth is always NAKED and Frightening if one has been fearing it all his life!
Because… Truth in short can either make a person ‘BE NAKED AND HAPPY’ or, can make him or her ‘FEEL NAKED AND ASHAMED’
This is something I wanted to write about and I never could. Today I saw a lady’s post in a group and, I felt good. The topic was body shaming, a subject I had chosen not to write about only because many people were already writing a lot about it. The other reason I never wrote about it is because the people who matter to me accept me for what I am and have no complaints whatsoever. If any, they would rather complain about me skipping a meal which again is rare as I love eating.
However, what I read today brought back some very unpleasant memories which I now realize, are not just mine to rant about. There was this extended family member who on the day of my marriage chided me saying that I was plump and hence looked elder to the husband who by the virtue of his genes and profession is slim. What that comment did to my morale that day is something I could never shake off. It hurt then. I also broke down (what appeared to people for no apparent reason). However, my mum and my husband knew. Mum felt I was just overwhelmed with the attention and perhaps I am giving too much attention to something so trivial. While the husband reminded me why I caught his attention in the first place. ❤❤
I was also annoyed with self that I was paying attention to that singular horrible comment while a hundred compliments on how I looked the best on my wedding day slided by. I guess I had my own insecurities about my weight.
Somewhere that comment marred my persona and, I don’t blame the woman who did it. She herself was a victim of her own insatiable insecurities that never flew from her caged mind. However, I underwent a sea of change post that incident. And then, post pregnancy, my insecurities hit a new low. If post partum phase was not enough, my son as a newborn took time to bond with me. A very primal rage engulfed me when I saw the son just a few days old sleeping peacefully on the husband’s lap while he cried incessantly with me. And, the ‘weighty issues’ returned with a greater ferocity. While I had gained 10 kgs during the course of my difficult pregnancy, I gained 5 more post delivery. So, i had enough handles to make me look like a bloated cow. My mother would often tell me then- “A new born may not see and hear clearly. But, a new born is highly perceptive. He is sensing your energies and he is affected that you are affected. You have to fight your insecurities. And, you are a beautiful woman. Don’t let anything or anyone tell you otherwise.”
During that phase, i had put on an insane amount of weight enough to let people tell me how fat I had become and that I must lose weight. It was terrible. A few friends mentioned that nursing the baby increases hunger and maybe that is why I am putting on weight. I believed it even as my mum would often tell me that it was my lack of self appreciation that was driving me into paranoia. And then, 2013 arrived…..
Lessons learned without pain are seldom learned or remembered. It took me 2013 to rediscover my lost self esteem and self. While I have had the angriest exchanges with the Universe for putting me through that nightmare of a year when I was hanging by a thread, begging the Universe to give me a second lease of life, I also realized it was perhaps the Universe’s way of telling me that I had to start loving myself for who I am. Fitness will follow suit much later.
I came out scarred with a slight squint in my left eye (not quite discernable) and many kilos lighter (because i hadn’t eaten solid food for 30 days). Again, I gained weight quickly. I took long and vigorous walks and yet, I wouldn’t lose weight. 2 years post the condition, the panic attacks returned when I lost my grandmother and my maternal uncle within a gap of 5 months. I gained weight due to stress which led me to binge on unhealthy snacks. And yet again, my spirit guides sighed as they looked at the chaotic progeny and, 2018 came and gently bumped me on my head and reminded me whose daughter I am.
For the unitiated, my mother is one of those rare humans who challenged doctors and medical science on 2 occassions wherein the doctors had passed the judgement:
1. She will never walk normally again because her left leg had suffered a paralysis, an outcome of a brief coma.
2. She would never conceive.
A week post that verdict somehwere in the timeline of ’74 to ’84, she walked and walked until the left leg came with a life of its own and she could run! And I was born after 10 years of my parents’ marriage, with the curls of my mum and the face of my dad!
There is a joke that one of the family friends would often repeat…”If aunty wanted to move Mt Everest, the mountain will oblige!” I have heard countless stories of her strong will power and determination but I saw it upclose when I was hospitalised with no sense of what was happening around me then and how she would constantly chant Vishnu Sahasranam and Hanuman Chalisa through out the day. It was her persistent praying to the Universe and, the Universe obliged. Her prayers were answered. I emerged a different person who took herself seriously and learned to prioritise herself first.
Cut back to present, I am still an overweight female. BUT, i am in love with myself today. Like my mum would often tell me that I had a certain body type which I have inherited from my paternal granny who was a Rockstar! Despite battling many health issues, my granny touched 90 after having seen 14 grand children and 7 great grand children. Well, my grandfather needed her in heaven and hence called her before the century had plans for her.
So what I was being told is I must stop worrying about weight and rather do something to keep it in check.
I have heeded to this advice and have stopped checking my weight but have been working consciously towards keeping it in check. I have made sure I don’t put on more that I already am. And second, I get up each day and give myself the pep talk before getting up from bed – “You must infect the world with your energy”
Now, I credit two other women who helped me see the beauty in being who we are and embracing ourselves with absolute pride and dignity.
One is Rytasha Rathore. I love this woman. I just love her. She flaunts her love handles in her bikini and she looks utterly gorgeous. I love her spontaneity and her openess towards loving out own body more than the idea of beautifying it with accessories and apparels. If you don’t know who I am talking about, this was Masaba’s best friend in the movie- #MasabaMasaba.
The second one is an Instangrammer – Yugina Sudan. Her posts are a fresh breath of air. Her love for food, her love for herself and her love for teaching marks her unique. Her posts inspire women to love themselves for who they are and that, a slim and slender physique is hardly a universal definition. You could be plump and yet you could be healthier than many others who subject their bodies to a plethora of diets to keep the handles away. It is her passion to cook with the best ingredients and her courage to be herself and to wear what the body loves, is something I wish to imbibe someday.
Though I have learned to take ascerbic comments with a pinch of salt, i realized after seeing one particular post in #SareeSpeak on FaceBook that many women may have had it worse.
For I have parents and in-laws, my husband and my son who love me exactly for who I am. Yet, I went through a rollercoaster ride of battling insecurities that stemmed from being body shamed by acquaintances and extended family members. The lesson to take away is – “You can have all the pep talk you want in this world. Google is an agony aunt. And TedEx is like that virtual best friend who keeps talking and telling you exactly what you want to hear. But, they are temporary solutions. For, the real pep talk must come from WITHIN.”
There are no two ways about it. You and you alone hold the power to turn comments into compliments, insecurities into talents and, reactions into calculated responses.
I am not there yet as far as my fitness is concerned. I have a long way to go. I will be there, someday. One day, at a time, right?
Love yourself, woman! Love your weirdness.
Begin there. Everything else falls in place thereafter.
Life is a sine curve. Strangely, the crests and troughs are not as literal as they are perceived…. with crests defining success or troughs, the failures.
Perhaps, metaphorical? It is like having two bowls in each hand, one with the delectable gulabjamun and the other with bitter gourd (i choose this one as I am not quite fond of it unless it is prepared by my mum) and, you are forced to consume both regardless of the order you choose to consume them.
It is not quite a great situation to be in. It is as though your happiness of letting the sweet Indian croquembouche on your palate being subtly pulled back from doing a victory dance because the experience of consuming the bitter gourd has much more to teach.
For some reason, I remembered today an incident that happened 2 years back. The incident is inconsequential here. But, suffices to say – I wasn’t in a good head space then and doodling happened as a path to steer me away from becoming a bitter gourd myself. However, the incident definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth. And, I haven’t been able to forget the taste since….closures are slow. I will find when it is ready, perhaps.
And, something happened today. And, it was a stark opposite of what happened 2 years ago. It happened when I wasn’t particularly looking for anything good anywhere. And yet, it happened. What happened today made me smile. It reinstated my faith in people. It feels good to be understood. To just let be. If you find people who let you be the way you are, they are keepers.
So, 2020 began on a different note. It brought me the best connections through the soul depressing lockdown.
Using best and depressing in the same sentence is what defines this sine curve for me.
The last three years were like a spectrum of many shades of vibes and words. The December of 2017 began with utter disillusionment which continued steadily till December 2019. People can make 24 months seem like 96 months too! That is how it felt.
The months within perhaps hardened me a tad too much, but for good. If I had to point out one silver lining, it reiterated the importance of keeping hope and faith alive even when you find yourself – an inconsolable misfit in a crowd of exaggerates masks.
Coming back to sine curves, it doesn’t matter whether you are riding on the crest or swaying on the troughs. Because wherever your destiny places you strategically, it makes you choose. And, you choose knowing fully that you could always choose better.
Talking about crests and troughs, there is this strange thing about the sine curve. Like, who is to say – which is the crest? And, which is the trough?
The husband on seeing my new purchase in Amazon orders was visibly miffed.
“Why do you stock your stationery as if the world is going to end tomorrow? I can understand if you do that with food or clothes. But seriously, stationery?”
That said, he made me promise a few years back to stay away from his set of Steadlters. No amount of pleading/cajoling and coaxing moved him. He still keeps it in a place where I can find only to check if I can keep up my word of not touching it let alone using it. Anyways, the husband is not the only one who cringes every time I buy pens even when I don’t need them.
My father religiously gives me an earful even now despite knowing that his words ought to fall on deaf ears. He even goes a step further and, chains his pens to his desk and refuses to lend me pens when visiting banks (I have had some embarrassing episodes in banks which are better left unsaid). So, my dad is convinced I am a pen thief. My mother thankfully gives in to my pestering and lends me her pens knowing well that they won’t return 🙈🙈🙈
I am not sure at what age my fascination for stationery began but, I have had a strong fetish them since my 4th grade when the concept of pens was introduced. I also loved fresh new copies of plain pages which I would love to begin writing on, with neatness and finesse. If I may gloat, I was good at making notes and, believe I still am.
Besides that, I had a strong and intense bond with ink pens for a brief 5 year period starting from 5th grade. Later, I moved to pilot pens (given my laziness for refilling ink pens – a task which had me quite intrigued in the beginning but, the interest fizzed out soon). I still use pilot pens a lot though. But yes, even today a stationery shop would be precisely what Hamleys is to my son. A man made wonderland.. Except, I don’t buy anything from the latter one but, I am capable of making a huge hole in my pocket even in a non descript stationery shop.
I realize now, it has become an addiction just the way people splurge on clothes and other accessories. I have had some addictions earlier which have left me for good. However, this addiction is something that I plan to cling to with the blessings of the Universe.
For, there is always a child like joy when new pens dance in your fingers and, a brand new book awaits to be ornamented.
While I recall the precise moment when I had randomly began doodling with a pencil because my state or mind was low with the husband in some non descript location, with my father in another corner of the country undergoing a complicated surgery and with my son down with measles and a very high fever…and with not enough warm vibes around to tell that everything will eventually fall in place….,I now realize we all find the support within first and, not outside. That moment at that point in time felt terrible. It filled me with anger and despair then.
But like they say, if you just go with the flow without questioning the Universe over things you have no control on, many things fall in place by themselves and, exactly when and how you would have wanted them. It is just the time that wears one out, which again is a truth we all must live with no matter how uncomfortable it makes us while we ride through the rough patches.
Every single day when I begin with my pens, I somehow drift to that moment where it all began. Maybe, it is a sign that reminds me that beginnings must be remembered, big or small. And, where you begin your journey from sets momentum for where you will be reaching when you find your purpose. May art reign supreme always! Blessed be.
Almost 15 years back, I thought compliments were the best thing in life. Nope. I am not talking about birthday and anniversary wishes or, ‘with best compliments’.
I am talking about – ‘How good/beautiful/smart/sharp…’ kind of compliments. Well, 15 years back, I was a different person too. And now, a decade and past a few years of sprouting greys on the head, I feel it was criticism that got me to earn compliments I never expected would come my way. Criticism again could be constructive or destructive and, I am not going there as that is now what I want to dissect today.
They arrive as colourful vibrant butterflies that seem to flutter on your shoulders. You want to keep them, treasure them and, enjoy watching them build your mojo, or so it seems.
You feel good about yourself……quite good about yourself until…..
……Until..until….the mirage decimates and, you don’t.
For me, the fascination died about 7 years back when I heard someone use the word – asset for people. Repeatedly.
Before you judge me a snob, let me make myself clear here – Asset is not a bad word. There is no reason to be offended by its usage. However, the trouble begins when the word asset begins to affect the actual ‘asset’ in a not so good manner.
The one thing I have observed over years of people is, no one individually cares about assets that are dispensible. People care more about what the assets can give them as gains. Once the purpose is fulfilled, they reevaluate assets to see if the same performance can continue for an indefinite time.
I feel if assets were strictly pertaining to non living forms, we all think on same lines. A refrigerator, a car, an oven, a bike….everything has a shelf life and even they respond affirmatively for a long time when treated good.
However, with humans it is a different game altogether. It is like diving into a sea of many permutations and combinations that will always leave you surprised, either pleasantly or otherwise.
Say we have 4 scenarios…
1. You say a not-so-good thing about an employee to another employer in a ‘word of mouth’, and things go south for the employee culling all possibilities of an employee turning around.
2. Or, you say a not-so-good thing about an employee to another employer, the second employer decides to trust his own judgement over word of mouth. And, things look better for both until the word of mouth proves the judgement wrong.
3. Or, you give a thumping feedback about an employee to an employer and, everything falls in place for everyone. Lucky blokes!
4. Or, the worse case scenario where in a good feedback about an employee makes the new employer think, “what if the talent was oversold?’ And, despite having a good employee in hand, the employer takes off on an ego driven trip to just prove the word of mouth wrong, which inevitably shuts down everything good for an organization by flattening the motivation of a driven employee and, taking the employer down because some misguided ego took precedence over the very purpose of having hired the ‘asset’ in the first place.
I have witnessed the last one up close, a lot. And, I kid you not, compliments have done more damage in such scenarios than criticism which if taken in the right stride makes a gem out of a person either which way.
I am a firm believer in the age old adage – Actions speak louder than words. Always.
I am old school about many things and, this is one of them.
And, it is this that makes me averse to compliments that will surely have ramifications scarring people if unnoticed..
Again, before you judge me a critic who has to opine on something all the time, I am not against compliments. Compliments do wonders all the time and, I will come to that part. What I deeply resent is, a compliment that camouflages agendas.
So, when you use compliments with an agenda of recommending people for their hard work, intuitive abilities and, character, you dont realize you are playing a role in their destiny and worse, you have no idea about how that destiny based on your mere words might unfold for someone who is new to an environment that shall first play hostile.
Word of mouth about people looking out for better opportunities may not work fool proof for all. Besides, it clouds an employer’s judgement and, instead of taking his own time to evaluate, he ends up making a hasty judgement if he doesn’t carry the intensely intuitive art of observing with silence.
Now, where do compliments work best?
1. For children who take their first leap over hurdles like lack of confidence, fear of stage and, lack of comprehension.
2. For 12th graders who take their first flight in search of their purpose and, end up figuring out the starting point their hearts peg them on, a point which may elicit ‘sighs’ first and ‘awes’ later..
3. For employees who work silently and diligently without seeking an approval or a need to prove to the world and, who value team before self in a work environment.
The above mentioned are the primary ones who deserve compliments to bring out the best from better.
Rest of the world can do with or, without timely compliments as rare are the ones who chase purpose of life more than distractions that play on the sidelines as fluttering butterflies which never plan on sticking around!
Irony of life – many people don’t even realize the damage done to people they recommend without evaluating whether the people they are recommending to, even deserve good candidates in the first place.
Sometimes, keeping quiet does more good to the ‘assets’ you sell out to people who make sure that ‘assets’ are dispensible.
A couple of years back, I was quite ruthlessly thrown by the Universe among people from whom I learned how NOT to be. After all, Life doesn’t give you a bed of roses without making you feel the pricking thorns on your body that bleed you dry until the truth dawns on you that, it is you and you alone who can protect self from energies that pull you down.
Yes, I look back and wonder at the flux of emotions that overwhelmed me to an extent wherein, I had devised umpteen impossible scenarios in my head only to realize later that reality is always miles away from an imagination gone awry. Situations have happened wherein I would be ready with my ammo and, be all set to open fire only to realize the situation had diffused on its own only because I stayed silent when the moments demanded it.
DO I have any regrets of not having reacted in situations that would have gotten worse with my words/reactions?
An older version of myself would nod the head in affirmative.
2 years later, 2020 was an epiphany of sorts. All the people and situations that disappointed me a couple of years back now seem quite trivial as compared to a man made disease that simply refuses to die!
And, that brings me to the crux of my post – Expectations!
How we expect before we act. How we expect before we think.
I believe as humans, we are programmed to expect first and, think/act later. Say, someone just brushes past us while walking or standing (let’s not get into whether the act was accidental or not), the first response that comes naturally to most of us is to feel unsettled/annoyed/irritated. It immediately wires our brain to expect that the said person must apologize, or at least explain himself or herself. This situation could also apply to a toddler accidentally spilling some hot milk on your lap while you were engrossed in reading a book by your favourite author.
ANGER- One of the easiest and the most natural emotions of all. It takes a lot to restrain oneself from expressing anger than to gulp the emotion down and, take deep breaths until the emotion passes away. Anger has a lot to do with expectations that we build with every black strand on the head turning grey.
Perhaps, it is because most of our actions stem from our expectations for at least 99 percent of the time.
It is quite rare when we can act without expecting and letting, situations and destiny manifest naturally. It takes a different level of courage to let that happen because at that level, a man fears nothing.
Well, how many times have you let go off expectations completely?
Does that mean we must NOT expect at all? Does that mean, we must NOT set our expectations too high? Does that mean we must accept what comes our way WITHOUT expecting?
I do not fit anywhere in the answers for any of the above mentioned questions, if I may add – consistently.
But, that doesn’t mean I never had expectations?
I think I expect a lot from my family. I turn into a Cruella DeVil when the son doesn’t finish his milk on time, or refuses to sit through his online classes to complete his class work. I also get quite mad at the husband when he displaces stuff at home. I kick myself often for forgetting to check on mutual funds and deposits regularly, a reminder that my father and husband continue to throw at me every time to check if I am on the same page as them regarding the finances (and, I quite successfully forget every single time much to the chagrin of the men who adore me)
We are all slaves of the expectations we set for ourselves and for the ones we love. We even set them for people who are not a part of family but, are indespensible to us – like maids, doctors, vendors et al..
That said, as much as I detest expectations, I feel they are imperative in personal growth. If you do not set a benchmark for yourself, you cannot visualize goals that are mere silhouettes in your head. For personal growth, one must have expectations. One must be resilient as a spider and, as hardworking as an ant to meet the them within a deadline. However, there is a thin line of difference between expectations one sets for oneself and, the ones the world set for self. The whole journey of life is about discerning the difference.
Until then, we shall all continue to succumb to dejections that rise from failure of meeting the very expectations we set without knowing fully whether they are our own or, the ones that we allowed the world to design for us.
And, this is exactly where the elephant in the room looks squarely at us and, asks –
How many…..and how high??
That leaves some fodder for another post, another day : Will expectations and happiness have a happy marriage, ever?