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Six things that I’ve learnt in the last six years


The main reason for writing this post is that it has become a popular format and I didn’t want to be left behind. Ideally it should have been ‘twenty two things that I’ve learnt at twenty two’ but one look at me and you’ll know that I can’t dish out those many life lessons. Here are a few things that I have learnt over the last few years. I hope something strikes a chord.

1. Self-depreciation doesn’t help – Of course it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself but you need to draw a line. It shouldn’t become an addiction and a pitiable one at that. Self-effacing humour runs the risk of becoming self-sabotaging behaviour. Practice acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. This one has been really hard for me and thus tops my list.

2. Most people have a horrible memory Do you know what people forget the fastest? Faster than the money they loaned from you? Yes, expressing gratitude and reciprocating in your hour of need. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t help people but you should do it with zero expectations so that you’re not hurt in the bargain. It’s not that giving has no benefits: it builds character, it increases your satisfaction and you do come across a few nice people who might reciprocate. But to reiterate my point, people develop amnesia after you turn your world upside down in order to help them.

3. The world is biased against introverts- I see this as more of a fact than an opinion. Our society is biased in favour of people who jabber. They are considered friendly and amiable unless of course they are just loud, obnoxious and garrulous. If you’re an introvert, people will take longer to like you and understand you. You’ll be branded as either arrogant or boring, you’ll face difficulty during group discussions and then there are always points for class participation. People often ask me if it hurts to be labelled as arrogant. Well I’m used to it by now, so I don’t curl up and cry, but it’s never pleasant to be misunderstood. All this taken into consideration I would never want to change this aspect of my personality.

4. Make a few friends and a lot of acquaintances – Yes, this might sound weird on the face of it but think about it. Friends are people who walk with you till the gates of hell and for whom you’re always willing to stick your neck out. There can’t be a lot of people who you feel that way about. Labelling everyone as your friend puts undue pressure on you and is never helpful. No, the girl you met a month back is not your best buddy. I don’t understand people who become best friends over summer vacations. At the same time having a wide network of acquaintances helps.  It means interacting with fascinating people with varied interests, more information, growth and learning.

5. Don’t obsess about the success of others – Healthy competition is okay and who will you compare yourself with if not your peer group. But there are people like me who irrespective of how well they’ve done, will instantly feel insecure when they hear about how everyone’s working, has found the love of their life, are travelling, pursuing their dream course….it’s not that you’re not happy for them, but you obsess about how you’ve not done a single constructive thing in life. If you do this you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about. This needs to stop. This habit will ensure that you’re never happy.

6. Good looks help – Shallow as this sounds it’s true. Sorry we don’t live in a utopian world. I’m all for inner beauty but being beautiful in the conventional sense of the word helps. In fact I don’t think it’s that unfair at all. It’s partially inherited like all other things we judge people for, be it intelligence or talent. I’m not saying that you have to resemble a Victoria Secret model, follow all fashion trends or starve yourself. Just start with keeping your weight within the normal BMI limit, take a bath every day, wear what brings joy to you, iron your clothes and comb your hair. In one word: grooming.

 

 

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Random Stuff


I haven’t really been writing that much these days partly because I didn’t have much to say. I feel the fact itself has been stressful for me because I thought I had lost the one thing I truly love- Writing . My journal has been a great savior in such testing times and has saved me from one of the worst writer’s block. Now, I’m no writer but I just wanted to give it a fancy name.

Using the phrase ‘Life has taken a 360 ‘ degree turn ‘ would be a bit much but a lot has changed in the past two to three weeks. Most of it has been in terms of how I view things. Finally I don’t feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t totally broken about a friendship going sour. Really, I’ve been miserable about the fact that I wasn’t miserable. The realization that college was getting over finally hit me and left me a little depressed. What is more upsetting is that I don’t know where I will be in the next few months. Alongside all this I got the news that my brother is coming back which in a sense covered up for everything else. Except for the fact that I don’t know if I would be in Delhi now.

This is how it all started, but by the end of it I feel better equipped with dealing with the entire leaving college bit (of course I’ll still cry over it a couple of times). In most part, I think this is because I feel everyone is dispensable and replaceable. No matter how close you’re to a particular person once they’re not there you’re just as happy without them. Personally I think as long as everyone else finds friends or are together they wouldn’t even notice my absence. Maybe this is healthy because it helps in adjustment. How is it going to help you if you keep brooding over someone not being there with you? Nonetheless it trivializes relationships. I have mixed feelings about this one. Also, I don’t think I’d rather die than face the impending change anymore. It’s not that I’m more optimistic about my admission prospects. For all you know I’ll have absolutely no place to go to, but I’ll use that time constructively as well. No matter what lies ahead I’ll come around to it, I guess.

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Sapna


She gets up in the morning confident and fresh. Gets ready to begin a new day with exuberance and energy. Another beginning without any fear of the future or lurking regrets of the past. She takes confident strides with arms stretched open. Well of course, in a way she owned the world. Everyone she met was in awe of her ability and conviction, and there was Sapna talking to them with ease.

Even before she settles down in class she’s saddled with responsibility. The teachers knew she’d manage with her social and assertive nature. She sits down with her friends helping them with the subject that comes most naturally to her-Maths. At the same time she makes a mental decision of dating the guy she loved. She wasn’t afraid of love, and more importantly of giving relationships a chance.

She is a happy and sorted person. There is neither a conflict nor complexity to cause turmoil. There is nothing complicated about Sapna. Nothing to rob her of her peace. She comes back relaxed to her family unlike many others who put up a face and later cry themselves to bed.

Just another routine day in Sapna’s life.

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Emotions Sans Classification


I’ve grown quite sick of  emotions being demarcated for me and of being told why I should or should not feel a certain way. I’m presenting a case against this kind of demarcation in this post.

Emotion is Energy-in-Motion. It is a way of expressing oneself in life. It is the quality of how one relates to life. Yet there is a good-bad attribute attached to it. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the word ‘hate’ so often. Then there are these  (sweet 🙂 ) friends who would with great difficulty use the work ‘dislike’, but hate- that’s too harsh a word. There is more to it, for instance- you’ll be made to believe that feeling guilty, angry, jealous and afraid isn’t right. This brings me to the polarization of emotions into negative and positive. Negative emotions are, for example: apathy, grief, fear, hatred, shame, blame, regret, resentment, anger, hostility, etc. Positive emotions are, for example: interest, enthusiasm, laughter, empathy, action, curiosity, etc.

This kind of divide made me wonder what exactly is the basis for classifying an emotion as negative or positive. I made an attempt to understand the meaning of positive emotions and negative emotions. After a great amount of deliberation I came up with a description I would like to stick with. Negative emotions express an attempt or intention to exclude. Keeping bad stuff away, destroying what is perceived as a threat. Negative emotions are fueled by an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of the actions of others, and a need to control them or stop them, or to avoid being harmed. Positive emotions express an attempt or an intention to include. Taking the whole into consideration. Working on learning more viewpoints, interacting more with others, enjoying making things better. Positive emotions are fueled by an underlying desire for enjoyment and unity.

Keeping this description in mind we could say that some emotions are more positive or negative than others. But it isn’t necessarily practical to place them on a linear scale, since each one is a composite of various elements. Also, any emotion could fall in either category depending on how it’s used. Destructive emotions refer to an emotion that leads us to do something that harms ourselves or someone else. Almost any emotion can become destructive. Even too much happiness, if it’s manic excitement, can lead us to do destructive things. Anger over our shortfalls can lead us to setting goals and taking steps to change behavior and better ourselves. Anger against injustice seems to be an appropriate emotion. The list goes on and on where anger can be a useful emotion in our lives. On the flip side, if anger becomes a catalyst for destructive behaviors that result in violence or abuse to ourselves and others, than it is a misuse of the emotion. Jealousy and revenge could be great motivators. I was always extremely competitive. I think this kind of achievement orientation has only lead me to strive for success and perfection. It hasn’t ever led me to harm anyone or prevent me from helping others or sharing knowledge. Hence I consider competitiveness(how I use it) to be very positive.  But I’ve seen the same to become destructive and sour friendships.

 The complexity doesn’t end here. Some emotions camouflage as positive or negative, but really are the opposite of what they pretend. There is a type of pity which appears as genuine concern for others, but which is rather taking comfort in that somebody else is worse off than you. There is a covert hostility that masks as friendliness. There is love which is selfish and destructive going against the very grain and definition of love.

Even if an emotion can be easily classified as negative,are negative emotions  just something to get rid of ? It is not that simple. They serve important functions. They become a motivation to learn and deal with life’s complexities,hence prove very useful. If one is always  happy or joyful, it is a subtle indication of the incapability of perceiving negative undercurrents which are as much a part of our world.

Positive and negative emotions aren’t polarities. We can’t get rid of one and just keep the other. Ultimately they need to be and are integrated. They desist to exist in isolation. One can’t be perceived without being exposed to the nuance of the other. They don’t run a parallel course, are rather enmeshed. Also, since a negative emotion can be adaptive and a positive emotion destructive it might be wrong to even use this nomenclature.

Personally, I see no sense in this divide in emotions. We’re entitled to experiencing the entire range of myriad human emotions.

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Second Chances


Recently I accepted a friend request from a guy I knew in school. We never spoke to each other so it wouldn’t be appropriate to say we weren’t in touch anymore. Lets just say that the last time we sat in proximity of eachother (due to being in the same class ) was in grade ninth. Today I’m almost a graduate (another few months, hopefully). I have a strict policy of adding very few people on Facebook, yet I added him. Largely my decision was driven by intrigue. No, there is nothing romantic about what is going to follow from here.

I was inquisitive because he always seemed a little weird. He was simultaneously strange and brilliant. I was baffled by how he’s good at every subject. It was as if he had a natural aptitude for myriad, varied and absolutely different disciplines. He was as good at History as he was at Maths or Hindi for that matter. He was unbelievably energetic and restless. What he lacked was interpersonal skills (maybe more than that). His intelligence was forgotten or overshadowed by his absurd behavior. He couldn’t communicate properly. He hardly had friends and his speech rate was so fast that it rendered what he was saying incomprehensible. Make no mistake, he is not that shy and left out kid one sympathizes with. I would use my words more carefully now, but at that time he seemed like a highly functioning sociopath. He was mean, rude and unconcerned about what he said to both classmates and teachers. He seemed to be amoral and was absolutely apathetic towards norms of any kind. He also seemed to have impulse control problems.

Do you see something strange here? No, not about the person. About the rendering of the piece. I began with telling you how little I know him and I’ve followed that with a detailed (mostly disturbing) description about him. I’ve probably filled in blanks to my observations (since I’ve never interacted with the person I’ve methodically described).

Voyeurism took over me and I began stalking this rather different person. He seemed quite ‘normal’ even cool for that matter. I didn’t take into consideration that I barely knew him before I labelled him. I didn’t even think that even if he was like that he could’ve changed over so many years.

It made me wonder what people who know me from that age and have never interacted with me since would’ve labelled me as. Shy? Boring? (I mean I could be fun you never talked to me, right? ), socially awkward? Clumsy? Devoid of any personal charm… (Seems unfair 😦  )

Question your labels. Give people a SECOND CHANCE. Yes, all this stemmed from accepting a friend request. Yes, I do think a lot about everything.

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Here Is Why You Wouldn’t Want To Be In My Head


I’ve attempted to approximate what goes on in my head on a regular day so that you clearly understand why you wouldn’t want to be in my place. Here goes:

I can’t believe it’s time to get up already. I can’t get out of the quilt right now. I just can’t. I’ll just get up in five minutes. I mean it’s not like I can’t get ready if I have five minutes less. No, seriously I wouldn’t miss the first class if I had five minutes less, right? Oh! five minutes are already over. Okay fine out we go because I need to take a bath. There are people who don’t take a bath in the morning, disgusting. I’d tolerate that, but what about those who don’t take a bath atleast once everyday? Yuck! I’m okay with criminals, murderers, thieves and junkies, but these people, they don’t deserve to live. Must switch off the reminders. I can’t stand the red light they flash. Why do I put reminders when I always remember stuff and just end up removing the reminder before time? But then putting them ensures that you don’t worry at night about not remembering stuff. Why do I need to drink milk in the morning? Who am I? A growing ten year old?

Now, hopefully I’ll get an auto without bumping into anyone I know. There is nothing that spoils a day like running into people. Oh no there she comes. Looking foolish and pretending not to see her or just greeting her. Decisions decisions. Okay get into the auto and just pretend that I was too preoccupied. This South Ext flyover always has a traffic jam. Like always. Someday I’ll get late because of that. That’s horrible. Imagine the humiliation involved in walking in a class when everyone is already seated and the attendance has been taken. Also, it is irresponsible and disrespectful. There is a pattern here, you know? You let these people in and you’re responsible for promoting a culture of unreliable, lazy and worthless people.

This auto guy would stand next to cars and bikes with weird people, no kidding. Why would they roll their window down all of a sudden? I hope we go before this long red light. We can make it yes, yes.. shucks! I’ll take the money out so that I can just get off instantaneously without the guard telling us not to park the auto infront of the gate. That’s just embarrassing. People turn around and look at you as if you’re making out in public.

Time to sit in the class and pretend to enjoy theater because that’s what this class is like. Why do such people manage to get good jobs? Why do we let substandard education thrive and continue? Man, she could come up with a behaviour modification module aimed at discouraging and demotivating people. “AND NOW YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE, YES YEEEEES…” This woman could intimidate anyone with her OVER-enthusiasm.

Woah! who wears knee length boots here. That doesn’t make sense unless you have to walk on the cobbled roads of London. These people need to clear the way. How am I supposed to buy coffee if they swarm around Nescafe like this? I’ll get late for class, like LATE besides I might have to talk to someone random. I mean what if a friend’s friend hugs me.  Ughhhhhhh over-friendly people are over-friendly. Oh! crap now I’m supposed to stop after every two minutes because these people will meet someone or the other. Why do I make friends with overly social people?  Don’t their jaws ache because of saying hi so many times.

Now you see these teachers in corridors -that’s like a trap. You don’t wish them would mean you lack manners and if you do and they don’t reply you seem dumb. Maybe they do reply and don’t reply in this variable ratio schedule purposely for sadistic pleasure, who knows? Look at how pretty that girl is. Perfect faces appall me. That just sounds like those jealous, weird and paranoid women who feel insecure of any pretty/hot/charming girl. Maybe this does stem out of my insecurities, weird. Gosh! She always seemed like she had issues with her looks. One more time she asks a question I’ll smash her face with a baseball bat and change it for her.

Now here are some people who came for my study. They’d hate me for life for putting them through that. Should I say hi-nah, forget it. If I don’t get an auto in the next two minutes I’ll cross the road. I hate looking lost. I mean what would people waiting on the bus stop think about me. This auto guy has a mustache like a durbaan. He can’t possibly be decent. Good! we’re almost home. All I have to do is get home without bumping into anyone. That icecream stall guy is staring at me trying to create an obligation to buy icecream. Beggars do that to you too. They induce guilt. You pay them it mean you’re encouraging people to not work and if you don’t you’re dead within. I mean, why do people target me like that?

Why does he hang out of his balcony all the time? I hope he just falls. Does he do it on purpose because he knows I hate small talk. Fuck! NO no no…not a dog sitting on the stairs. I HATE animals and I HATE animal lovers. I’m going to complete the six rounds of the evening walk today. People I know are coming. Just smile and pass…just smile and pass. More people I know. If I just turn around and head home no one will notice. What if I’m unable to complete my project and get a zero? Did I put money in my bag? Imagine reaching college without money and having to borrow. Put a reminder for after 25 minutes of my getting up alarm That’s perfect. Must put a reminder to take the laptop. I’ll put in the laptop bag to save time in the morning. Monday and Friday means second class but I should check once more. Who’ll get out of the quilt now? I’ll put a reminder for that. My head hurts by the end of the day without fail. I wonder why…

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The Complicated and Complex Skill of Complimenting


Compliments play an essential role in human interaction. Not only do they demonstrate our interest in others, but they are also a way to win friends or form allegiances, to gain affection and influence. Compliments are an expression of praise, respect, or approval. A genuine and powerful compliment is one of the best gifts we can give another human being. Think of some of the great compliments you have received in your life…they stick out in your mind and resonate deep within your heart, don’t they? Compliments play an important role in relationships, at the work place and in one’s social life. At the same time it’s a fairly complicated task.  It might sound strange, but giving compliments can be more difficult than it sounds.
The one tip that I can give you to perfect this rather difficult skill is that – Any form of acknowledgment that you give has to be real, honest, and genuine if  you expect it to have any power or impact on the other person. Here are a list of reasons explaining the importance of being absolutely honest with your praise:
  • Place a value on your praise – The power of a compliment to cheer up someone is huge but that will only be possible if you’re not a compulsive sweet talker. Nobody cherishes appreciation from a person who has a reputation of showering everyone with the the same. Be someone whose respect and praise is desired and difficult to obtain. So that when you use this powerful tool it actually works to boost self esteem. Also words like beautiful, intelligent, creative… are precious words don’t give them away so easily. Who you appreciate and for what says more about you than them. You must place a value on your praise.
  • Honesty is a commitment to a value not just the person- Being honest is the right thing to do always. You can never justify giving an undeserved compliment on grounds of it helping your friend. It doesn’t in the long run. It is never okay. There are too many insincere compliments thrown around on a daily basis. Your insincerity will often shine through. Platitudes are more than worthless. Just saying something complimentary to pacify someone is easily detected and most people are put off by something so shallow.
  • Nobody wants ‘charity compliments’- If you go around sprinkling compliments out of pity then you’re the worst kind of person. Step down from the pedestal on which you’ve placed yourself. No, it’s not sweet to appreciate someone because you feel they ‘need’ it. You’re here to uplift the morale of the less deserving mortals?  Narcissistic fool.
  • Most people can make out the difference between artificial and natural sweeteners- Credit the other person with some sense. Most of the people can figure out that the lavish praise is exaggerated and/or undeserved. The flattery usually does nothing but irritate others. It’ll make the other person doubt everything you say. Your opinion will no longer be valuable. One just wonders why someone would be so blatantly dishonest without any purpose.
  • It’s selfish – You do it in the garb of being sweet but the truth is that it’s just convenient. You’re a liar. You talk sweet only to ensure your popularity. You lack the  guts to give genuine feedback. You could’ve helped your friend by telling them how to improve but you chose the easier way. And you did that only for yourself. Not a sweet thing to do, right?
Compliments play an important role in any relationship you have.  Compliments by definition are free, yet they’re priceless. They must be used carefully. Give sincere, genuine and honest compliments to enhance your relationship with friends, family, work colleagues and bosses. 🙂

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