20 something and still unsure?

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In this fast paced life, you come across individuals from different age groups each having unique aspirations and goals. However, I am more fascinated with the people in their 20s. Their stark ideology about life makes me wonder if they are really travelling in the same boat.

20s is a phase when newly classified adults are actually struggling with the title of being an adult. While for some, it may be a smooth sail but for rest it may be a long arduous journey. Some like to stick to the usual norms of the society that marks successful accomplishment of their transition to adulthood whereas some prefer to just make their own rules. While each to their own, I couldn’t help but think about the ones who take their own time to accept adulthood in its full form.

In these few years of conscious living, I have come across extremely motivated, inspirational and energetic guns in their 20s who are really clear about what they want in life. Not only are they happily working towards the predicted milestones set by the society, they tend to overcome the biggest hurdle of defining the purpose of life that daunts some of their counterparts who may not be as receptive. So does it mean it is the end of the road for the struggling 20 something individuals who are slow, indecisive, unpredictable and unsure about their life?

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Right from childhood, we are encouraged to plan our life well as every action is linked to the future. We are taught to think about the future and work towards it. We are expected to have a vision in life – what we want to become, what we want to achieve and where do we see ourselves in the next few years. We become so accustomed to plan our future that it becomes a part of our life and we feel motivated to work towards it every day. But do you think that all of us can easily assimilate what we are taught from childhood? May be no. And this explains the reason for the poles apart thought process of people in their 20s. Probably, the ones who could not accept this process in their formative years tend to question its purpose when they prepare for transition to adulthood. And it is these slow yet inquisitive fellows, who would want to experiment and fail till they make their own rule book that they can happily follow.

I think at the end of the day, our purpose in life is the same – happiness. But our journeys are so different that we tend to judge people on the basis of the paths they chose in their life. I have noticed that the sorted out 20s tend to frown upon their peers who decide to take the less dictated path. Therefore, as young individuals, it is important for us to embrace different ideologies about life and celebrate the struggle of the ones who cannot fit into the predictable pattern of leading life that is usually preached by the society. Probably, 20s is the only time when we have all the rights to make and break our own rules before we standardize them for our 30s.

PS – I tend to fling between the two ideologies frequently but I think I have a rule-book “almost” in place that combines the best of the worlds 🙂

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Gratitude or Request?

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As a writer, you remain in constant search for inspiration to pick up the pen and let your thoughts flow freely. To my surprise, it’s not the experiences in life that inspire me to write, it’s the people who experience life that inspire my thoughts.

Thinking about writing, people, experiences and the world, my mind pondered about prayers and people today. I recall a prayer we were taught in school and were encouraged to religiously recite in morning assembly. But I was always intrigued by its opening lines “Humko mann ki shakti dena, mann vijay kare, doosron ki jai se pehle khudh ko jay karein” (God, give us inner strength, before we cheer for victory of others, make us victorious).

I couldn’t help but rewind these lines again and again in my thoughts to be amazed how a prayer could teach us meaningful lessons in life. The naiveness of teenagerhood pushed me to write my interpretation of these lines after almost 8 years.

I will divide the opening lines into two parts. The first part (Humko mann ki shakti dena, mann vijay kare) is intended to seek courage to overcome the worldly fears, let go of inhibitions and become self-confident so that we can shine in life. We pray for courage because God presumed that every human being will have some fear like failing at studies, career, love, marriage and kids. In short, he knew that at every point, humans will be affected by such self-inflicted fears of different phases of life that are meant to be enjoyed in their good and bad form alike. So does it mean all these years we have been praying to Almighty asking for strength to overcome the fear of “living life” itself?

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The second part (doosron ki jai se pehle khudh ko jay karein) is for requesting Almighty to give us the strength to win over ourselves before we win over the world. Just like God knew that we will need courage to live a fearless life, he also knew that as we grow up, we will stop loving ourselve because we start living for others. And the world will label such humanly actions as being ‘selfless’ which in fact is an outright lie. How can you think of caring for others when you forget to care for yourself? Do you think you can really bring joy to your loved ones, when you can’t smile for yourself? Would you be able to conquer this world, when you cannot conquer yourself?

In these bygone years, I have realized the reason we were asked to recite this prayer every morning. As we grow up, we become overpowered by inhibitions that we forget to appreciate different shades of life. Not only this, we fall out of love with our own self in our efforts to care for others. We fear being condemned by the society for being selfish to think a little about ourselves. Such thoughts just make me wonder if this is what our life was ever meant for – to live every moment in fear while trying to make others happy.

Will this prayer ever become an expression of gratitude or will it always remain a request?

PS – Without any bias, I could never bring myself to recite this prayer after school and I hope my teachers will be proud of me for a lesson well learnt.

MRT Musings

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Pondering over instances that reminded me of how sometimes we meticulously plan our life just to realize that in reality we might be pushed to a dead end, I couldn’t help but think how unpredictable and uncertain life can be. We become so optimistic about plan A that we totally ignore plan B. At least that’s what most of us always do knowing that a failure may just throw our life out of gear. But then you realize, this is life, you live it only once with no backups and no sureties.

Then how do we survive through the dark tunnel that terrorizes us till the time we see some rays of hope. In such moments, we are reduced to our most vulnerable form and our insecurities come alive. The feeling of helplessness is uncalled but slowly slithers in like a snake. It’s in such situations that we realize we are undergoing a real crisis.  It becomes extremely easy to lose ourselves and feel miserable not knowing what to do. But as it is said that judge no man’s character in sunny times, wait for the storm to barge in and see if he is still alive.

Thinking of dead ends and standstills, in this quarter lived life I have bumped into my share of such phases.But what surprises me is how I have learnt to enjoy and discover myself when life comes to a halt. I remember my first brush with the dark tunnel and the cry baby reactions to it. But with age, oh boy, I feel I have learnt to accept uncertainties’ gracefully. Just recently, I read about Ellis Stewart’s attempt to climb Mount Everest that he has shared in his novel – Everest, It’s not about the summit.

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He has so beautifully described how his life came to a standstill when he failed at his attempt to climb Cho Oyu (the sixth highest peak in the world), became a divorced father at 28, and was left with no money, job and home. He was depressed but still kept on going. But the most appreciable part about Ellis is he never gave up and survived through times to live his dream of climbing up the Everest and writing a novel on it. I am reminded of another such instance of courage and adaptability to uncertainties of people from Kashmir who have survived in the most heavily militarized area of the world yet have not given up on their hopes to see a normal life knowing that it is a far-fetched dream.I have realized that in uncertainties’ you can both stare back at life and look into its eyes or you can just shy away and drive yourself in a cramped hole. Maybe staring might not give you much of joy but will give you the courage to push through the dead end and make your own way.

And sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves, ‘but darling, in the end you got to be your own hero because everyone is too busy trying to save themselves’.

PS – The inspiration for this post is Ellis’s novel that I am half way through but could not help to write about it even before completing it. And yes! I wrote typed this post on my phone while listening to Despacito and staring at the absurd looking poop emoticon styled hair band of the woman standing right next to me in the MRT. 🙂

A spirited bird in the city

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It was a perfect evening. The cool sea breeze and the enchanting city lights created the magical setting to mark the near completion of one year away from home. After getting over with work in the evening, I decided to spend some lone time soaking in the spirit of the city. I glided through the labyrinth of towering skyscrapers while humming the lyrics of Alicia Keys’ New York.  I ordered a takeaway meal at McDonald’s and comfortably sat at a place for the next 2 hours where I could gaze at the beautiful skyline.

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Singapore Skyline – the only shot I was able to click last night before my phone battery ran out!

As I took a bite of the burger and submerged myself in the lyrics (these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you), I began to reminisce the days when I was so resistant to move to a new city. And today after one year, I thanked God for giving me the courage to take a leap of faith. I could have never understood the importance of discovering myself in the winds of change had it not been to this enriching year.

As a growing up teenager, I had always romanticized an independent life- earning a livelihood, taking care of self and loved ones, and living to my decisions. In short, I always yearned to be an adult. But all these years, I still behaved like a child trapped in a grown up’s body, pampered by family and friends. However, today I feel like an adult who has learnt to gracefully live in uncertainty with head held up high. Though I am living a life I always wanted and I am happy with it but sometimes I tend to miss the warmth of family and friends! Maybe, I was a bird that wanted to be in the nest while experiencing the joy of flying. But as it is said, you can’t have the cake and keep it too. So I have learnt to eat my cake and live in the moment of experiencing its sweetness not thinking what will happen if I finish it.

Maybe some decisions change the course of your life forever. May be this was one of it. And maybe it was for all good.

PS- I somehow suspect my new office colleagues want me to get diabetes. I am not used to people being sweet and kind to me especially at work place. Recently, my Japanese boss bought me some chocolates from Japan on observing the number of wrappers of Toblerone lying on my table at end of every day.  I couldn’t help but think if I deserve so much of kindness especially from someone who has just known me for 4 weeks yet made so much of efforts to make me feel valued. I was short of words and just thanked him,’Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu’! 🙂

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Japanese chocolate – yet to taste it 🙂

When will we stop being a ‘sperm’?

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As an over-thoughtful soul who should have ideally studied human psychology instead of business, some recent conversations with friends about incidents where people tend to ask overtly personal questions instigated me to again put on my thinking hat exploring the idea of an individual’s personal space.

As an adult who has now moved to the other side of 20s, I am often quizzed on certain questions and pulled into conversations in an attempt to know me better that render me completely uncomfortable and exposed. And mind you, such conversations happen with individuals who may have known me for a couple of months or even just few days but the questions make me think if this person has actually known me since eternity.

So today, I just thought to pen down my definition of  personal space. For sake of ease in understanding, I will explain it through a biological process. Just imagine your personal life as an egg cell and the outside world as the numerous sperms who want to be a part of this egg cell. With the intent to fertilize the egg cell personal life, millions of sperms the world attack the egg cell and try to seep through the wall. But only one sperm wins the battle while the rest die to pave way for commencement of a new life.

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From such a basic process of determining compatibility, even nature has nourished the idea of personal space. Then how difficult is it for grown up adults to appreciate and respect it? All of us wear an invisible cloak around us that we carry wherever we go and with whoever we are. This cloak separates our personal being from the world and is our sacred space. In an attempt to know a person and identify compatibility as a colleague, friend, lover or life partner, it’s a normal human tendency to gain a peek-a-boo of the personal space. But when will we stop behaving like ‘sperms’ that will randomly attack a person to become a part of their life. As thoughtful human beings, we need to understand that asking right questions can pave way for an individual to become more open and welcoming to accept you in his/ her life.

I do not know if I should feel fortunate or unfortunate, but from a young age, I have moved around with this invisible cloak that has often made people brand me as ‘reserved’, ‘introvert’ and the worst of all – a ‘snob’. But these tags have always made me realize that these were the unsuccessful sperms that could never seep through the wall because they never asked the right questions.

Just two months back, I was interviewing for a company where I was asked if I have a lot of friends. My reply was ‘No’. But I did not stop there. Because I knew that the interviewer was judging my compatibility skills and how well I can get along with people in a professional space. So, I did not end my reply. I gave the interviewer my piece of mind and told him that I am not a person who can easily categorize people as ‘friends’. I have a lot of acquaintances from professional space but not a lot of friends because I invest a lot of time in building relationships. When I call someone as a ‘friend’, it means that person is a part of my personal space because that person always asked the right questions to be a part of my life a.k.a one of the successful sperms!

You may ask now what the right questions are. Well, I would never tell my readers about it because I want you to stop acting like a sperm and put on your thinking hat when you go out to make new relations. But just a word of advice – every human inherently is open to new relations but in an attempt to know that person never ask questions that would have made you uncomfortable if someone had asked you to know you better. Be sensitive, kind and genuine in your approach.

PS – To all those who struggle like me to hang up with such conversations, well, as an adult learn to deal with it! You will figure out your way with a witty response to silly questions.

Are we living in a pretentious world?

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As I surf closer to the end of another chapter in life, I have discovered some ingrained human traits that we tend to deny but sooner or later we project it in our behavior and interactions.

Hypocrisy seems an extremely malicious word and everyone fears to be categorized as a ‘hypocrite’. But the reality is that on days when the darker side of our personality becomes dominant, being a hypocrite comes very naturally to all of us.

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There are days when we fail to follow what we preach. And of course, as humans this again comes very natural to us as we all love to preach but fail to follow our own advice. For instance, you hear someone supporting the LGBT rights and the very next moment the same person may become extremely uncomfortable on being asked about his/ her sexual preference. Similarly, if you ask a guy if he respects woman in general, prompt reply will be ‘Of course, I do’. And probably you might overhear the same guy calling his friend a mother fucker in a casual conversation over phone. Hypocrisy doesn’t consider race, sex, culture or religion. It’s inherent to the human species. It is almost second to our nature.

Each one of us wears a different mask every day. The moment you step out of your home and enter college or office you wear a different mask. And then you easily put on another mask when with family and friends. But no matter how many masks you wear and roles you play, but deep inside all of us, there is a certain set of values and principles which should always remain unchanged. Because the moment those principles start changing with those masks, you move closer to becoming a hypocrite.

So don’t be afraid to speak your mind not with the intent of pleasing people but because you believe in what you say and you stand by it. And whenever in doubt, remember you are a human being and not a chameleon.