DO NOT BE BURDENED BY INSECURITIES

In life, we come across so many people. Some people are unique in a good way, and some in not so good way. In one of my recent trips, I came across one such girl, named Bhavya. On the positive, she is very bubbly, fun, and talks a lot. Like way too much of talking, she cannot stay silent for a couple of minutes. Every day, before we start our day’s venture, she would hold 2 – 3 options for outfits she wants us to choose from. Every choice a person makes, she would find some way in which that would not make her look beautiful. This dress is too dull, the sleeve is too long, the color is not suitable for today’s weather and whatnot. Initially, I thought she is indecisive. To be indecisive is a small problem, but sooner I realized she is looking for acceptance from others. After two days, as our group became more close, she started asking many more opinions of others. Literally regarding everything, including what she should order to eat. After a certain point in time, I wondered how she would live if she were on all her own.

We were more girls on the trip than boys. Bhavya was actively looking out for a partner. So, every good looking boy she sees, she would turn around to me and ask, “What do you feel about him? Is he good looking?“. Once or twice wouldn’t have been so irritating to me, but after 10 times in half an hour, I responded with a little bit of a serious face, “You are asking a wrong person. I came all the way here to sync in the beauy of the place and culture rather than invest my time in validating whether someone is good looking or not. Moreover, if you are the one who is going to ask him out, your opinion is what matters, not mine”. As you can imagine, this triggered Bhavya’s anger. She did not talk with me that day but wished me at the next day’s breakfast table. I returned her wish and smiled in response. I thought things would get back to normal, but they didn’t.

She continued to ask questions as is, so there was no effect on her to what I said. Instead, there was an addition to every question of hers, “Don’t judge me ok”. So, now the question would be, “Ok, now, please don’t judge me. Tell me which ice cream do you think I should try??”. I was literally feeling like, “Oh God!! Please let go of me Bhavya” but I could not say that out. Finally I am the one who is judgemental 🙂 There were two other girls who tried to explain to her how she is being too naive and looking for other’s approval to do things. There were a few who literally judged her that she is too negative and indecisive.

I believe she is thinking in negative ways, or double-checking all her choices because she is insecure. Insecurity breeds a lot of negativity in a person. Such people always think like Bhavya. They are not confident enough because they presume others are going to criticize or make fun of them if the choice turns out to be the wrong one. They would constantly look for approval, be nice to others. They want to be liked. They literally strive to make a place. Insecurity does not enter a person always because of fear. Sometimes, it might have developed purely because of others, how people would have treated them. They might have heard phrases like, ” You are not beautiful“, “you look so fat”, “you are a loser”, “you cannot accomplish anything in life” and took them to their heart. Because of such treatment from others, they constantly cannot stop thinking what others would think of them. Living with insecurity is like a cursed life.

Insecurity can change a person’s thought process upside down if it is not addressed. If you encounter such people who are seeking for approval, fill confidence in them. Tell them, the only person who needs to approve is, they themselves. Making a wrong choice is absolutely ok and that’s how we learn. As kids, we fall and rise on our own. Facing the critics is something similar. Not everyone is going to like us as we are, sometimes they may not like us even if we change ourselves but that is absolutely fine too. In this case, the person who is criticizing is the one who needs to be treated because his/her criticism has crossed boundaries to cause insecurity in many others. The first and foremost way to deal with insecurity is not to feel secure but to have the strength to tolerate insecurity.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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COULD IT HAVE BEEN ANY BETTER?

Many of us may be content and happy about how our life is today but if we look back and can change something, we would certainly have more than one thing to change. Though we don’t regret what has happened, there is nothing wrong in introspecting to make our future better.

When it comes to my life, without a doubt what I would want to change is how I dealt with people and feelings associated with them. Quite a few things that are usually obvious for others were not so for me. A lack of understanding of people has let me down many times. Someone told me, “It is easy even for a fool to fool you. All they have to do is smile“. This came from an acquaintance and has disturbed me for quite some time now. That’s because the statement is true. But how?

I am sure all of you have friends. During our schooling, university, at work place and even in the neighborhood we make friends. Some of them grow up to become acquaintances and others become best friends. When we are moving from one phase of life to another, our friends change and so are our expectations from them. Sometimes we outgrow our friends and other times our friends outgrow us. In this process, our friends can make us better or worse. As the interests are growing apart, it is important to assess if we can still be friends with that person. May be we jelled well earlier, but at that point of time, we should ask ourselves if this is the person who we would want to be associated with. The answer might turn out to be “no” for some and we should let go of them. Often we don’t do this essential assessment and end up with emotional baggage. There is absolutely no need to maintain friends that can be harmful to us in the future. I never really did this in my life. I always had few friends and every time the distances grew it has only left me devastated.

The second thing I would have done differently would be to open up myself for the world more than I did. My parents were very protective. They would allow me to do certain things on my own like applying for passport or opening a bank account but they would always drop me till the doorstep of the office. I never used went out with friends or movies etc. This continued even after I got a job because I felt this how it is in the world. Even when my cousins who are younger than me bought their own vehicles, I thought a two wheeler is unnecessary even when I could afford it. Are you thinking what’s the big deal? I have not learnt the importance of having independence. If we are always dependent on others to commute, go out and do something, we loose our individuality. Also, this might create fear in some people to do things alone. What helped me here was I started travelling alone. At first, I was really very scared. Fortunately I found a good travel group. This does not in any way mean I have not had hiccups. Someone misbehaved on a trip, has unpleasant experiences travelling solo but, how soon I overcame those was really surprising. Few years ago the same would have stolen my sleep for a few days. Now, I have a better understanding of what trivial situations I should not loose my sleep over. Few days ago, my dad said, “You have been travelling quite a lot. Why don’t you stop now?”. “I started travelling just now, there are so many countries and so many places. I don’t know how much I can cover in this life” was my response. My dad was not expecting that answer from me. But girls, trust me, the confidence in you is the strength to your family. Tomorrow if you run into some trouble, your family should be confident that you would be able to deal with it. Parents, request for you, do let your kids spread their wings. There is no great teacher than life.

Slowly and steadily I am trying to grow and learn from life. It has been tough and it is only going to be tougher. Sure, we cannot change our past but with constant introspection into our own self, accepting our mistakes, learnings from our elders we would be able to traverse through life with ease and certainly carve our future. Hopefully, the small changes I am making would make my life better. Is there anything you would want to change? If so, what is that?

THE INVISIBLE INFLUENCES

A couple of months back I was at the OB-GYN, waiting for my turn. There were almost 20 women already waiting, so I thought it would take time before I would be called in. I took out my phone to continue reading the book I started. Few pages into the book, I was pondering on the idea of the author when a girl in her mid-twenties walked in. 

Receptionist: Good morning Mam!

Her: Good morning! I need an appointment with OBG.

Receptionist: Name mam

Her: Abigail 

Receptionist: Number of weeks or gestation period?

Her: 28 weeks

Receptionist: Age mam

Her: 26

Receptionist: Married mam?

Her: Unmarried 

Receptionist: (Little hesitant, she asked again to reconfirm) Unmarried mam?

Her: Yes

By now, everyone’s eyes in the room were fixed on her. I slipped back into reading my book. I was called for my checkup and the doctor ordered for a scan. I was seated at the waiting area of the radiology wing when Abigail approached me and almost snapped with the question, “Would you mind if I sit here?“. There was a dose of anger in her face. “Sure“, I replied. 

“Is it so difficult to not make me feel awkward? Why can’t you do your own stuff and not concentrate on others?” – she said in a tone which was screaming frustration.

“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to. Abigail, right?”. She nodded

“Abigail, you are feeling awkward because you noticed us glance at you when you said you weren’t married. I understand that it might be difficult for you to go through the process of birthing being unmarried. In a conservative society like India, heads are going to turn every time you say you are unmarried with this baby bump. By now, you have made a decision to go ahead with the baby, so, the only thing you should do is to get accustomed to these stares.”

She was staring at me with a puzzled face

“I am not judging you. In fact, I don’t know how you ended up with this pregnancy. This pregnancy could be a result of someone not keeping their promise, or you are having an IVF, or you are the receiver of an unconsented sexual encounter. Whatever the reason may be, personally I appreciate that you stood for your baby. There is a lot more for you to handle apart from these stares. Don’t give too much importance to what we would think or say. Am I going to help you during your delivery? No. Would I be taking care of your kid in the future? No. Do you think if you would ever cross my thoughts again? Maybe.  Am I your family or friend? No.. then, why should you care about what I think? Abigail, I don’t want to be harsh on you, but straight to the point, please stop consciously noticing other’s behaviors.”

“Are you saying it’s my fault?”

“It is not about one’s fault. Not about what is right or wrong either. When you made a decision, you should be prepared for the consequences, good or bad. Whatever your path may be, there would always be people who dislike it or criticize it. If I were you, I would think about ensuring a safe and secure future for my kid. The rest should be taking a back seat at this point in time.”

She smiled and I moved on with my scan. I never saw her again. I hope she is doing fine and had a healthy baby. 

It is not just Abigail who thinks about what others would think or behave when we do certain things, all of us do. Many think that only when we are doing something that does not fit into the “rightness” of society we tend to change or modify our decisions. In fact, these invisible factors are influencing us every day, they would continue to do so if we allow them to. 

Consider a situation when you are out for dinner with friends or family. When we are placing an order in a round-robin fashion, if anyone before us chooses the same dish as we have in mind, we tend to change our choice. This is often because we think it hinders our individuality. We do not buy shoes or clothing we see are being worn by many others. 

One more example could be choosing our next vacation spot. Many who follow others on facebook or Instagram, choose their vacation spot that is different than others in their social network. Somehow, we like to say that we visited a place no one else did. Constantly, we are conscious of our decisions. 

As far as I am concerned, I give the least importance to what others or society thinks. I believe society does little when we are in trouble. If we have a very caring society and family, we wouldn’t be so worried about our decisions in the first case. So, why give so much importance to what others think? Why should we base our decisions on their thoughts? We should always do what is best for us but do not hurt others at the same time. 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

– Dr. Seuss

WITHOUT COMMITMENT NOTHING WILL HAPPEN

Looking back at my life, I can assuredly say that I have made mistakes because of my fear. In one of my earlier articles, I have expressed how fear for something new holds me back sometimes, it could be moving to a new place, taking up a new job or going on a new adventure. While some of these examples were only causing a little setback or slight disappointment, there were other big-ticket items that were affecting my contentment of life. When I realized I am falling behind than where I ideally should be in life, there was one question that I had to find the answer for, “What is that one thing that is different than earlier?”. When I say earlier, during schooling or university time and even during my first few years of job, I did not have this feeling of missing something. Did I change, if so, what is the change? 

The analyst in me needed to roll the sleeves up. I started with something very basic. I asked myself, these questions. “Am I where I wanted to be?”. “If this is not where I should be, do I have the right skills to move to the next level?. “What should I do differently to progress and make an impact on my own life? and so on.. While I was going through the list of questions, one particular question caught my eye, the second question (In teal color above). Many times when we do interviews, we don’t look for candidates who have all the required skills to perform the job. We only look for candidates who have the right attitude to learn on the job to be able to perform their duties. We even ask them questions about their personal lives and their choices to see if they are really committed to serving their duties. There it is, that was what I was looking for – the reason for my delayed success is my fear of commitment. I have always been a hopeful person, and my wishes are very discreetly defined. If I have these two in place, then the only thing that is required is commitment. I won’t say I have commitment issues, but I do have a fear of commitment.

I always check if I am eligible to take up the commitment and if I can perform my responsibilities to fulfill the task I would be committing to. This holds good for both personal and professional fronts. Unfortunately, in life, nothing comes with a guarantee or warranty, so, it is almost impossible to anticipate what the future holds for us. With the unknown, making the commitment has a lot more to do with our beliefs. Let me give you an example to explain this.

While working with an NGO, I came across an interesting man. Both the man and his wife are from joint families, so, they are very much used to living with more than 10 people in the same house. They never wanted to have their own kid, but to adopt one. When it was time to choose the kid they want to adopt, they chose a disabled girl. The girl is paralyzed down below her waist and needed special care. They thought since they have a big family, it would be much more apt for the girl to have so many people who can be there for her all round the clock. The girl settled into the family and was happy. Two years later, the wife was diagnosed with colon cancer. As the medical facility was not available in their town, they came to Bangalore for treatment. As living expenses in Bangalore are relatively high, the husband and wife only moved to Bangalore. Their hometown is almost 20 hours journey by train. After 3 months of fighting with cancer, the lady started to fear that this may be the end of her life. She wanted to spend more time with their daughter. Neither the girl nor the woman was in a position to travel often, so the father brought the girl to live along with them. He is the only one who has to take care of the girl now. On one side he might lose his wife to deadly cancer and on the other side, he has to be at home to help the little girl out for most of the time. When they adopted the girl, this was not the life they imagined for the little one. He has been doing this every single day for more than a year now. He could do this only because he is committed to both his wife and their daughter.

When I compare my problems with something like this, I find them very trivial. Is any decision I am going to make cost me my life or harm anyone? If not, then why am I scared to make a commitment? During childhood, a plan is almost set to us by someone else, and we only need to do our best in learning the same. When it comes to life, we are committing ourselves to the plan we make and that was my main drawback.  I lead a team of almost 25 people at work, and I know how a lack of commitment affects me. If one cannot commit themselves, the probability that they are going to ensure deliveries on time is minimal. Would I be happy to have such a team member? If I continue to nurture such behaviour what I would experience is dysfunction.

At home and outside, we form the team(s). Some times it is only two people that share the responsibility and some times it is more than two. Even if one of them is not committed, the task may not be accomplished or would be accomplished with diminished quality.

When we are committed we put our plans to action and that leads to success. In the process of being committed, we gain fulfilling relationships because one can trust us with their eyes closed. Commitment is the most important stepping stone to success. I believe if we are committed we will always find a way to make things work.

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

HONEY! I LOVE YOU…

Honey Glazed Walnuts ?? Yes, yes. Heard you. They are delicious and healthy. But so are honey glazed chicken, honey glazed carrots, sriracha and honey glazed broccoli. Browsing these recipes is like food porn, watching the ingredients bring the dish to life while salivating almost makes me full sometimes. If one has to ask me what is that one versatile ingredient that you would want to experiment with while cooking, my answer without a doubt would be honey. It can be added to any vegetable or meat to bring that twist. Have you tried honey with a bitter gourd? If you love bitter gourd, you should try this. 

My morning routine starts with a glass of warm water with honey and lemon.

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

It gives the required kick to the morning. Lemon is refreshing, and the honey helps boost energy.  For many years of my life, my morning beverage was coffee, but once I replaced it with lemon and honey water, I saw dramatic improvements in my health.

Honey acquires its characteristic taste depending on where the bees collect the nectar from. If the honeycomb is an area where Neem plants are more, one could easily taste the bitterness in the honey. 

Honey improves our immunity, which helps us fight a lot of diseases. Are you anemic? Have a tablespoon of honey a day, and you would see improvement in your hemoglobin levels. Honey also is an excellent remedy for cough. Honey was considered a medicine in ancient times, and in India, it is still part of many home remedies. A mixture of honey and ginger juice helps heal sour throat. Honey has antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, and in some cases, can heal wounds. 

I was watching a food show a couple of days ago where they said that honey is not recommended for infants less than a year old. I was curious to know if this is true because, in our households, we do give honey to newborn babies. After some reading on different websites, and this is what they say, “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” So, let your kid be of a year old before you start giving honey to them. 

little kid looking at homemade pancakes with berries and honey on table
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Do you know how to check if the honey you are using is authentic and not adulterated with sugar? Take a bowl, add a tablespoon of honey into the bowl. Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl and gently swirl the bowl. After a few rounds of water on the honey, the honey would look something like a honeycomb. If the honeycomb shape is not formed, you can be sure that the honey is not pure. This amazed me when I tried it. Honey is so versatile, can get along with any food item, helps us stay healthy and all of this while maintaining its own authenticity. This is so important for us humans to understand from honey, honey bees, honeycomb or I must say, the honey-making process all in all teach us to be selfless, have a meaning for life, help others and be kind without losing our own self-identity. 

The glob of precious honey that I had poured into my mouth at Ace’s was the life’s work of hundreds of bees, a unique floral ode collected from thousands of blossoms in a poetic foraging ritual – Holley Bishop

I AM DISAPPEARING

Cynthia: Hey, why are you staring at me? 

Lucy: You look beautiful.

Cynthia: Thank you! 

Lucy: You seem so happy. 

Cynthia: Aren’t you happy? 

Lucy:  I don’t look beautiful as you. 

Cynthia: What has beauty to do with happiness?

Lucy: No? See, so many people come to visit you. They are amazed by your beauty. They take lots of pictures of you 😦

Cynthia: You would have seen many who admire my external appearance. Have you encountered anyone who cares for me? 

Lucy: Oh! But why?

Cynthia: Yes, people are interested in their recreation but never think of what can be done to preserve us. 

Lucy: No? 

Cynthia: Well, no.  They aren’t even bothered if I am going to be extinct. Many of my fellow species have already become extinct. 

Lucy: Then I am the one who is better off here. At least some people are interested in giving food and accepting me as their family. 

Cynthia: Yes, you are lucky. 

Lucy: Most of our habitats are being occupied, I hope they stop doing this. 

Cynthia: Yes, sorry, Lucy. I cannot do anything for you. 

Lucy: Yes, you can. Please be happy

Are you wondering who Cynthia and Lucy are? This is their picture together. 

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(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

From the moment I saw the picture, there was only one question on my mind. When was the last time I saw a butterfly in Bangalore? Except for parks, I have never seen them otherwise. I remember during childhood, so many caterpillars and butterflies were taking rounds in our garden. Now, we don’t have them. It is sad, the first thing I thought of is the butterfly extinction when I saw this picture. 

Butterflies do not need much from us. They have their own enemies in the form of birds and insects. All we need to do is not dwell on their habitats. Another reason why butterflies are dying is the use of pesticides. Fruits, vegetables, and nectar are the main staples for butterflies. The use of pesticides is causing genetic changes in the produce, that butterflies could not survive on them. During summer, when the temperature crosses 40 degrees Celcius, butterflies cannot fly. They lose their capacity to fly. If you see a butterfly in your balcony or garden, during such time, provide water and some corn for them to eat. They cannot survive otherwise. Butterflies are very beautiful, and future generations would have to only read about them in books if we do not become responsible. Hope to see lots of colorful butterflies coming season.

BLEND IN IS WHAT THEY SAY …

I cannot stand snakes. I hate them so much that even a picture of them makes me sick in the stomach. Lizards are very close in resemblance to snakes, but I somehow developed an interest in them. I might have been very young when I started reading articles and watching national geography documentaries. They can stick to any surface and crawl. Lizards are very interesting to me 🙂 

Lizards are the most common species on earth, found at every possible place including our houses. Antartica is an exception. They live in rain-forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, and even on trees and shrubs. There are more than 6000 varieties of lizards. Of all these, I am very fascinated by Chameleons. Chameleons are the variety that changes color in a jiffy. pink, red, orange, green, blue, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. If you won’t get scared of watching lizards, then please watch this.  

There are certain interesting facts about lizards. Broadly, lizards are characterized into three color groups. I believe they are yellow, blue and brown/black. Each of these colors means compassionate, playboy, loyal. Interestingly the females mate with the species that are low in number in their vegetation to prevent extinction. By doing this, they preserved all three species successfully for the last 200 years. 

Lizard is the species which has the highest tensile muscle among all living species. It’s their tongue. Like snakes, lizards also smell with their tongue and do not have ears. To catch the prey, lizard lets out a small portion of its tongue to smell the surroundings. Once it finds the prey, it releases its tongue at a speed of 225mph. I would recommend watching that in slow motion 🙂 Lizards come in various sizes. The ones that are larger in size are the ones considered to be harmful to humans otherwise lizards are harmless. 

I can go on and on writing about them, but, let me tell you a funny encounter with lizards. I am not sure if it’s funny because it is going to have a sad ending. End of last year I went on a holiday for two weeks. By the time I returned home, there were not one, not two but three lizards in my kitchen. I was not scared when I saw them, somehow it felt very weird to be cooking in the kitchen where lizards are moving freely. How many days can I go without cooking? I had to find a way to get rid of them. I have no idea how to get rid of them. What’s the one thing that usually saves us? Google. Yes, I started googling to find out how to get rid of lizards. There were several remedies like peacock feathers, camphor etc. After failed trials for two weeks, I had no option but the forcefully send them out. I cleaned up the entire kitchen counter, placed back all jars into the cabinets. I tried using the broomstick and duster, but it was another failure.. 

Unable to find out any remedy, I contemplated if I should kill them. This fight went on for two days. I had no clue how to kill them either. Trust me, I tried various cleaning solutions, sprays possible. At last, what worked was cockroach spray. It worked but I had to see the lizard suffer. The tail portion of the lizard separated from its body and just like octopus tentacles it was moving even after it was separated for more than a minute. Trust me, it wasn’t easy killing those. I couldn’t sleep for a few days but I had no other option. 

If any of you are petting a lizard, please excuse me for killing them. I feel sorry for them as well. As much as possible I am not going to do this again. From next time I would be careful to not let lizards than having to get rid of them later. Any ideas for this would be appreciated. I like lizards but I don’t think I would ever pet one. Though what I could learn from them is to adapt to situations around. It makes a lot of sense considering how bad the world around is now-a-days . Either we should stand out or blend in. By this, I do not mean that we have to do bad things to fit in. Lizards only do that to not get noticed and become prey to their predators. 

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” 
― Raymond E. Feist