I AM WHAT I AM!

I am amazed to know what people think about me. Lot of times, many people tell me that till the time they didn’t know me well, they thought I was a complete snob, held too much attitude and I appeared as someone who won’t talk much! While some tell me that since the first meeting they just felt so comfortable with me and love my way of communicating and they appreciate how easily I can get along with an infant to oldies effortlessly. So contradictory right? Talkative or not, snobbish or humble, I am what I am!

Let’s talk about my physical appearance. I am fat. Lot of people say that on my face. I am body shamed every single day by someone or the other. But hey, I am what I am! I could be fat, but I have a beautiful heart and decently intelligent mind.

Let’s talk about my dressing. I am more comfortable wearing kurtas. So I am often considered to be a “behenji” but hey, who said simple is not beautiful? Behenji or not, I am what I am!

You know I am the types who prefers to laze on a couch with a book in my hand or may be watch some TV. I do not enjoy pubs and parties. That makes my social status as “boring”. Not many friends like to hangout with me but I have a few who stand by me in my most difficult times. Boring or no, I am what I am!

While we were trying to conceive, I remember hearing a typical advice from family and strangers alike. I was suggested to give up my (very fulfilling and lucrative) job just to focus on getting pregnant. According to them I was not giving enough time to do what it takes to get pregnant. I had medical complications, but which treatment would be applicable outside the fertile window of a women and why would I give up my job only for that one week every month! That made me over ambitious and also someone who did not want to bear the responsibility of raising children. Over ambitious, irresponsible or whatever, I am what I am.

I am someone who doesn’t take people’s unsolicited advice too seriously. Also, i do not worry too much as to what others will say. Because “Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hain kehna!”

A sculpture takes immense hammering from the sulcuptor before it becomes a beautiful piece. Countless dents are given to the rock to make an expressive sculpture. I consider these “log” as the sculptor and their remarks and opinions and advice as the dents. In short, I take all this in my stride.

Never get bogged down by what people have to say. They will always have something to say and more often than not it will be about how something could have been better or how you fail at something always. You will get to hear very few words of appreciation. So be it. Do not measure yourself with the yardstick of what people have to say. Measure yourself against your own expectations. Try to beat your own expectations from self rather than wasting energy on trying to please people. Try to be a better version of yourself. And never get a complex because of the way people shame you. You are what you are! Focus on your strengths rather than people’s opinions!

Be good, do good. And call yourself good because you wont get to hear it too often from others!

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BULLYING IN THE NAME OF AUTHORITY

Are you a lesbian?“, my teacher asked my buddy.

A day ago, we celebrated Teacher’s Day – the day when we shower gifts, cakes, and cards on our teachers, no matter how much we love or hate them. Nowadays it actually doesn’t matter if we even respect them. Once there were teachers who were respect-worthy and knew how to shape a child into responsible teenagers. Alas, while I grew up, I came across some very narrow-minded teachers who thought every student was gay. It’s been a very long time ago when I was just a 12-year-old kid when I was introduced to the term “lesbian” by my own school teachers. I think at times that they never thought how would this particular word affect the mind of a teenager.

During that phase, at school, everyone was so conscious about how they looked, the way they talked and behaved with their friends and the way they dressed so that they won’t be judged and talked about being someone they were not. (P.S. I come from a girls’ school. Being gay was a social shame during that time, in our society. Now though things have changed.) Being best friends at school meant we were in some kind of a dirty relationship. We were forced to worry about, “what will everyone think?” about us if we behaved like a best friend to our friends. Being tomboyish was out of the question. If some friends held hands while walking or playing, they were called to the teachers’ common room and scolded. If someone accidentally stared at a girl, then they were said to have some kind of secret dirty feelings for her. Well, no one elaborated it or explained to us or told us why and what these ‘dirty feeling or relationship‘ were, ever.

In those days, our school had become a place of scorn, a place where you are ridiculed and judged. Our school wasn’t anymore the place where you go to get educated, but the place where you are judged senselessly and are forced to think “what will all think about me?“. The school’s environment was very toxic and unhealthy for a good foundation for all the students. The day our Principal came to know about these acts of our beloved teachers, she herself stood against those teachers and made them change their attitude towards all the students.

Being there and having been through such situations, I often feel that, maybe our teachers were fed with wrong information or maybe some crime series aired during those times, which affected their thought processes adversely. Well, even such situations didn’t stop me from judging them or blaming them. Not only blaming such teachers but the entire society, who every now and then have set rules and regulations for some very basic things in life and have made situations worse for the whole society. So worse that the people would be forced to think about if/will/how/why would others judge them. Many times, things backfire and individuals go on to do what their hearts desire. Even then they are judged and pulled back by society, many still overcome such situations and go on to be the successful ones. They learn to live a happy and satisfying life but for others, things go bad and they fall prey to depression which is a result of the constant adjustments with the society.

I too judge people around me, and needless to say, it isn’t a good thing that I do. Neither am I very proud of it. But I have always realized that how I think and act are solely how I see and deal with situations. Others have their perspective and their own ways of handling that particular situation. Judging others or demeaning them, has never ever solved problems, instead, have increased the trouble. So, if we let people be as they are and just accept how things in this world work by not create unnecessary rules, we might pave the path in building a beautiful future where we do not have to think, “log kya kahenge!” (What would people say).

IN THE AMBIGUITY OF “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY”.

Being born and brought up in a middle-class Indian family, the warning sign I always received from my parents – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?” (In Hindi, Log Kya Kahenge?). The moment I hear this question, my mind starts singing the Old Bollywood song – “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehena. Chodo bekar ki batton mein kahin biitna jaye reyna” (People usually talk behind others, that’s there very habit of doing so. But it is better to leave such meaningless matters before the night fall). Whenever anyone poses this question before me, my defense is – “By birth, every individual is Free to Think and Free to Talk. When God and our Constitution cannot put a barrier to people’s mind and mouth. Then who am I to do that!”

Since childhood, both my parents used to bracket down my thoughts and choices with this question – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY. Even today, my mom often quotes me the same anthem whereas Dad has gone one step ahead. He squares me saying – “Now, you’re grown up. You can make the right choice. What you sow, so shall you and your family will reap. Now, it’s up to you!” Mostly, this line slows my pace of decision-making and filters me through a set of questionnaires. One among those thought-provoking questions – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?

Well, Is that so important to think about what others might think!

What’s wrong if I choose what seems me right!

If I listen to people, I might have to drop my choice. Will that be a good idea?

What has people to do with my life?

We all strive to attain good things for our life. Isn’t it? Hence, God has gifted us with the freedom of choice and to navigate this freedom He has empowered us with Knowledge and Wisdom. He had made us little lower than the heavenly angels. Alongside this strength there is a weakness – each individual is finite to his set of ideas and his strength for the execution of his ideas are also limited. In this finite state, as we are confined within our mind-box in the course of time our choices and ideas become irrelevant to our life at large. Probably, that is where we seek help from outside and look for ideas beyond our desk. But, alas. By then, the clock ticks, it’s too late!

In my professional life and at times in my personal affairs also I used to ask my trusted-ones to review my proposals and ideas. I do that because somewhere down the line I saw – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY” was standing on my way. Every time I ask for the screening of my proposals and ideas, I have been beneficial. Does that mean, I am listening to people? Well, let me put my defense in this way – the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” In other words, when I allow someone to interfere in my toiling of ideas, I will have a good return!

Everything in our life comes in mixed bags. I always had to choose for myself from the mixed bag. Optimistically, in the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY thought, our life is filtered from flaws and shaped to set an example. Alongside, it is people whose efforts give existence to Culture and Society. Culture and Society are something that give us an identity and distinguish us into a special category. Culture and Society are moreover a virtue for us.

My American friend Kristin always becomes an Indian in our midst. Just like our Indian moms and daughters in a family, she first serves us the food and then joins the dining. Even after our food, she collects our used plates to the washbasin. It is so blissful to find a foreigner respecting our Indian Culture and instead of complaining as a Westerner, she  tunes in as an Easterner. What made her to do that – the fear WHAT THEY WILL SAY when I am in their place and complaining about their culture.

To save myself from victimizing by the pessimistic side of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, I prefer to stop at the juncture of my mind and do a quick checklist:

  • Is he a God-fearing man that I will trust his voice?
  • Are his words based on the Absoluteness of TRUTH claims?
  • What is the reference point of his ideas – his own or God’s Word?
  • What is his story – Does he have a similar experience like my situation?
  • Is there a logical flow of his ideas or just random ideas unfit and no link?
  • Picture the Consequence – In the long run, Where I will be if I listen to WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY and Where if I follow my mind?

In the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, our life is always altered and becomes exemplary.

“In conclusion, dear friend, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things”.  – THE BIBLE.

ARE WE HUMANS OR RATING MACHINES?

Why this thought?

God created us, the humans as social beings. We are codependent as we coexist in this big large world. Whatever we do in this world whether in our personal life or as a family, it affects the society at large. Sometimes these effects are noticed and identified. Sometimes they are negligible and ignored by others. And some effects, people notice, yet they show a ‘don’t care’ attitude of indifference. Whatever it maybe, we were created to enjoy the gift of life, subdue the earth as we enjoy everything in it and fulfill the purpose for which we were created, that is to worship the Creator in whatever we do.

But sadly, we failed it big time.

We are more sensitive to the wrongs that others are doing rather being sensitive about our own mistakes or wrongs that we do in the darkness. We have seen in the past, that the more we have looked into the mistakes of others we have failed to do the right thing. But the moment we have tried to rectify our own mistakes we have been successful to create a beautiful atmosphere around us. And this hypocritical behavior or attitude of us, humans have instilled this fear in all of us as, “What would people say?”

We fear being judged to the same extent that we are judgmental towards others.

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Let me explain what I mean to say…

If we closely observe people or our own self, we will understand that we always feel safe about doing something that we ourselves don’t judge when people do it. For example, if I don’t judge others for coming home late in the night, then I won’t have the fear of being judged when I, myself come late in the night, keeping family members out of it. In the same way, if I always shun people for being too active on Social Networking sites then I will always have that fear of being judged or ‘think what would people think of me’ when I get online even for an hour on Facebook. So, I keep myself in Invisible Mode. 😛

So, in my opinion, the psychology behind the thought, “what would people say” pops out because of our judgmental attitude.

So, instead of thinking how or what people would think about us, it would be better if we think, what God would feel about what I am doing.  I always worry about this Bible verse which says,

Whatsoever you do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord you shall receive the recompense of the inheritance.”

How does this thought affect us?

Let me take you into a few role-play exercises to understand this segment of my article.

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(Image Credit: Wikihow.com)

A husband and a wife are walking on the street. The husband lovingly holds his wife’s hand while walking. She pushes his hand away saying, “What a disgusting man you are… what would people think of us?”

The husband feels bad but smiles and replies jokingly, “They will think that we are husband and wife…Isn’t it, my love?”

He was right here in this scenario though we definitely can’t be inconsiderate to the wife’s conservative mindset as we all have actually been brought up that way (especially true in conservative cultures). Yet, if they don’t talk it out about this matter openly between themselves then this thought of “what would people say” might create a serious problem between them later.

Moving on to my next scenario, I want to bring all of our attentions to a family where the parents are in a heated debate worrying about “what would people say” if their daughter doesn’t score well in her exams in a very posh school.

Let’s not put too much pressure on our daughter and let her give her exam without worrying about how much she scores.” The mother placed her argument.

But the father says, “Can you even imagine how humiliating it will be for all of us if she doesn’t do well in her exams? What would the other parents think of us?

How pathetic is the mindset of that father who thinks about his prestige but not about his daughter’s psyche!

I remember, in the movie ‘3 Idiots’, in one of the scenes where Farhan (Actor, R Madhavan) tries to convince his father (Actor, Parikshit Sahani) about his passion for being a wild life photographer than being an engineer. When his father says, “What would people think or say”, Farhan replies, “Why should I bother about Mr. X or Y or Z who never did anything for me… Rather it would matter to me what you think about me and my career choice as my father, who has sacrificed so much during my student life.” Finally, his father agrees with him and allows him to pursue his passion.

You’d have to actually meet people to know how many dreams have been crushed and ambitions squashed just with the mentality of What Will People Think!?

The above statement was made by Savio, who pointed out so correctly in his article on the same subject, published yesterday.

In conclusion, I would like to recollect the instance Aastha mentioned about in her Mega Article. It was quite a tricky scenario. But it tells us that it is always better to consider the present status of a person, instead of checking in, to his/her past or judge about their future, if we really care about their benefits. Moreover, we all need a heart to be empathetic about people rather being judgmental. We all need to be human, as created by God, that is in His own image with beautiful attributes instilled in them rather than just silly judgmental freaking beings or silly rating machines.

Keep reading, keep giving your valuable feedback.

Stay Blessed!

DEALING WITH PROBLEMS

Problems are inevitable. Everyone has to go through problems in their lifetime. Sometimes the problems are difficult enough to make us feel giving up what we are doing. We feel nothing is going right and therefore ‘I should quit’. But is that really a solution? 

Well, there is only one solution and that is to never lose hope. However one can avoid problems to some extent. Though one or another problem might keep raising its head, one can do a few things to keep problems away or deal with them. 

So what can do? Well, here are the tips:

  • Working rather than building expectations: Humans can never stop building expectations. Even if they don’t work they will have huge expectations. There is actually no problem with this but the problem arises when our expectations aren’t fulfilled. This can put us into stress, anxiety and may give birth to unexpected problems. So if you want to avoid any problems, work for it. That will surely help you.
  • Doing self-analysis: We know what we are capable of. Before getting into any work, make sure you analyze your capacity. The work that you might think is easy can be tougher and therefore you need to be prepared for that. Self-analysis will help you to avoid problems that you may incur while doing any work.
  • Thinking about the consequences: Whatever work you do, you must think of its consequences. As it has been said, ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. Therefore one must think before acting.
  • Seeking help when needed: We need help at different stages of life. So one must not keep things to themselves when in need of help. It is good to ask for help. When you seek help, you will be able to tackle some of the problems.
  • Saying ‘no’ when needed: Saying no can be rude but sometimes it is good to say no. Especially when you are unable to fulfill somebody’s need. For example, if you have important work at home and if your colleagues ask you for dinner, then it is better to say a polite no. As you need to be at your home. If not, you will be inviting problems. 

Well to solve problems one needs to think rationally and working accordingly. But if you think the situation is baffling and you can’t divide your attention then it is better to prefer the one with the highest priority. This is indeed the best ways to deal with problems

HOW NOT TO PROCRASTINATE AND DEAL WITH TIME

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Strengths – We all are born with one or the other strength- all we need to do is discover it and nurture it for your betterment.

In my childhood, I was the laziest person I could say. People underestimated my own strengths which they neglected. When I started my job, again it was crucial for me to manage my time to handle everything from a job to home. Time swept by and it was time for much more responsibilities. This is when I realized I need to find time for many more things to do. With two kids, I was literally hanging on the minute hand of the clock to manage my time. At times I even wondered if I could grab much more time – but 24hours remained just 24 hours with no more or no less.

It was time – that I wanted to manage and yes I found ways to handle it in a much more effective way.  Here I am sharing with you the tips that have worked out and helping me do my things correctly.

  1. Do not panic: Most of us tend to lose time, panic a lot. Panicking is not the key to managing. Hence it is important not to panic even when we are unable to manage. Usually the times I ended up panicking, I lost track of everything I was doing and had to begin everything from scratch.
  2. Be Prepared: As the famous saying “Time and tide wait for no man ” – It is important to engrain in our thoughts that nothing waits for us. Hence it is important to harness ourselves before the tide arrives. Like if you are planning to cook something in the morning for kids lunch boxes, pre-plan everything like cutting vegetables or grating or keeping things ready that can save your time. Mornings can be quite tricky at times and trust me I have gone through all the worst part before I arrived at the good one.
  3. Let go:  Keep in mind that you cannot control time. Learn to flow with it, which is the best way to handle time. At times we might lose the grip of it, then learn to let it go. One way you won’t repent over the loss of that time and then get back to your tasks or routine.
  4. Plan Plan and Plan: This is the only thing that helps you manage your time. Like usually when it is Sunday, I can always choose to take a rest and chill, but most of the time I choose to plan my things for the week like preparing the batter for the whole week, that will make my breakfast planning instant- otherwise I end up browsing quick recipes. Even all the washing clothes and arranging the week’s uniforms for my kids are also planned ahead. I guess most parents do it.
  5. Be an early person: Nothing keeps you organized than being early, which gives you plenty of options to change your plans. Sometimes, I plan things and at times, I am left with no option to do it but try something else in its place. In such cases to buy time, it is important that we are quite ahead of the time.
  6. Multitasking: This is something that I feel buys me much more time to relax. Whenever I am in the kitchen cooking, I put the clothes to wash in the machine and once I am done with my kitchen work, I will be done with washing too. In this way, I get much more time to spend with my family or find some “Me -time “. It might not be easy to multi-task at times, but yes it’s worth trying. 
  7. Take rest, when exhausted: A break is much more needed for anyone. Do not strain yourself, but ensure you do things correctly. Most of us take up all the things together and then finally end up doing nothing. Hence it is important to find time and take proper breaks at regular intervals.

Tips might not work all the time, but there is always a way to nurture it into your lifestyle. I included these in my lifestyle and customized them according to my needs. All this comes with lots of patience and practice. It might not look easy at first, but gradually we become accustomed to it as a habit.

Try not to procrastinate on your tasks, which will lead you to deal with a bulk of it later.

So these are some tips, o f a busy working mother, of two kids, who have to manage time like a pro. I might not be a pro, but I do my best to be one.

So folks – Never lose hope, just gear on!!!

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR TEENAGER

It has been long said that teenage is a phase of stress and turmoil. Skip a few generations back. When one transitioned from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood, was scarcely demarcated. It just happened! That’s all that was known. Also, with lack of technological advancements and a dearth of understanding into the human psyche at various phases, there wasn’t any specific attention devoted to different stages of development, except for infancy.

However, the situation is different today. Each individual is more aware of his/her rights, self-esteem and choices. Speaking of today’s teenagers – they are way smarter and well-informed than many of us can think of.

So then, how do parents and caregivers handle teenagers?

1. Your teen may be better informed, but you remain the boss. Do not pass on control into your teen’s hands. How then should you retain control? While parents need to encourage their teens to participate in important decisions involving their own lives and that of the family, they need to reserve the final word for themselves. This is how your teenager would learn to have a say while accepting parental authority. Also, make sure that parents voice the same tone before teens, irrespective of their differences so that your smart teen doesn’t get the space to play games.

2. Do not give in to emotional blackmailing. This is something that needs to be nipped in the bud at childhood, when your child throws tantrums and makes you dance to his/her music. However, teenage emotional blackmailing is a bit different. That’s because teens don’t simply sulk when things are not done their way. They can resort to quite disturbing tactics – like refusing to eat for days together, refusing to go to school/college, getting into disruptive activities with friends, playing ear-blasting music, threatening to commit suicide, and the like. While all these are alarming, none of these should bring you down to your knees. Most importantly, do not lose your emotional balance. Take care that you do not slip into bouts of depression, panic attacks or spells of anxiety, because some teens can be quite a handful and drive you crazy!

3. Always keep communication lines open. Teenagers do not run to parents to get their shirts buttoned or to get their shoe laces tied or to get their tears wiped after hurting their elbows at play, as they did as children. With age and development, they become self-reliant in many aspects of their lives. This is something parents need to accept. However, this does not mean that it’s time for parents to start fading away from the lives of their children. Your children remain your children even when they go on to have children of their own. What is to be understood is that, you need to give your teen the space s/he needs and yet be open for all types of conversations at all times. Do not get antagonistic if your teen shares with you about a boyfriend or girlfriend or confesses a blunder that s/he has committed or asks you questions about sex. If you do so, you will shut a doorway into your teen’s life and cause outsiders to actively intrude in. Respond wisely and calmly.

4. Be role models. While no one is and can be perfect while in this mortal life, it is of utmost importance that parents model a family that they would want their teen to have in future. If your teen sees you drink, then your endless sermons on ‘Don’t drink’ would serve no purpose. If your teenage boy sees his father speaking roughly to his mother or resorting to physical abuse, these traits get unconsciously implanted into his psyche and are likely to surface in later years when he gets married. If your teenage girl sees her mother spending money thoughtlessly, she doesn’t learn to manage money wisely. Be the person that you want your teen to be in thoughts, speech and action. 

5. Commit your teenager into God’s care. Though I am writing this point at the last, I won’t frame it as ‘last but not the least’. Rather, I would put it as ‘first and foremost’. Yes, first and foremost put your teen into God’s hands daily. You cannot be with your teen everywhere all the time. You cannot be a nagging parent prescribing dos and don’ts always. Your teen will commit his/her share of mistakes and will have to face certain consequences which you may find hard to bear. But then, experience is a strong teacher! You need to permit your teen to develop a certain sense of independence and responsibility as s/he grows. You need to have your teen be a person of good character, sound personality and wise choices. And so, you need to commit your teen into the hands of Him who has given him/her life and breath. God alone can mould people from the inside out. He is more concerned about your teen than you. So, each moment commit your teen into God’s hands – for protection, for health, for strength to resist temptations, for studies and career and for prudent choices. You’ll see how He would work wonders!

Accept the fact that your teen is not like you and may not necessarily become like you. S/he is an individual in his/her own right. Maybe you transitioned smoothly across life’s varying phases, while your teen wrecks havoc each day. Look for reasons, but do not blame yourself without reason. Look for ways to manoeuvre yourself and your teen wisely while keeping your calm.

While handling each teenager requires specific strategies that may be case-specific, what I have enlisted in this article entails certain general points that apply to all teens. An equation to sum up: HANDLING TEENAGERS = LOVE + DISCIPLINE + REASONING

Hope this ‘how-to’ article comes of help to parents in this ‘how-to’ week in Candles Online!