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.

Fear
(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!

I AM NO WAY IN THE CENTRE STAGE!

I am born to create
Not to destroy.
I exist to mend the broken
Not to break things down.
I live to help reconcile
Not to create dissension.
I am just a mediator
Not the protagonist.
If I sing, I’ll sing to comfort
Not be a rockstar.
This is my prayer to God –
“Never to make me an obstacle,
But a bridge to crossover.”

This poem I had written when I felt that I am taking the centre stage instead of allowing God to work. Many a time we tend to forget that we are just God’s instruments who are part of His massive orchestration. He has a plan for all of us to be used in a certain divine way and we need to play the part we are destined to. The moment we try and seek attention, we lose the focus and dissimilate in the air without any further trace of existence. A train has a certain specified track on which it has to run to reach its destination. The moment it derails from its track there’s chaos and destruction that are left for us to witness.

Yet, God honours our existence on this earth. He gives us everything that we require whether we deserve it or not. One passage from the Bible which always makes me so warm of God’s greatness and His compassion on our existence. How He valued and cared for us as precious when He created us and sustains us throughout our life.

“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Stay blessed!!!

THE PRESENT OF PRESENCE

Click . . . click click . . .
Click . . . click click . . .
Went my fingers on the mouse,
As I browsed to select the perfect bunch of roses for my aunt’s house.

A call in the morning to wish her a happy wedding anniversary,
And a bouquet of lovely flowers in the evening to end the day’s story,
Seemed the perfect greeting on my inventory,
In place of climbing up the stairs to their house on the third-storey.

All done, I was waiting for the thank-you call,
And praises for my thoughtfulness from one and all,
The happiness caused by a gesture small,
Would surely me a great deal enthrall!

‘Hello’ . . . said I at the very first ring,
Hoping that my aunt would in joy, dance and sing,
Expressing the pleasure that the flowers did bring,
Striking afresh love’s new melodious string.

Truly joyful were the couple with the bouquet in their hands,
As they resolved to forever with each other stand,
No matter if the days ahead were stormy or bland,
They would rejoice and make their lives a warm love land.

As happy as I was to hear the tinkle in their voices,
I remembered over the years their smart intelligent choices,
And lo came my aunt’s sweet enchanting voice,
‘Your selection was a good choice!

Thrilled we’d have been to see you at our door,
With those lovely flowers in your hand and nothing more,
To see you would have been a loving gesture of care,
That’s all we need in this old age nightmare!’

Stunned was I at the humble revelation,
Crashed down from heights of glory to the rock foundation,
Indeed the warm touch of a human hand,
Means so much more than gifts so grand!

WHEN I WAS BODY SHAMED AS A NEW MOM

It was my baby’s naming ceremony. I was all decked up in a pink zari (gold thread) sari, gold jewellery and a hairdo. The colour of the sari complemented the glow on my face. Yes, I was glowing after the delivery. Happy hormones may be! I was indeed so happy about the arrival of my bundle of joy that it showed on my face.

We had hosted the naming ceremony 2 months after the birth of my baby. So I was clearly a new mom then! I looked beautiful, I just knew that because I felt beautiful from within. When I arrived at the venue with the baby (purposely I waited at home till baby fell asleep and most of the family members including my husband had proceeded to the venue earlier in order to supervise the arrangements) my husband whispered in my ear that I was looking beautiful than ever! It made my day. It was the first time in so many months that someone said I looked good. Otherwise, all that I heard all through the pregnancy was that how I am going to become fatter or worse, have already become that!

I was greeting all the guests merrily and was answering their typical questions like whether the baby sleeps in the night, is he breastfed etc. Obviously, the men clan didn’t get into nitty grities of the baby, for most of them, it was just like exchanging pleasantries or casual greetings. However, a person (very close relative) took me by surprise when he exhibited the audacity to comment something about my body.

It so happened that my husband had lost quite some weight a little before our baby arrived and obviously my weight was increasing as the baby was growing inside me. Obviously, all the weight that I had gained through the nine months of pregnancy was not going to disappear in just 2 months. All of you would agree that the new mum certainly feels like a balloon post delivery. The bloating and at times swelling on the body is certainly visible for the first few months post delivery and my case was no different. And it didn’t matter to me really. So, this man asked me why my husband had lost weight and whether I can cook well. Obviously, he was pulling my leg. Maintaining the sense of humour, I promptly answered that it was my mother-in-law who was in charge of cooking so be assured that he was fed well. On a lighter note, I added that perhaps he lost weight because he has been staying away from me for long now (because I was at my mom’s place since the birth of our baby) and probably he is missing me too much. We shared a hearty laughter and I expected the discussion to end there. But to my utter surprise, this man had the guts to say, “Looks like he is having meals twice a day and you are having six times of day”

I was so annoyed with that comment but I kept my cool and replied firmly saying, “oh yes, I do! Sometimes I have even eight meals a day and I don’t care if I look fat or ugly because I have something more important to think about. I have to breastfeed my baby which nobody else can do” I purposely replied to him a little louder than normal because I wanted other guests to hear our conversation. The very mention of breastfeeding made this man a little embarrassed and he chose to end the discussion by just saying I was right.

I calmly moved ahead to greet other guests who silently witnessed my body shaming episode. Obviously, I didn’t expect any of them to step in for me. If there was somebody who could shut up that man, it was me and I did just that!

Yes, I looked fat that day because I WAS fat then. My breasts looked heavy. But, how a mom who has delivered a baby just a few days back supposed to look? I didn’t take his comments very seriously because I know that its only a woman who can grow a life within her, nurture it, tear herself apart to give birth yet stand on her feet within three days of delivery, carry litres of milk in her body and tirelessly feed the little one every two hours (or even sooner). No man, however, fit he may be, can do that ever. 

Most of the mums are body-shamed because of their bulging tummies or round body shape. But friends, do not let such experience boggle you. Stand up for yourself. While it is important to be physically fit, it is also important to give time for our bodies to settle down post delivery. Don’t get depressed with such comments or do not haste to get back your pre-pregnancy appearance. Understand that your body is doing a great job. Feel proud of yourself. Only then will you be able to curb the discouraging and stupid remarks society makes about your body.

Next time somebody body shames you, do not forget to give them a piece of your mind.

(Image Credit: https://deho.tv )