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 COULD CARE LESS!

So what is the “Lok kya kahenge” or “What will people think” thought process?

It is basically a phrase which underestimates one’s ability (not necessarily imposed by society always but more originating from one’s lack of confidence) It does NOT allow us to do what we want to do.

It is a given fact, whatever we have to do – will never be of someone else’s taste, more so if it is not to their liking – but what I haven’t understood until now is – Why would such a feeling come to a person in the first place? Is it just the way we are brought up – the Indian mentality, lack of confidence or simply something we blindly follow?

The millennial rarely care on what people would think of their actions – they like it – they go for it, they wouldn’t seek advice before taking something new up – and if you ask me. THAT IS THE WAY TO GO ABOUT LIFE.

I’ve had many an argument with my dad about this subject, so writing about it here (as the topic for the week) gives me immense pleasure! I wouldn’t know if a condition like this exists in any other country, but in India – WoW! You’d have to actually meet people to know how many dreams have been crushed and ambitions squashed just with the the mentality of What Will People Think!? Be it your job, marriage or anything else, people in India care way too much about… you know what!

If I have to stand up and address a large gathering and ask the question: How many of you lead compromised lives because of the “What will people say” syndrome?

I’m sure, each and everyone’s hands would be up, because in whichever small or big way, we have all compromised on something, and that’s how an average Indian has lived and continues to live their life.

If you ought to do something, I’ll say – do it openly, and if it embarrasses you, don’t do it – SIMPLE! but to not do something just because of others – That’s NOT acceptable at all.

So the automatic next question to then ask is: Why do we let people’s opinions affect us so much?

No two people think alike and like I said earlier, no matter what we do, it is never going to be appreciated or complimented other than members of your family (that too is a big ? nowadays-but I’m gonna go with ‘Family wants the best for us’ thought)

  • I am already 30 and unmarried, log kya kahenge?
  • I’m better off being single, but will society judge me?
  • I don’t have a regular 9-5 job, I work from home – what will people think? No girl will want to marry me. 
  • I want to drop out of school and pursue my dream of becoming a YouTuber, but what will people say?

If someone comes to me and I have to advice them on being anti-people thinking, I’ll have to simply say

“Why do you care? Do your thing, after all people aren’t feeding you” but that apparently isn’t what most people want to hear. They need you to break it down for them further. Let me see if I can do that for you – 5 pointers

  1. If you do not want people judging you, you got to stop doing that yourself first. I know its default setting, but have you heard of a starting over – YES, we can all do that.
  2. We need to take care of our self a little from time to time – its healthy practice.
  3. Something I personally do (and you should really try out) Imagine the worst case scenario, however that said – do not alter what you’ve set out to do, do it anyway!
  4. Nobody knows you as better as yourself, so how does the opinion of another even matter?
  5. No harm listening, but keep at what you’re doing. People will get the message eventually.

A person who knows what he wants in life and goes about getting things done (at his own speed) is respected. No one wants to be-friend someone who themselves do not know what their next step is going to be.

Of course it all starts with YOU. So are you willing to let go of the ‘thought’? YOU and only YOU matter, besides everyone is entitled to his/her opinion – no one can stop from mouths wagging.

If after reading this, you find yourself wiser by a percent or two – I think my job HERE is done – else…..

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Life is a game after all, all we constantly need to up our game.

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

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

Questions are imperative in human life. It is the questions of the human mind that instigates him towards the meaning and the purpose of life and defines the why behind its twists and turns. Questions are either raised by an individual or in reference to an individual. Behind every question, there is a Questioner! Ravi Zacharias in his recent book “THE LOGIC OF GOD” says, “The convergence of intellectual and existential struggles drives a person to a brutal honesty in the questions he or she has.”

One among the biggest questions of human life – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?” Like every other question of human life, this question is always in reference to a human struggle. Because we question only when life’s millstone burdens us. As a matter of fact, since my childhood, I have been frequently juggled and altered by this question – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? 

When I was a kid, I complained – “No one understands my choices.”

When I was a teen boy, I was hurt – “Why should I be like him? I am who I am!”

When I was in the twenties, I argued – “Why should I do that? It’s my life-my choice.”

When I turned thirty, I find myself – “Being misunderstood and misinterpreted.”

Towards the end half of 2018, there were some family issues and when I had to raise my voice to sort-out the misunderstanding between my family members, I was misunderstood being partial. In the meanwhile, I find one of my best friends going wrong in quite a handful of matters, as I attempt to correct my friend, again I was misunderstood being unfriendly, arrogant and bossy. Being too sensitive to relationships, being misunderstood and alone in four walls created havoc on my mind. The only question that distorted the peace of my mind is – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”. Why no one takes time to understand me or questions me – why do you think so? All that everyone thinks – BLAME HIM! 

Often in professional life, we are asked to keep the personal worries outside the office door but that’s someway too difficult. One individual life with two parts – the Personal and the Professional has enough possibility to tilt.

Each individual’s existence is caused and causes “Relationships”. Relationships is not the presence of one individual rather it exists between two individuals completely different from one another decide to come together and form a relationship irrespective of their differences. The presence of differences in the possibility of confusion and misunderstanding. But these misunderstanding is NOT MEANT to the breaking of relationship rather IT IS TO educate and enhance the relationship. 

BEING MISUNDERSTOOD and QUESTIONED BY SELF – 

“WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”, IS APPARENT! 

DO I KNOW MYSELF? – How about that! 

Flipping the pages of history, wise King Solomon was garlanded with WISDOM, POWER, WEALTH & GLORY. Materially speaking there is nothing that he lacks in his life. But at the end of his life’s journey, he concludes: “I put my hands into all that my mind found good. I acquired everything I desired. I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is chasing after the wind. Everything is meaningless”. The question remains – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

In my imaginative visit to the potter’s house, I saw the potter’s house is filled with varieties of clay pots. 

I: Who designed all these clay pots? 

Potter: “I”!

I: Where did you got the pictures to design these pots?

Potter: Their pictures were in my mind and I designed them accordingly.

I: Why each of them is entirely of different shapes and size. 

Potter: Because each of them is made for a different purpose.

I: Can this small flower vase be used to store water?

Potter: No, it cannot be. It is meant to give home to the flower plant.

I: Can your vessel explain why it is made?

Potter: Nope. Does it know how long it will exist? Where it will be tomorrow?

Potter: But I know where it will be tomorrow and How it will be used and What will be its worth.

The Bible says, You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.”  – this is the message of the Lord.

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? – The Potter has the answer.

How about asking HIM?