ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM “I AM SORRY” SYNDROME?

I invited a family to dinner at our place. The lady of the family brought home made cake for dessert.  But I forgot to serve the same and ended up serving a readymade sweet. And when they left I realised (actually was made to realise 😁) what a blunder I had committed. I should have served the cake too, its courtesy and etiquette. And then I was on my guilt trip. I texted her to seek forgiveness. Though she said she didn’t mind it at all, asked me to relax and chill, it’s been a long time now since we spoke to each other 😁 (she is busy with her examinations). What I did at the dinner was completely unintentional; being forgetful was my weakness rather than my mistake. But I pleaded.

And this isn’t the first time when I said ‘Sorry’ for something so trivial. I talk to my friends, relatives and out of no where after I finish my conversations I have a demon visiting me “Guilt” that makes me think, rethink – “did I utter something wrong to offend the person?”, “let’s say sorry before it’s too late” and I don’t relent from saying sorry. In fact I say ‘Sorry’ way too much.  I fear grudges and misunderstandings, hence I say sorry. So much so that I could possibly paint myself as nervous, weak or simply stupid.  If you have to choose a nickname for me “The Sorry Girl” would do just fine🤣🤣.

Too much of guilt or say “false” guilt for every non existing/ illogical/ trivial issue could be as dangerous as self medicating after surfing on Google for few apparent symptoms and assuming that you are suffering from a dreadful illness. Doctors are there for a reason, right? Don’t assume, for it could lead to side effects more effectively than yielding positive results. “Feeling Sorry” syndrome as I call it is something same as self medicating.  When you assume things and go on a guilt trip more often than not, you self deplete yourself. Extreme self consciousness so as to not to hurt anyone makes you go into a shell which equals to lower self esteem and confidence.  I have myself experienced the dilemma very often “shall I ask? Shall I say? Shall I tell?”.  Because I don’t want anyone to feel bad and me either as a consequence to my actions and words.  And this is where I hesitate to say NO (my false guilt of hurting someone being my constant companion).  But now I am slowly realising it isn’t worth it, at least not every situation requires irrelevant deep introspection that shows me as a insensitive human, oblivious to others feelings.

I am not against minding words and actions in advance for it reflects an educated mind. And to be conscious about how others may feel reflects your sensible side. But the question is how much is enough and what is unwanted.  Feelings like Regret, Guilt are as precious as Love and Care to be squandered away on unimportant things.  For instance: You got stuck in traffic irrespective of starting really early so you say sorry and move on. This is how it should be. But if you start analysing what the other person might think of you, how much business loss he might have incurred just because of your delay and start off meekly to please unnecessarily, this is something awkward and uncalled for. This hampers your personality, your image. And this is called false guilt. Your false guilt will let others take advantage of you, period.

Talk and move on! You feel you have done something wrong, talk about it to the concerned person, settle the matter there. Don’t let it linger on your mind for long. If the other person understands your explanation no worries. But if the other person is indifferent, it isn’t your fault, mind you. Remember you can’t please everyone. Then why burden your heart with “I don’t deserve them” tag. Why can’t it be the other way round?

Always remember:

  • Be cordial but not overtly submissive. There’s a huge difference.
  • Don’t nurse ego
  • Don’t be shy to say sorry when you feel you need to, you want to
  • Relationships are important but if you can’t value yourself relationships can’t be sane and equal.
  • Watch out words and actions before they are beyond your control.

GRUMBLY MUMBLY AND SIMPLY BUBBLY

Grumbly Mumbly and Simply Bubbly – as their names, so their natures – stark opposites!

Grumbly Mumbly (let’s call her GM) always wore a frown on her face. No matter how well cooked any dish was, there wasn’t enough salt to her taste! If the salt was just appropriate, the veggies or the meat in the dish weren’t tender enough! The maid scrubbed the floors of her house clean every day; still, GM didn’t find them sparkly enough and showered a mouthful on her! Her ten-year-old daughter stood first in the class with a remark of “Excellent” superscribed on the Report Card; still, GM’s brows twitched seeing a shortage of four marks from the aggregate and all along the way back she fussed at the deliberate evil schemes of the teachers! On one occasion GM went shopping for herself. Unfortunately, the store did not have the required size of the outfit that she had selected. Not only did she blacklist the store for herself, but also did not forget to give a fuming suggestion to the store Manager to shift the store to some nondescript town or village! Her husband gifted her a bunch of her favourite red roses on their wedding anniversary. She immediately inspected the bouquet and started kvetching about his lack of taste to have chosen pale half-blossomed partially dried roses!

No one ever liked being with GM, though she was skilled at many things. She greeted each smile with a scowl. Her constant mumblings sent all tumbling away from her. Her blood pressure remained high at all times. Migraine was her companion of many years. Stomach ulcers frequented her. Gradually, a host of psychosomatic ailments befriended her. GM was miserable! Nothing that anyone did or said ever satisfied her.

Simply Bubbly (let’s call her SB) moved into Grumbly Mumbly’s neighbourhood one fine afternoon. Every other neighbour cautioned her against GM’s scoffs and sneers. “All the best, if you ever crossroads with her”, they said. SB just laughed it away. “There isn’t a person who can rob your cheer unless you decide to trade it for a world load of fear”, she quipped. SB found joy in all things and people around her, even in the most challenging ones. Her bubbly nature was infectious. A couple of times, GM and SB did crossways. Each look of grimace that GM threw was met with a beaming smile from SB. When GM broke her ankle, none went to her aid. “She would find fault with anything that we do”, they said. Simply Bubbly was the only one who went up to GM’s doorsteps each day without fail. Day after day she went for the three whole months that GM was confined indoors. “Wait and watch till she’s back on her feet”, said all.

The day GM was to take her first steps outside, all peeped from their windows. There was GM leaning on to SB trying to take stable steps in the midst of the busy traffic! And what was that – a smile on GM’s face! That was her first smile that anyone had ever seen!

The next day, at a thanksgiving get-together, Grumbly Mumbly seemed all quiet. She didn’t mind the loud chatter or the endless clatter of dishes. The music which would have either been too loud or too low on previous occasions didn’t bother her much. Seated at the centre wearing a faint smile, she said, “I’ve learnt to let go – to let go of the imperfections that drain my energy, and to appreciate all things around me. My quest for improvement would never end, but the snoots would never come back.”

Profusely thanking Simply Bubbly for helping her deal with her insecurities and anxieties, GM declared that she would be working towards a makeover. Gradually, GM’s complaints gave way to appreciations and her frowns into charming smiles. Her distasteful mouthfuls were replaced by words of encouragement. The world which she had been seeing with dark shades became visible with bright brilliant sunshine.  

Often, it’s tough to drive home rational thinking to the Grumbly Mumblys around us. They seem to be perfectionists, but fail to accept the fact that their own personality needs tweaking. They seem to have justified arguments for all their grumblings. Leave the hardcore GMs. What about you and me? How many times have we grumbled over situations, people, our own selves? The scorching sun makes us grumble. A heavy downpour early in the morning makes us grumble. If the water is too hot for a bath, we start muttering. If the electricity supply goes off while we are in the middle of an assignment we start fuming. If a guest arrives too early, we grumble. If the guest arrives much later than the scheduled time of meeting we grumble.

While it is necessary to be disciplined and maintain certain principles in life, it is all the more essential to harbour the virtue of contentment, all the while acknowledging the transient nature of the world around us. Discontent leads to grumbling. Constant grumbling emits the foul smell of ones personality to those around and proves to be a powerful repellent. Its wise to choose not to be a Grumbly Mumbly. 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  – THE BIBLE

“Be grateful and you won’t grumble. Grumble and you won’t be grateful.” – Billy Graham

THE GOSSIPS AROUND A YOUNG GIRL

As an IT Professional either you work as a team lead or work under a team leader. As far as my knowledge is concerned you lead a team. Probably you are a wonderful leader. Every time you work among people or with people. And when there are people, there are gossips and rumours. Some are lies, some are true yet hurtful. Have you ever heard your teammates talking against you? How do you react to the gossips and rumours that go on against you? Do they help you develop yourself or demoralize you? Do those pinching words and statements make your life miserable or they benefit you to rectify yourself for a better you?

This is the problem statement given to me by my leader in Candles Online and I think he knows me really well to ask me this question. I can write a book on this topic but I think I would end up sounding as a victim if I do so. This topic really touches a sensitive nerve and I can only share limited information because this is a public platform and people reading this article know me and probably work or have worked with me. If I wrote this as an anonymous, I would have revealed a lot of secrets than I do now.

I was 20 days away from my 22nd birthday when I joined the corporate life. It was right after my B.Tech that I joined an MNC (US based) and was new to Bangalore. I was a super-excited kid then, high on ambitions and a little bit careless and immature. Little did I know then that I was embarking a journey that will define me and my personality!

I joined a team which was male-dominated – in a team of 30 people we were only 4 women. And 2 of us were from the same college joining together. Other two were quite high in experience. Rest of the team was full of men in their mid to late 20s or even mid-30s. Well, initially it was all good. I loved being a part of this team. It was just perfect. Everybody was super helpful and they made me a part of this family in no time. I thought I made some great friends but I was not aware of the fact that friends made at the workplace are usually just meant for work.

Within 6 months of joining I was given a raise because I did some good work. But along with that I also got a shock of my life. It was apparent that people recognized my talent but sometimes I felt that I was being given too much importance because of that. Then one day I heard a lot of people laughing and gossiping in the next cubicle. Curious as I was, I peeped in to know what the joke was. By then the guys were quite comfortable in my company – so they said: “we are not able to decide whether to hire the green girl or the red one”. I was confused. “What do you mean?” I asked them. None of them said anything and walked away. I was curious so I poked a guy who had become a good friend by then. He said “Interviews are being conducted for further hiring. They were joking whether they should hire the girl in the green suit or red top.” I was shocked. “What? How does that even matter? How capable are those girls?” I asked. “How does it matter? Whoever is the prettiest will get picked?” He laughed. I almost missed a beat and not only that my shock was quite apparent on my face. He got it and said “Oh, don’t worry. Everybody is aware of your talent now.” “What do you mean ‘now’? Tell me what criteria was I hired on?” I almost shouted thinking hard what I wore on during my interviews. He hesitated and then said “Ok, if you really want to know. You didn’t do very well. You got most of it only partially right.” I was crying inside and trying very hard to not let it show. “Well, were there other ‘guys’ who did better than me?” He smirked, “Yes, from your college only.”

I remember this incident very well. Because that was the first ever shock I got in my corporate life. I thought everything was perfect and I had landed in a perfect place, a perfect team. What, I was hired to look pretty? My first reaction was to just resign but sanity took better off me and I decided to continue just to prove that I am rather talented and much more than most of them. So I became competitive, a bit too much maybe. That really went in my favour but all the while there was a sulking negativity inside me.

This same guy who had revealed this information to me, later on, went on to propose me for marriage. I refused since I was not in a state of mind to think about it. C’mon I was just 23. He got engaged quite soon in an arranged manner but for a long time, other teammates believed that I was heartbroken and sad because of his marriage. I continued to get a lot of attention in this area which I simply hated. Why did they want to interfere in my personal life? I can never understand. These rumours really irritated me to the extent that I completely cut off from this colleague with all personal aspects.

There is one more incident that stands out. I got a chance to visit the US in 2007 just a year after I joined. It was for a specific project and I was super excited. I had to travel with 3 other colleagues of mine. None of them was really good friends of mine. I was a very open and friendly person. I was a kid who used to speak her mind. I never really cared at that point of time “What would people think of me?” So the first weekend in the US, I asked these guys out for a swimming session. I was very excited because the hotel had a heated pool and the idea was too exhilarating for me as I love swimming. One of the guys agreed to join me. As a result, we met at the agreed time and I changed into my swimming costume and we had a good one hour of swimming which was very relaxing yet tiring.

Next day when I went to work, I got a ping from a colleague who was in India. And he asked me “How my swimming session was?” I was surprised. How did this news even travel thousands of miles? Was it a big deal? Well yes, it was. Apparently, every detail of that one hour was discussed which included the details of my swimming costume as well. Trust me, I really devastated after listening to all this. It was horrible. I felt so lonely in that country that I gave up the idea of studying abroad and working there. All I wanted was to come back home and be with my people. Well, it wasn’t possible then. I was there on a 3-month project, so I decided to confront these guys. I did but it just ended up in a fight and a bad argument.

Yes, I am an open-minded girl. I like to dress up. I like to party and all. But how does that ever mean that I am seeking attention or I am ‘easy and available’. Well, that was what my image became after a few years of working in that team. I was linked with a lot of men even after I was married. I hate to remember that time. I have only recited a couple of incidents but those few years that I worked there – it was really bad. Sad as it is, I was not aware of any harassment at workplace policy neither did I take pains to figure those out.

Once I even heard a horrible comment passed for a girl who worked with us for a very short duration before she was fired. She was extremely pretty and was fired because she was extremely poor in her performance. The comment that was passed for her was – “Why did they have to fire her? All she had to do was to kiss each one of us every day. That would be enough for us.” I was flabbergasted when I heard this. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak and retaliate. The only thought that ran again and again in my head was “Am I also talked about the same way?” Well, that comment was made in front of me without being scared of me. Why did I let that happen? I still don’t know. I probably lacked courage in letting such men know how they are supposed to behave. And because of that, I ended up being a victim.

I should have stood up for what I felt was wrong and insulting. Instead, I tried to be “cool girl” who doesn’t care. I should have spoken about it and took help from authorities to rectify so much that was wrong. Instead, I just stayed silent and tolerated. I took these guys to be my friends, believed them to be my own people when I constantly felt insulted by them. There was constant fear that kept growing, that fear was of being judged for every choice that I make. Choice of picking up what to wear each morning to the choice of laughing at somebody’s joke, choice of trying to be one of them and choice of talking to them and those multiple choices that I made during those years. One fine day when I decided to quit, everything ended just like that.

When I joined the new place, I decided that I want to be known for my work and not for anything else. It has been almost 5 years since that era ended and I lead a team now. I believe I am known for my work and I think I am happy with the way I have proven myself (to me). I made some strong rules when I joined this organization.

  1. No friends (especially male)
  2. No nonsense. Just talk work and come home
  3. Work super hard. Keep the focus always on work
  4. No extra-curricular. Earlier I used to participate in dance competitions, sports competitions and other such stuff.
  5. Always remember what you are being paid for and how you are returning back to the organization.
  6. Follow your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable – speak up and loud.

My current organization has a good male to female ratio, so that really helps. Although, it was a horrible time that I went through in my first organization – I have become a much better and matured person since then. Every incident helps us to grow. Every person who comes in your life comes to teach you something. I have been through counselling and therapy sessions to get over the impact of all those years. It took time to rebuild my confidence and become who I am today. So, today I do not hold any grudges to any of the people I came across earlier.

I hope I answered your question well, Charlie!

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Prerna

First of all, I would like to say, this idea of answering the questionnaire was quite unexpected. For me, it came as a surprise. When I came to know about this idea, I was like let’s see whose questionnaire comes into my account. So, I got Kalpana’s questionnaire. However, none of us knew whose questionnaire we will have and who’s going to have ours. But I am really happy with what I got.

1. Is there another side to you, whom we can only dream to know?

Well all of us have our private life. This private life is not shared with anybody. To world I am an outspoken, intimidating and bold person. My image is of a straightforward and I get to hear so many times that my attitude is harsh.

But only a few know how empathic and emotional I am. It really disturbs me to see any human or any animal in pain. I feel as if I am going through the pain. Every time I see people or animals in pain, the only question to the Almighty is, “Why can’t you take away their miseries?”

I like keeping this side of mine hidden. Only few can know but now I have answered this question and so it is no longer hidden.

2. The proudest moment of your life?

Actually, I am still waiting for it, I guess. There were some moments when I was proud. Recently, it was when I came to know, a guy started to write after getting inspired by my writings. And this really means a lot to me. 

3. Have you ever regretted helping someone, I mean anyone whom you realized later isn’t worthy of your time?

Yes, I did. Not once but several times. As I said, I am empathic and so I help those who are in need of help in every possible way. But it’s not necessary others will be like us. Initially, I do whatever I can do for the person who needs help. Eventually, I get to know the one whom I helped wasn’t worth it. It makes me sad at first but then I realize, not everyone is intended to stay in our life. 

4. If not present profession you are in, then what you would have been?

This question is really interesting. And I like it the most. During our childhood, all of us thought about being whatever seemed exciting and interesting to us. Well, I genuinely wanted to pursue law as my career but due to some circumstances, I couldn’t. Although I am fine with what I have now but I wanted to be a lawyer. 

Interestingly, when I was in my teenage, I wanted to be a student at Hogwarts- The school of witchcraft and wizardry (according to the famous Harry Potter series). Even now, when I am a grown-up, I still wish for the same. I know it’s fictional but I wish it was true. 

5. Your greatest weapon/trick up your sleeve that never fails you, whatever you do?

I think it’s my confidence and my fearlessness. These two behaviours of mine have always helped me in achieving what I truly wish for. Whenever I feel, I have no choice but to give my best, then my confidence and fearlessness never lets me down. 

6. If you are given a chance to change one thing about yourself, what it would be?

Actually, I love myself the way I am. I always have had pampered myself and loved all my flaws. I believe, my flaws are the most beautiful in me. Through my flaws, I get a feeling that I am strong and determined. So, I am not going to make any changes in my physique or appearance but yes if there really is a chance, I would like to change my impulsive attitude. I would change it into a very calm and serene attitude. 

7. Your Inspiration to write?

The credit for my inspiration to write goes to my urge to express my thoughts. I can never walk to a person and speak my heart. This is because I am a reserved person when it comes to expressing feelings. Only few can know and those few may or may not be always with me. Therefore I thought the best way to express is to write what I feel. Moreover, I loved reading, so it also counts to the inspiration. 

8. Intelligence (smartness) or honesty that could land you in soup- what’s your pick?

I would go for intelligence. An intelligent person is the one who can win over any situation. Intelligence always attracts me and I consider it to be the most prized possession. 

9. What is your biggest regret in life?

I think everybody has some regrets in their life. So do me. The biggest regret that I have is not one but two. The first regret that I have is: I had a pet named Bruno. Bruno was a small and an adorable puppy. To me, he was like a bundle of joy. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t stop myself from holding that little being into my arms. I used to cuddle him and together we would muffle in my blanket. One day, after feeding him I went on to the washroom without knowing that the door was open. Bruno went out and met with an accident. The poor being was slowly and excruciatingly moving towards death. All I could do was cry bitterly and pray for his painless and easy death. Had I been a bit cautious, my pet would have been with me. 

The second one is: It was the time when I was moving to a hostel for the first time. I hugged my parents and my brother before going. My grandmother was also there. She handed me a little bag full of some fruits and the snacks that she made for me. I touched her feet and took her blessing. I wanted to hug her but I don’t know why I didn’t. This was the last time I saw her alive. She died 22 days later due to cancer. This shook me and till today I feel sorry for not hugging her one last time. I could have told her, how much I love her and what does she means to me. But I didn’t. 

10. Which lane of time you want to visit and stay there forever?

Life is all about moving along with the time. It is not wise to hold on to our past no matter how beautiful it was. There were many beautiful phases in my life to which I am really very thankful, as well as there are many more to come. Also, we should look forward to what’s next. Therefore, instead of wishing to visit a lane of time and staying there forever, I would choose to wait for upcoming moments. However, sometimes I imagine how good it would it be to look at my writings and relive these days.

Thanks, Kalpana, your questions were really brain-storming. Though unintentionally but you succeeded in knowing my secrets. During answering these questions, I really felt like being in an interview. This was so nice.