GOOD LUCK . . . FOR THIS EXAM!

Whenever my husband is really stressed he gets different versions of this dream . . .
It’s his school final exam . . . He is late . . .  And try as he might he is not able to reach on time…

Or he reaches the venue and realises that he has prepared for a different subject and exam is of a different subject…

The most hilarious one is that he has prepared himself completely to cheat in the exam but in the examination hall he cannot find the parchees (the small chits of paper used for copying). Next day morning we have a hearty laugh on the struggles he faced in his dreams. This way or that he says my struggle with exams is not getting over even decades after I have given my last exam.

There is another one . . . If everything goes well the question paper is out of syllabus.
I believe it’s the same with life. It’s an exam but the syllabus is not provided so the questions are always out of syllabus and we have to use our thoughts and experiences to ace it.

Another quote that Google gave me and I completely agree with is –
Life is the most difficult exam..
Many people fail because they try to copy others
Not realising that everyone has a different question paper..
Yes we all are giving a different exam, fighting mini battles at different fronts. Winning some and getting wounded by some. That’s how life is!

I once commented to someone that my life is pretty ordinary nothing extraordinary in it. Its like a straight path. I had this fairy tale notion that it should be like a wave with crests and troughs. Of course at that time I had been thinking only about the highs and not the lows. And life took my words literally with only a minor change. My wave began with trough rather than crest and I hit rock bottom. About two and a half years ago my husband lost his job and that taken for granted salary at the end of each month suddenly vanished. Since then it’s the biggest exam we have ever faced as a couple. During this time we have had many new experiences – struggling to keep a business afloat, looking for a job, fallout with friends, worrying about the big expenses cropping up suddenly in life. I was not prepared for this at all. I have led a rather sheltered life till now. Worrying about money was never on my agenda. Okay, we were not millionaires but there was enough to go buy. Looking at others I used to despair. Why am I facing these hardships while others are enjoying? (looking at your FB newsfeed its very easy to assume that everyone is having a gala time in their life). 

It took me some time to come out of my self-pity but then I realised that its not only me; each and every one of us is giving an exam. Only his or her question paper is different. They may not be struggling in the areas as us, but they are surely fighting the battle on a different front.

These exams / struggles / troughs do change you. I think I am a more confident person now. Gone is that scared girl who used to turn to her father and now her husband at the first sign of problem. I think I can handle things better. Even though the peak of my crest is a long long way away. I really think that at least the ascent has begun.

Wishing Good Luck to everyone for this exam…

P.S. : Since we are on the topic of exams just wanted to share that we as a family are entering that crucial year when both my children would be facing a Board exam at the end of the coming year. And all of us who are familiar with the Indian education system know how stressful it can be. So, keep my kiddos in your prayers and send your good wishes.

LIFE IS LIKE AN EXAM – THEN WHY MANY FAIL?

Let us first understand – why life is an exam?

Is it really an Exam?

Who is judging you?

Do you have any say on this?

It is true that life is challenging, but we all have different challenges to deal with. I might not be dealing with what you have, neither you will be dealing with what I have to. We all have varying hurdles to live through our daily routine.

We all tend to overlook into others lives, and make our life much more challenging by complaining about what we lack, ignoring what we already possess.

So why do we fail in the exam called life? Ever thought on the same?

There are several reasons, why we fail in life :

  1. We all are scared of failing.
  2. We listen more to others than our innermost desires.
  3. We compare ourselves with the better, assuming that we are just nothing.
  4. We just want to be a copy of others, than being different.

Being Scared of Failing 

If we try, then only we can decide, whether it is fun or not. Without even trying, assuming things to be difficult is the first step of failure. Take life as a challenge that is when you will cherish every moment of it. Wade off the fear of failing and prepare yourself to experience a new you.

Have you ever seen a baby stopping to try to walk, upon falling several times?

It is simply because, the baby is not scared to walk, even when it might fall a couple of times. Success is not an easy thing to achieve.  Growing up, most of us have lost that inquisitiveness in life.

Turning Deaf to the innermost feelings

Taking advice from the wrong is going to lead you into much more trouble. We all tend to take advice from people who do not have a single knowledge of what we do. And finally, even when our heart desires a lot, we just break away from those innermost feelings.

Don’t you think that is the worst part of being in a challenge? 

If you want to make life challenging, challenge the people around you who are stuck in monotony and show them how life can be happier with a choice that glows your heart.

Comparison- The slow poison on life

Even though we all know that we have varied things, aims, desires, dreams, passion, lifestyle everything including habits, we still tend to compare.

Yes, Comparison kills the joy of life.

One may have, a luxurious life but may not be completely happy. At the same time, a poor one may not have the luxury but has a peaceful life. It is all about how you take things. Identifying what you actually need and what makes you sufficient is important.

The moment you realise that you are different from others and you chose to be different, then it is a grand success.

We all even must have encountered several instances wherein parents compare children with other children and forget that their own child possesses something unique. In such cases, the child loses its self-confidence and even fails at many things. Little do they realise that comparing the child to another one, is killing the joy in their life.

Let them be what they want.

We all are Copycats 

We all just try to be a copy of the one near us or known to us. We never try to even change a little bit, because we assume that , something that is being called perfect among us is an epitome to be followed.

Being different is a challenge.

Life throws different challenges to all, and we all try to copy, forgetting that we all have different question papers to solve.

As I was saying, 

Life is an interesting challenge to endure. Making every moment challenging is even much more fun.  The moment we push ourselves outside the glass wall of others’ expectations, we are going to make life interesting.

At least at one point of life,  choose to take up a challenge. It might change your perspective of life.

 

 

WHEN PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES COLLIDE

Many of us lead two lives – personal and professional. Our day is split between these two lives. The two sides of us are so intertwined that a problem with one without a doubt affects the other. Small disturbances like occasional fights with significant other, kids falling sick as well might affect us at work temporarily. Can something more severe in degree take away our concentration and dedication towards work? It might be the death of a family member, end of a friendship, breakup or a family member suffering from an illness like cancer. The answer to this mostly depends on whether or not we are passionate about what we do. If we are passionate, we won’t give up on the job but find a way to deal with it.

The last three years of my life had three negative moments which were very personal. The pain of those is still there in me, deep down. There are days at work when I am sitting at my desk with tears rolling down. During that time, I can hardly concentrate on whatever I am doing. I must agree that emotions can engulf us at any time. If the pain is unbearable, I walk up to the restroom, have personal time to cry out. It is very important to acknowledge but not resist the confrontation to our own feelings. It is better to let them out. Shed the tears, holding on to them could be counterproductive.

Some days are a little worse. Either I would have had a bad dream or wake up and feel very low. I pull myself out of the bed, walk up to my plants, water them, talk to them and sometimes I just break down before them. I know that unlike pets, plants cannot understand us, but there is no other soul who I can talk to. Such days when I cannot control my thoughts, I usually opt to take leave from work. It certainly helps to sort out the thoughts and return back to work with clearer self the day after. It would always help to take a break from work, not a long one, but a day or two does benefit us in many ways.

There is one more thing that really helped me over time. Disconnection from social media. It is better to have lesser distractions when we are already fighting to concentrate. Not only that, say, for example, you had a break-up. A few days later your ex posts a picture, is it really important to see that? I don’t really think so. Once we give up on someone or they give up on us, it is always better to let them go not just from life but from the radar of our attention. We don’t really need to spend our valuable time on someone who doesn’t really value us.

Most of the times I pulled it through but there was a time when I just could not deliver at work. I was feeling very guilty. At the same time, I did not think it was appropriate to talk to any of my colleague’s. I was struggling, literally, nothing was working. I could not read a design document or a requirement document to understand them. After some time, I thought it might be better for me to resign, sit at home and return back to work when I feel better. I walked up to my manager’s cabin to tell him to accept my resignation. I tried once, twice but I couldn’t do it, my inner voice was shouting at me to just do it. I finally gathered courage and told my manager the decision. He did not react much but listened to my problem with great interest. He said, “You know what, while I agree that you need a break, I do not agree that you need to resign. This weekend please sleep well, take good care of yourself and we shall talk on Monday”. In our next meeting, he said many encouraging words and gave me feedback which brought me back on track. That is when I understood he was observing me. Our managers/supervisors are not always our go-to people, but they have the right to know why we have been under performing. A good leader would show the right path, so, it is always better to talk to them. We have to be careful about how much we let them into our personal territory.

While on the personal front things weren’t good, things weren’t great at work either. No person used to talk to me (I was new in the team). People had their own doubts on me. Every design of mine was going through several levels of scrutiny. My ideas weren’t even seconded by another person. The problems I raised were unheard. There was neither recognition nor a word of encouragement. I had been through a lot to prove what I am capable of.

From leading one crucial module in our product, two years down the line, today I am technically responsible for the entire platform we are creating for our new line of products. There is an onus on me to deliver. I work for a healthcare company, the first thing I see in the morning is a visual of a happy mother holding her newborn (Imagined visual). The joy in the moms’ eyes keeps me going, on and on. This is possible only because I am passionate about what I do. No matter what happens, how many people say that I should leave my job to get back to my family, my job brings satisfaction to me. I do not need another person to acknowledge how good I am, the added responsibilities at work speak for themselves!!

THE PRESSURE OF BEING NICE

 

So, this used to be my problem some time back. I was (hopefully) a people pleaser kind of a person who would go to any level of discomfort to make people happy. Who were these people? Family, friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers. Why did I do that? Was I seeking some sort of validation about me from these people? Or did doing so make me happy? Not really. I am not sure why this was the case – but the situation turned around for me a few months back. I hit the rock bottom at that time feeling worthless with complete lack of self-respect.

I cried, I threw things in anger, I kicked myself and I did a lot more for being such a jerk. I hated myself for not standing up for my own feelings. And then something happened. Something changed in me. I did something that I never did earlier – I replied back assertively (to my Mother in law). Then came a long period of a cold war which was torturous but I stood my ground. I decided that I will not go back to being who I was – if this relationship is important to her as well, she will have to initiate the talk this time. To my surprise, she did. She did that after a few weeks and things came back to normal. This made me realize that I just had to go through that period without giving in. Sometimes it is important to give an opportunity to others to be nice to you. This has always been difficult for me.

Something similar happened at work. In a meeting I was expected to say a “Yes” like I always do, but I stood my ground and said “No, I do not agree. With all my authority I will stay with my decision.” There was silence in the room for a few minutes and then people just looked at me and said ‘Ok’. And sky did not collapse that day. Work was as usual and this time thankfully nobody had to take a brunt of my decision.

Both these incidents were highly liberating for me. It was like the cap of the pressure cooker was released and my head became lighter and lighter with all steam rushing out of it. I realized that I just had so much time to be creative and think about myself when I do not have the pressure of being nice to all.

Another pressure that disturbs me a lot is the one of looking good. So, you see it is not just important for me to be good to others but also look good to others. Every time somebody would come and tell me that he/she lost a few kgs – the pressure would just double. It would triple itself when FB shows “see your memories” and I get to see the pics of myself from years ago. “Why the hell is it so difficult for me?” After climbing on that weighing machine for almost 5-6 times in a day – I would wonder what I am really doing wrong. And there was no answer ever. After trying out all known diets, workouts, supplements, homeopathy, Ayurveda meds – I was dejected.

Then one day I woke up and asked myself – what would change in my life if I would suddenly weigh about 15 kgs lesser than what I am now? I would be able to wear those jeans and skirts that are hiding inside the bed box. What else? People would come and compliment me. What else? That’s it. Really? That’s it. Just for these minute things I am taking so much pressure.

I am my own enemy when it comes to building pressure. I have done that since my school days. I always took hell lot of pressure of my studies when I could have just taken a chill pill – the world wouldn’t have fallen if I scored a few marks lesser.

Deadlines at work don’t make me feel pressurized. In fact it really excites me. Working without deadlines is rather boring. It is like swimming in an endless ocean of work. I like to swim and swim really fast when that finish line comes closer and closer. Working becomes really exciting when that release is on the horizon. And then the sense of achievement that follows the success. Nothing makes me more motivated at work.

I am learning to be nice to myself and not to take pressure of something that is unnecessary. I am trying not to take pressure and to speak my mind. I have learnt to respect myself before others. It is difficult, really difficult and many times I fall back to my old self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO USE SMARTPHONES?

What a wonderful week we had at Candles, didn’t we? And why not! After all, the topic for the week was Smartphones – close to each and everyone’s heart! Mostly everyone described how important smartphones are, right from waking you up in the morning till finding you a way if you are lost, shopping, staying in touch with friends and relatives, tips for cooking and parenting smartphones do just everything for you. On the other hand we did have Chiradeep and Sanskruti talk about how the smartphones have impacted them negatively.

Like every coin has two sides smartphones also come with advantages and disadvantages. Smartphones have certainly made life more convenient and easy and most of us cannot stop praising its worth. Having said that, it pops a question on my mind whether we are really smart enough to use smartphones?

I think no, we aren’t because we are getting addicted to it. We are over utilising smart phones. We are crossing the line of moderate usage of this gadget. Now it is a common scenario to spot people posing for selfies and chatting on phone even when they are with a group of friends or family. We are stepping into isolation because of smartphones.

Smartphones have replaced telephones, calculators, alarm clocks, recipe books, physical maps, cameras, audio and video players but smartphones can never replace human touch and emotions. A smartphone will not smile at you. A smartphone will never hug you. A smartphone will never hear your pain and a smartphone will never wipe your tears.

I am sharing a link to the video that moved me. Do watch it.

Let’s pledge to be smart enough to (understand when to stop to) use smartphone.

PRISONER OF MY SMARTPHONE

Although smartphones have contributed a lot to our lives but I think they affe our quality of life.

A few months back, I visited my cousin’s house and met his two year old daughter for the first time. Just like any other kid, she is a very sweet girl but one thing kept bugging me- her constant usage of her mother’s phone. The minute the phone is taken away from her, she starts crying. The building in which they reside has a lot of kids of her age and she is even friends with them but doesn’t really enjoy their company as much as she enjoys smartphones. When my cousin was back from office, she kept aside the phone and ran straight to her father; sadly not to greet him, but to reach for his phone. I vaguely remember, I had left my phone in the other room and I was catching up with my cousin, when she crawled into my lap and searched for my phone. As her search went in vain, she jumped out of my lap with a sigh.

Not only the above incident but I have also noticed how much I have changed with this little box. My parents gave me a phone after my 10th grade. Now when I look back, I would say I was better without one. I love writing stories, reading novels and going out for bicycle rides. I used to do them very often but after getting my phone, the frequency has been constantly decreasing. I write stories once a month that too I have to push myself for it. I have almost stopped reading novels and going out for bicycle rides. I waste my whole day watching pointless videos or scrolling through social media.

I am not that crazy about selfies and photography as compared to most of the people I am surrounded with. Last year, my school had taken us on a trip to an amusement park. My classmates were more interested in showing their online friends as to how much fun they were having on the rides whereas in reality, they were more concerned about the number of photographs they had posted.

I think it won’t be wrong to say that we are prisoners of our own smartphones. One doesn’t have to share every moment with hundreds of people because it’s more important to cherish the moment with the ones who are actually with us.

It’s time we put down our phones and make the most of our days.

“Disconnecting helps you connect and create more.” – Ann Makosinski
She said this in one of her talks as to why she doesn’t use a smartphone.

​MY SMARTPHONE SAYS – “DON’T BLAME ME”

Will it not be an injustice to blame a mere gadget?

We, 90’s born has experiences in both post – ‘Smartphone culture’ and ‘Pre-Smartphone culture’. None of us can deny the contributions of the Smartphones in our lives. There are numerous evidences of how our Smartphones had made our works easier and effective and on-time as well.

One of the scariest nights of my life was a night in October 2015. I was on a full-week official trip to some of the remote places of Odisha and all of my assigned places and contacts were completely stranger to me. The only option for me was WhatsApp or SMS to my new contacts when I arrive. It was 2 O’ clock in the midnight I got down from the bus in the midst of a jungle. I tried to call my contact to pick me but there was no network. It was my first visit to that place and that day there was curfew because of some communal riot. Military forces were on combat operation with Naxalites. My contact had no idea about me apart from my arrival time. I was all alone in the midst of a jungle in that dark night. There was no network, no street light, no people and that to in a red-light zone. Almost after half an hour of such struggle I found my contact person searching for me on his motorbike. He just asked me – “Are you Mr. Avinash?” Before I could reply him he said, “Sir, sit as quickly as possible.” After reaching his home he broke out the good news to me. He said, “Sir, praise God I found you immediately. If I would have been little late then either you were in CRPF custody or you would have been dead at a point-blank range.

This is one of the interesting stories from my travel diary. Since 8 years, being a person always on road, I stayed away from my family and hometown. It is not at all possible for me to depend on someone to do my work. Whether it is waking up early in the morning or communicating some important message to someone, I need my Smartphone at all cost! Though I and my elder sister are always miles away from our parents, every night our Smartphone makes it easier for all of us share our emotions and thoughts and even at times taking the family decision together by video conferencing. Miles away alone whenever I miss my friend I just Google Duo video chat and see the lovely face and rejuvenate myself.

Now, do you think this mere machine is going bad?

In this world, everything comes in a mixed bag. From Man to Machine everything comes with their strengths and weaknesses. Living in this paradox culture the choice is up to us! A machine is given in our hand, not we human beings in the hands of a machine! For the right kick to our life and for the smart using of our Smartphone Bible suggests us two metaphors –

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who Lacks SELF-CONTROL.”

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what COMES OUT of a person that defiles them.”

Think to be Smarter than your Smartphone!

Avinash