A Way of Life

I came across a video on Facebook that gave me reason to pause and think. It was a commencement speech by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now, you can agree to disagree but we all know that Mr. Trudeau is the gift that keeps on giving. What struck me however, was how his speech was a departure from precedent. He did not ask the graduating class, which is all set to venture out on its own into the big, bad world, to go out and make it big, to do great things or to become big names. No, what he advised them was to do small things in a big way.

To elaborate, he told them to donate an extra ten bucks to their favourite charity, to send a bouquet of flowers to their mothers on a day other than Mother’s Day, to strike a conversation with someone who looks completely different from them, to switch their cars with a bicycle when the son’s down. Just very small, presumably inconsequential things. Yet, he stressed on how that donation might enable a young girl to study, how that bouquet might make a mother’s entire week, how that bicycle might just save the environment. 

I know what he said is not something completely new, but we forget to see how it can be a very nice way of life. It is true that in our quest to achieve as much as we can as fast as we can, we tend to lose track of the things that actually matter. 

It’s the small things. It’s the meaningful things. It’s the unrecognisable, or rather the things that might not get you recognition, that leave a smile on your face at the end of the day. 

We all have somewhere to reach, and we’ll get there, eventually. Some sooner than others. Some a tad differently than others. Some might change tracks midway. Yet, whatever journey one chooses to embark on, it is imperative to remember that the journey in itself is an experience. It is, in fact, a destination in its own right. Let’s make it worthwhile so that we can grow while we’re still on our way. 

I will take your leave today by citing Murakami. 

Spend your money on the things money can buy. Spend your time on the things money cannot buy”

In our rat race of a life, lets do small things in a big way!

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on this so please share your views in the comments section down below.

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Of mountains and burdens

We’re six months into this year now. Phew! Time really does fly when you ain’t looking. I’ve been seeing a lot of people reviewing this time or putting up posts about what they’ve learnt during the first half of this year. This got me thinking. I recalled a little post I’d written in January and realised it would still be pertinent today. It is a piece of learning that is a continuous process so I thought of sharing it again with you all. It is a journey into self assessment with an empowering route to realising self worth. Please give it a read below.

Moonlighting Scrivener

“These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian

Who amongst us has not felt the weight of the world laying on our fragile shoulders? Oh Atlas, I wish you could see how many kindred souls you have!

It is time to jettison all the extra burden that we have self-imposed on ourselves. Yes, self-imposed. No, no, you heard me right.

I agree we live in a fiercely competitive dog eat dog world in present times. No one is spared from an ever present, all consuming pressure to perform. Right from toddlers participating in fancy dress competitions in pre-school, to high-school students scrambling to be popular and cool, to suicide attempts on failing entrance exams, to attaining promotions over all other colleagues, the list is endless. Expectations from parents, from the world, peer-pressure, everything demands of us to excel, to be beyondSuccessful. There…

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5 Life Hacks to Avert a Quarter-Life Crisis

25! The magical number. An age when you actually feel like a mature, responsible, adult. When you can even pay for all the parties your friends try to get out of you on your birthday.
Unfortunately, it’s also the time when you sit back and question all your life choices. The fact that all your peers seem to be racing ahead doesn’t help either. So, a normal pondering turns into a full blown panic attack stretching into a bout of stress and anxiety. You find that you’re not where you’d hoped to be by now. You also find that you’ve no clue where you want to be or What you want to do. Not even what’s best for you. Worst of all, you have no clue as to what you’re currently doing. From then on, it’s just a downward spiral into depression.

I was surprised to find out that there’s actually a term for this. The quarter-life crisis. No applause for guessing when I discovered it. (And yes, I was stupid enough to write a post on the ‘mid mid-life crisis‘ when I was 24, but we all make mistakes. I am a year older and, arguably, wiser now)

Thus, to help kindred souls, I’ve compiled a list of life hacks that are aimed at getting you through this tough period and keeping your thoughts in perspective. I hope it helps.

Here it goes:

  1. A Person- For all you Grey’s Anatomy fans, there’s no need to describe what having ‘a person’ or ‘your person’ means. For those oblivious to Shondaland, your person is that first human you turn to in all your times of need. When you’re happy, when you’re sad, when you’ve majorly messed up, when you need to be saved. There’s this one person who will take one look at you and know what’s up. There’s that one person who cbs decipher all your garbled, alcohol induced and distorted-by-tears words with unerring expertise. It can be a friend, a family-member or even a colleague. Identify who that person is for you, then put in an effort to divulge your worst fears. Talk to him or her about your life plans. Just discuss. It’ll not only make you feel lighter but I’ll also give you a much needed respite once you get it all out of you. Even the best of us have the tendency to bottle things up when it comes to our careers, dreams or aspirations and never reveal our worries to the closest people. So, talk to your person.
  2. Comfy PJ’s – No I’m not kidding, please hear me out. Anxiety and stress can make you lose sleep. Especially when nearing this age, your mind refuses to rest. Find a pair of comfortable pyjamas in which you can get a nice spell of sleep. Let it be a reminder of the fact that even if you don’t have anything sorted, it’s okay. You’re not supposed to. As long as you’re doing something, as long as you have a rough idea of what you like. Or, most importantly, you have a fair idea of what you don’t like and would much rather not be doing, you’re on the right track. So get your trust PJ’s and get a good night’s sleep. Life can be figured out tomorrow but now when you’re functioning only on a caffeine induced high.
  3. A Pair of Blinders – You know how horses and some more animals are outfitted with a pair of eyes patches that give them a tunnel vision? So that they don’t look right or left but move on straight ahead? Yes? Get a metaphorical pair of those for yourself. Don’t look at what others are doing. Don’t judge yourself by their standards. Don’t assess your progress by the pace they’re proceeding at. Do what you’re doing, diligently. Do not be affected by peers. One can never actually walk in another’s shoes. Our own are prickly enough. Stick to those. You never know what another is going through. But you sure can make your own life better by concentrating only on it. For a clearer understanding of this concept, read my previous post defining successes and failures and how to not let them define your worth. Because, these mountains that you’re carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
  4. A Full-Length Mirror – If you have a Full-Lenght Mirror at home, well and good. If not, I suggest you invest in one. Take out five minutes daily to look at yourself. No, I’m not trying to fan your vanity. Just take a good look at yourself. Take in all your battle scars, take in the glimmer of hope in your eyes, take in the look of determination in the set of your jaw. Take it all in and then breathe out. Deep. Look at yourself, accept yourself and then, maybe, love yourself. Give yourself a small pep talk everyday. You know you’re doing the best you can. Make sure you tell yourself that. If you really think you’re doing something you should or that you’re not doing enough, tell yourself that too. But what you shouldn’t do is undermine yourself. We’re already our own worst critics. Let’s not let that intimidate our faith in ourselves. So, look at yourself and let your confidence grow. Remember, you’re the only person who can set the roadmap and tracks on which your life will follow through.
  5. One Day of the Week- Set aside one day of the week to pamper yourself. Not the weekend but a work day. By pampering, I don’t mean our weekendly ritual of grooming. This is about pampering your confidence. Step out on that day with your best foot forward. Wake up early. Get dressed impeccably. Your best formals. Put on makeup or your best cologne or aftershave. Look your best. Have a healthy breakfast. I know it’s difficult to put in so much effort everyday when we’re trying​ to catch up on lost sleep or scrambling to get to work on time. Hence, reserve this extravaganza for any one day of the week, without fail. It’s true when you like how you look, when you have a good, satisfying start to the day, it does wonders for your confidence. I remember distinctly how just even adorning a pair of high heels adds oodles to my self esteem since I’m short and heels also give me an amazing posture. So I seem so much more confident to my own self. Do that for yourself. You know you deserve it. One day of the week, let it be your day.

Now I’m no expert on self-help but all the hacks detailed above have been tried and tested by me. I always write from my own learnings. I hope these help you too. Let me know in the comments sections if you’re going through a crisis like this or if you’ve already undergone one. Feel free to add to the list. Let me know if I’ve forgotten something. Most of all, share messages of positivity to help our fellowmen get along.

We all have places to go, we’ll get there when we’re ready. Be ready to hear the bang of our arrival!

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Mind and Body

So I haven’t posted anything in a while. I’ve been slightly busy with family engagements. However, today, during the midst of a family dinner, a thought struck my mind and I haven’t been able to shirk it off till now. So here I am, getting it all out.

As some of you might know, I was recently doing a regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I discussed the importance of breaking the taboo surrounding such issues and to always get appropriate help in this regard. Then I proceeded to pen down my own interpretations of some mental health issues like depressionanxietyself-doubtMaladaptive Daydreaming. Today I realised how I missed out on a very important aspect of mental health. This is my rectification of the same.

This happens to be the physical aspect of mental health. No, no, hear me out. I get that common understanding dictates mental and physical health to be two different categories albeit that go hand in hand. What I’m trying to propose here is that they’re one and the same. You cannot have without the other. Hence, you need to strive to have both.

A case in point being my own journey in the past two years. Working long hours as a corporate lawyer takes its toll on not just your sleep, time and peace of mind but also your physical fitness. Most days I could not take out any time to eat and survived on black coffee. No meal was ever on schedule and we all know how harmful that could be. Late working hours also ensured that home cooked food became a luxury I could no longer afford. Ordering food to be delivered to my office became the go-to resort. Needless to say, all such food was very detrimental to health by virtue of being very heavy, oily, fried, unhygienic and nowhere near about fit for regular consumption.

Resultantly, I ended up gaining 20kgs. It didn’t help that I’m also short. Thus, there was nothing to prevent me from looking like a football. Thank god for gravity and friction or one strong kick would have had me rolling round the universe for eternity.

These two years have also been my lowest as far as mental health is considered.

Since the past six months, however, I’ve put my heart and soul into taking back control of my body. I’ve lost 12kgs and have 8 more to go. I feel fitter, lighter but most surprisingly, happier. My outlook has become more positive not just towards life but also things that invariably used to pull me down. So without even having to put an effort into bettering my mental health, improvements in my physical health led me to an unforeseen and way better emotional headspace.

Thus, I reiterate, even though mental and physical health go hand in hand, they’re not two sides of a coin. In essence, they’re much the same. A healthy mind would prefer to reside in a healthy body and make sure that happens. A healthy body will do all it takes to provide a mental workout to your mind. Either way, health will Triumph

It’s not mind over body, you all. Its mind and body. Be healthy, be happy, take back control of your lives and live long and prosper!

Also, if any of you need any motivation or tips to achieve fitness, mental or physical/mental and physical, I’m always available to help in any manner I can to the best of my ability. Please feel free to comment or drop a mail at varnikajain92@gmail.com. I promise to respond within a day with the best advise I can muster!

[P.S. – Wish me luck for the remaining 8kgs. A little support goes a long way 🙂 ]

Of mountains and burdens

“These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian

Who amongst us has not felt the weight of the world laying on our fragile shoulders? Oh Atlas, I wish you could see how many kindred souls you have!

It is time to jettison all the extra burden that we have self-imposed on ourselves. Yes, self-imposed. No, no, you heard me right.

I agree we live in a fiercely competitive dog eat dog world in present times. No one is spared from an ever present, all consuming pressure to perform. Right from toddlers participating in fancy dress competitions in pre-school, to high-school students scrambling to be popular and cool, to suicide attempts on failing entrance exams, to attaining promotions over all other colleagues, the list is endless. Expectations from parents, from the world, peer-pressure, everything demands of us to excel, to be beyond Successful. There is no scope for failure. One could ask what prompted me to call the burden self imposed when we are obviously straining under the impositions of parents, peers, society and the world at large. Well, the answer lies in the difference between your perception of success and failure.

If you have attempted something whole-heartedly and to the best of your ability, leaving you with no regret, no “oh I wish I had spent just one more minute on it”, then you, my friend, have not failed, irrespective of the result. Let no one tell you differently. You are more than the sum total of your accomplishments. You are more than what your parents dreamt for you or what your peers are doing. You are what you are.

Allow me to tell you then that all the burden and pressure you’re experiencing is just your fear of not appearing competent enough in the eyes of others, the fear of failing as per the definition prescribed by them. Let go of that fear. Trust in yourself. After all, you’re the person who knows you best.

Define your own success, define your own failures. Assess your own self. Because, the mountains that you’re Carrying, you were only supposed to be climb. Shed them off. Make the climb easier. Be the bear, from the popular children’s song, that went over the mountain to see what he could see!

For everyone who’s a bit of a fixer-upper

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost sight of my purpose. Everything appears bleak and dreary. I feel devoid of all focus. On such days I’m also inexplicably lethargic. When there’s no point in anything, why bother, is how my brain tends to rationalize. However, social media brings me face to face with how well others are doing. How they have what I yearn for. How Successful they are when I’m just sitting here being a loser. Even how I’m never going to be as good as everyone else. For every such day, I would like to pen down the following message for myself. I’m also posting it here in case it can be of use to a kindred soul.

“Don’t pity yourself, babe, and I don’t know why you do that either. You can’t pity a person that knows how to feel in today’s insensitive world. And I think that’s the only fault, as such, which can be found in you. Although from my point of view, that’s not really a fault. Others also have times when they feel what you’re feeling today but somehow they are able to push it aside and hanker on. You, on the other hand, need to pause and let that feeling get over before getting back to doing things. That’s not being lazy or useless. That’s just because you feel and you think. And that’s perfectly okay. Because when it comes down to the wire, I’m sure you’d do whatever you set your mind to. You’re fierce like that. I love you.”

In all things beautiful

07-depressionI have been battling depression since, at the cost of sounding over-dramatic, as long as I can remember. Considering how in my mere 24 years of existence, depression has plagued the better part of the past ten, I can be reasonably excused for stretching the truth a tad. This post begins as a venting of repressed feelings on a sleepless night, however, I hope to be able to provide a sliver of hope to my equally suffering brethren by the end of this.

It saddens me to see how everyone today, regardless of living in the first world or the third, claims to be riddled with depression merely because something upset them momentarily. On a similar note, mood swings are hastily covered up under the pretext of bipolar syndrome these days. Not to belittle these pangs of pain felt by so many, presumably well meaning, people, I hope to reach out to those who are actually, genuinely depressed. Because, you see, depression isn’t just a feeling, it is a state of being. A hopeless state at that. If you see the word hope recurring at a more than alarming frequency in this post, fret not, as it is indeed hope that this narrative stems from.

There is hope, indeed, in all things beautiful. There is hope in the voice of a father asking how you’re doing while it takes all you have to not breakdown and cry on hearing this query over the phone. There is hope in a lover’s inquiry of how your day went while he himself is undertaking a long, arduous drive back home after a tiring day at work. There is, yet, hope in your closest friend casually asking if you slept alright over an innocent cup of coffee.

If you find waking up each day a herculean task after having snatched a few moments of dear sleep when your body wore out of exhaustion in the wee hours of morning, I implore you to hope. Yes, I agree we’ve been brought up fearing hope to be a dangerous thing but what is life without a few risks, eh? Even if every day finds you sinking deeper into the quagmire of your Kafkaesque despair, even if hoping seems an exercise in futility almost akin to chasing the will-o-the-wisp and life does not seem worth the pain you undergo, you should persist. Because life persists in all things beautiful.

To be or not to be…the mid-mid-life crisis

What do you say when someone asks you what you want to do or be in life? Moreover, is doing the same as being? Sometimes I wonder if we had it easier as kids. At any given age, I had always known what I wanted to become, not that it didn’t change every year, however, the point being that whenever asked, I was always ready with a confident answer rattled out with full conviction. Ironically, now when I am at a stage where I need this answer the most, I’m absolutely clueless. I have lost the ability to cull out what I want, the confidence to peg where I want to be and the desire to actually become someone. 

Usually, it becomes easier to avoid the questions or to even lash out at the perpetrators for having put me in a position to formulate an answer. Unfortunately, you can’t really do that when it’s your father or your boyfriend asking you. You know all too well that they’re coming from a good place and only want to help you out rather than adding salt to your injury. But that is what I am. An injured, disillusioned girl who’s trying to take it one day at a time with no long term goal in mind. Yes, I want to make it. I don’t know what I have to make something out of though. However, life still runs on a tight schedule of planning and considerations. Oh Dear Lord, humans run a tight ship.

The only pliable solution staring at me is to fix an interview with my own self. Scary as it may sound, it has to be done. I need to get my own measure and take some strong yet hard decisions. Wish me luck, whoever’s out there!