Confidence is bred; not inborn

Having lived in the U.S. for a few years now, it’s hard to not notice the difference in the average confidence of an American as compared to an Indian. Don’t quote me because I am not stating any facts based on stats here, this is purely based on my experience. Chime in if you feel/don’t feel the same way.

The lack of confidence amongst Indians when placed in a global cosmopolitan setting stems from the underlying inferiority complex that they constantly feel with respect to their fellow light-skinned counterparts. Years of suppression under the British rule has somehow ingrained this “less-than” feeling that seems to have quite a tenacious grip on our conscience. Before we protest racism and discrimination by color, it is important that we first take measures and pass down values that erase this innate discrimination that we put ourselves through, be it consciously or unconsciously.

As far as confidence is concerned, it’s quite convenient to think that only the British rule is responsible for our tribulation. The way we were brought up plays a part too. Indian culture to a certain extent not only undermines the potential of young children but also invariably spoils/pampers them, giving way to highly dependent adults. Often, young children are never asked for their opinions on anything, their brain is never stimulated to make decisions and even if opinions are presented by them to adults, they are often suppressed/not valued. This is bound to create adults who have not only felt undervalued all their lives but also don’t feel befitted to take their own decisions. Furthermore, they feel entitled to have their decision made for them.

And if you really want stats, here’s one for you – “An HSBC report states, around 55 percent of Indian parents still provide financial support to their adult children”. It’s important that we teach our children to be financially independent as soon as they hit adulthood. Financial independence is not only about not having to depend on your parents for money, but it’s also so much about being confident in your own skin. As millennials, this step is ours to take.

Falling back on your parents when nothing works out can no longer be your plan B. Go out into the world, headstrong about making a career for yourself where financial stability is the last thing you seek from your parents or from your spouse. Confidence is not something you are born with; it’s achieved over years and is inbred through your upbringing. We as millennials not only need to imbibe this philosophy but also make our kids stick by it.

The Circle of Life

I have a theory; nature has a way of pushing us back to where we started. This concept is my version of “The Circle of Life”. Not sure of the reason but the concept has somehow shown itself to me in various forms over the last few months.

Think about it, we’re going back to basics. We as a race started with natural foods, processed it to the maximum, realized processed food isn’t good for us and now we’re going back to what the nature intended – back to the basics, back to natural produce – no additives, no preservatives, anti-insecticides and pesticides. Pretty counter-productive, isn’t it?

We made our life so convenient that we don’t need to get out of the bed anymore, for anything, only to realize that we actually do need to include physical work in our day-to-day lives so we started running aimlessly on the streets, on the treadmill. Went from running for food as hunters and gatherers to running for nothing.

We created boundaries by geography, race and color to lay the foundation for communities before we realized we’re too divided for our own good and so we started protesting it. And, now we want to go back to no boundaries?

We went from a race who invented monogamy, practiced it, even preached it and then evolved into a generation who now promotes the right to live life the way they want- remove the stigma from divorce. Well, there wouldn’t have been a problem if we had not introduced the concept of marriage and monogamy in the first place!

Ever wondered, maybe there wasn’t a point to anything we did as a race? Just some food for thought!

POP THE BUBBLE – Polarization in Ideologies

Tell me, have you ever accosted an individual but were left speechless because you realized how narrow your opinion about a certain topic had been until that moment? I confess, I have. And if you haven’t, you’re either a person of God, or you’re highly ignorant. We all, at some point in our life, realize that our history, the consequences we have been brought up with have somehow swayed our opinion in an anchored direction and we have never questioned its rationale. It’s time we pop that bubble we have so inadvertently been strengthening all our lives.

Living in a bubble creates polar opinions, extreme to an unimaginable extent. Take an example of the political polarity in the U.S. The Democratic and Republican point of views are so polar that it’s hard to imagine that individuals on both sides are just regular human beings. It almost seems like they belong to different planets. The extremism in their ideologies also came out due to geographical boundaries. You’ll find certain states as democratic as they can be and others just as republican. Point being, the circles you spend time with can be bound by geographies and so can your ideology.

Talking about boundaries, let’s not only talk about physical boundaries but also virtual ones. Polarization caused by social media is a known problem amongst the moguls and they know how to make the most out of it to further their agenda. Consider this, you search about “How climate change is a hoax?” and you get flooded with numerous articles supporting that point of view. You process that information, go through the facts presented by them and are slightly convinced that maybe they have a point. Thanks to targeted marketing, next time you open your Facebook and you see forums popping up that support the same ideology, asking you to join. You think, well why not, let’s see what they have to offer. And so now you are a part of a community of people who think the same way about climate change. The conversations become quite one-sided and pretty opposing of the other side. Before you know it, you are completely invested in their beliefs and now you find yourself living in the same bubble.

Polarization not only has palpable geographical and virtual impacts but is also highly apparent demographically. How? Take our parents for example, it only takes a 15 min conversation on a sensitive topic to realize how polarized our opinions are to our parents. It’s like we belong to two completely different schools of thought. It’s like how Karen, wife of one of the main gangsters in the movie “Goodfellas”, talks about mobsters living in a bubble. It almost seems like killing, drug dealing and selling guns becomes normal to them because that’s the crowd they hang out with every day, no outsider ever.

My opinion, we have geographical, virtual and demographic factors to deal with when it comes to maintaining an open-minded attitude. It’s not easy, unless we consciously make efforts to question and rationalize, every time we find these factors pushing us in a certain direction. Look the other way and try to turn your point of views upside down occasionally. Maybe there’s truth on the other side as well.

PROP CULTURE – Propaganda that forms culture!

A term coined by me for the purpose of this blog, Prop Culture means culture that is formed by propaganda. Human minds are impressionable and forgetful at the same time. Impressionable enables big corporations to leave an impact on our minds through propaganda and forgetful enables them to make us forget that it was propaganda in the first place. Soon enough it becomes culture.

That is exactly what happened when De Beers ad campaign feigned us into believing that diamonds are rare and valuable and the only way of expressing the desire to marry is to present a diamond ring to your loved one. Prices of engagement rings went up and so did our expectations.

Propaganda makes an appearance again when blue was associated with boys and pink with girls. So, anything blue or pink sold well, and big corporation were minting money. It would be wrong to say that no one questioned the basis of assigning colors to genders because quite a few did. Pink was associated with girls because it is close to the romantic color red and women are perceived to be more emotional than men. Women’s Liberation Movements did oppose it however we all know now that the color bias still stuck and is a widely accepted prejudice in our culture.

Propaganda for desirable body shape for women changes with every generation. Corsets for extremely thin waists in 1910s to straight figures in 1920s, then came the soft curves in 1930s, fast forward to long legs in 1980s and now big butts in 2020s. So, what exactly is desirable? Anything that is advertised as desirable is desirable.

Don’t give in to propaganda, have a strong value system and stick by it! Our responsibility lies in our ability to not let external forces affect our bearing on reality. Don’t wear a shield to deflect opinion but don’t blindly accept it either, my advice is to rationalize it internally and then add it to your value system accordingly.

This is My Everest – 10 Signs that indicate that your Mental Health Needs Attention

Mental health is being talked about now more than ever and there are numerous blogs out there that talk about causes, symptoms and cures. However, before I write one of these of my own, let me start by telling you what this blog is not – I write this blog today not to tell you my journey but to let you in to my evolution. This is not a cry for help or a way for me to vent. It is also not a note of sympathy. It’ not a health guide that will cure all your sufferings. This doesn’t provide a solution but only spells out the emotions that you might relate to because sometimes that’s enough. It is factual, it is practical, and it is life. What I mean by “it is life” is that it is a part of the journey of life. It is the sadistic valley you take to get to the mountaintop. It is a downward pull to help you catapult to your full potential. It’s transformational. It’s evolutionary and most of all, once you come out of it, it helps you look at things from a different perspective, a positive one.

I have decided to keep this very informational rather than personal and so I am not going to go into the details of my life events however, I am going to describe some of the emotions I felt along the way. This will not only help you figure out whether you are going through a similar experience but also help you understand that you’re not the only one and if someone else has come out of it, you can too. This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. This is just a repertoire of some of the things that I experienced, which means you might experience some things that are not on this list – e.g. Loss of sleep/ excessive sleep or increase/decrease in appetite etc. Similarly, there might be things in this list that you might not experience at all. Everyone has their own journey, what’s important is to own it and to be able to talk about it. I have to admit, talking about it was not easy for me, and it won’t be for you either but you have to start somewhere.

  1. Excessive crying
    Do you remember crying when you were young? What did your parents tell you to do when you broke into a cry? Did they tell you to stop crying or did they ask you to let it all out? Well, most parents go for the former. Why does crying have a negative connotation? It is a normal bodily reaction to a hurtful situation. When you sneeze, do they tell you to stop sneezing? My point is, cry. Let it all out. Cry your heart out. Cry your eyes, ears, nose out. Because let me tell you something, it will and does make you feel better. A depressed mind tends to cry more because it is injured and needs that cry to heal a little. So, my advice, don’t shy away from crying, embrace it. But when it becomes excessive, that’s a sign that you need to seek help because crying can only heal you so much. You need more.
  2. Worthlessness
    Feeling worthless can not only act as a trigger but also worsen your condition if you’re already in the shithole. Worthlessness can stem from multiple factors – work, social status etc. We tend to derive our self-worth from other people’s opinions of us. In times like these, it is important to remind yourself of your journey and what it took to get to where you are. It is in in fact a vicious cycle. For eg, the more worthless you feel at the work place the less productive or driven you are which leads you to feel even more worthless. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to believe in yourself. You just need to get out of that bed one day and start working toward what you expect of yourself. Believe me, it’s very easy to feel pity for yourself. The first step might seem like a drop in the ocean, but you’d be surprised at how important that first step is. After you’ve done that, everything will fall into place. Remember, one day at a time. It won’t happen overnight.
  3. Loneliness
    Again, loneliness can be cause as well as a symptom of depression. Symptom how? Depression has the ability feign you into believing that talking about it will somehow make it worse because no one will understand or that people will judge you and form opinions about you. Or that they will take you for a weak person. To be completely honest, this might sound like a cliché, but the day you start talking about it is the day you’ve actually become strong enough to get over it. Till you do that, you’re weak. So stop telling yourself that people won’t understand, because you’re not the only one.
  4. Fear/Anxiety
    If you ask me, fear is the more difficult emotion you’ll ever have to feel. People often talk about that pit in their stomach that sucks the living life out of you.
    That pit is nothing, but fear metamorphosed into anxiety. It’s that lump in your throat that always seems to remind you that you’re not well. It messes with your brain. You need to realize that the start you get when your phone rings is not normal. Those heart palpitations are not normal. You’ll find yourself not being able to finish even the smallest of tasks at hand because of fear. The things that you used to be able to do without any trouble will now seem like unachievable chores. This also ties to the biggest enemy to mankind – procrastination.
  5. Procrastination Are you lazy or do you procrastinate because you are scared that you won’t be able to finish the task at hand? If it’s the latter, do you also feel like anything you set out to do seems like a mammoth venture and almost impossible to finish? Do you feel like you’re living in a world of giants and that all these tasks are huge mountains that you must climb but just cannot? I was never a procrastinator, but I became one because I was living in a world of my own making where I was always scared. Scared of not being able to finish the work and disappointing myself. Procrastination can and has the potential to be your doom. As I said, the most important thing is to take that first step and then everything falls into place right after you do it. Just give it a try.
  6. Under confidence
    Even if you were never the one to be a victim of under confidence, depression and anxiety have the ability to take you through that unchartered territory. When this happens, remind yourself of the potential you have and that this is a phase that will pass. Cut yourself some slack and let your mind heal, you will come out an even more confident person.
  7. Low tolerance
    In times like these, you’ll find yourself flipping out over every small thing. You’ll get angry/irritated/annoyed more often. Take a deep breath and let that fleeting rush of anger pass before you do any damage that is irreplaceable. Try not to give into it. You might feel a rush of judgement going through everyone else’s mind but, block it out and internalize. People close to you will understand. Try to stay away from people who intentionally look for reasons to hurt you because the things you used brush under the rug before might take a heavier toll on
    you this time.
  8. Negative thinking/ Excessive worrying/ Stress
    I was listening to “Mind is a Prison” by Alec Benjamin the other day and I realized that it just very accurately illustrates what it feels like to be in a negative frame of mind all the time and so I’m going to put in the lyrics here for you to read and take in:
    Sometimes I think too much, yeah, I get so caught up
    I’m always stuck in my head
    I wish I could escape, I tried to yesterday
    Took all the sheets off my bed
    Then I tied up my linen with five strips of ribbon I found
    Scaled the side of the building
    I ran to the hills ’til they found me
    And they put me back in my cell
    All by myself, alone with my thoughts again I guess my mind is a prison and I’m never gonna get out

This is exactly what it feels like to be stressed, worried and anxious all the time. The first thing you think before doing anything are the many things that could go wrong. You start thinking negatively about your future. You stress more on your weaknesses rather than your strengths and those thoughts pull you down. They hamper your growth. The worst thing is, after a point it becomes habitual. You won’t even realize when it becomes a part of you. It becomes the new normal until you start going further down and then that becomes the new normal. So, you’re basically digging a whole and the deeper you go, the more difficult it will be to get out. In times like these, it is important to have people around you who can recognize and point out that how you’re thinking is delusional.

  1. Loss of interest in day to day activities/hobbies
    Not being able to get out of your bed to resume day to day activities is something everyone goes through at some point in their life – heartbreaks, failures. However, we all know it passes and so, this too shall pass. Personal experience – journaling or writing down my feeling always helped me. So, grab onto something you really enjoy doing, almost force yourself to do it. I promise it is bound to make you feel better.
  2. Physical signs – Skin breakouts, IBS, Fatigue
    Of course, just as any other ailment, mental health issues will show physical symptoms as well. Skin breakouts, IBS and Fatigue to name a few. Physical signs our easier to catch for obvious reasons and so when that happens make conscious efforts to feel better – exercise, meditate, eat healthy (stop stress eating junk), indulge in light hearted music, light up scented candles, go out for a walk, watch your favorite movies – sky is the limit, right?

It’s a journey isn’t it? No one can tell you what will work for you, this is your Everest and you have to find a way to get to the top!

The Guilt of Irreverence!

The concept of being reverential stems from the omnipotent belief of the fact that experience brings wisdom. Some cultures took this basic concept and evolved it into actions. They believed that reverence is not only something you give credence to but is also something you show in actions. Thus started the fallacy of “Not talking back” to your elders.

This was more widely accepted in some cultures than others and I can only speak for mine. Our ancestors clearly didn’t understand the compounding impact this basic concept would have on how Indians would be perceived around the world. This “value system” that clearly started on a very positive note, is showing up in quite detrimental ways in our society. By detrimental I mean, detrimental to our mental health. One of the major causes for the lack of the ability to “stand up for yourself” stems from the feeling of reverence so deeply rooted in our culture.

All the times that your opinions were shut down or simply ignored because you were very young have actually made you believe that your opinions are in-fact worthless as compared to your elders, which is not true in all cases. The funny thing is, when you step into the real world, you’re told to throw away that belief which is by now embedded in your blood, and you’re asked for your opinions by those very “elders”. And so, all your life you’ve been counterproductive in preparing yourself for the real world. I for one think it’s important we re-evaluate our values rather than blindly following what our ancestors taught us and start “standing up for ourselves”, for what we believe in as millennials and pass down revamped beliefs.

Why did I stop writing? Why did I start again?!

Why did you stop writing? People have asked me this question a number of times over the last 4 years. My reply would usually be – nothing struck me as a strong topic or I just didn’t feel like writing anything or I’ve lost touch and so on. But what I didn’t tell them was the truth. And the truth was that I stopped writing because life happened, and I grew up. And if you know just a tad bit about growing up, you would know that over the course of your metamorphosis into adulthood, you become more restricted and even more vulnerable. When I had started my blog in 2015, I had a passion to write and to express my opinion. I was fearless and indifferent to another’s perception of me. That’s what I’m missing now. My old self would open her thoughts to the public without even a slight flinch and now she is just too scared to let it all out. Growing up made her strong but less brazen.
Growing up is a revelation. It’s like your mind introduces you to its previously undiscovered sides. I have stronger opinions now than ever, but I just can’t write them down. It’s like they are floating in my head begging to let them out, but my conscience is scolding them like a crooked old lady telling her grandkids to shut up and behave. Behave, because the people around you aren’t ready to see that side of you. They will judge you if you say anything. It’s best to keep quiet in a world where people form opinions about each other faster than they blink.
But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s okay if I have opinions that are too upfront for people to digest. It’s going to take some time to break the walls I’ve been building over the past 4 years to shield myself from rejection and criticism and the judgmental society, but I’m ready to write again about things I really care about. And for that matter, all the things that kids my generation care about but are too afraid to speak up.

Sweet Nothings – Remastered

This is a piece I wrote almost 4 years ago. Still remains published on my old blog – I might not use the same language that I used here now but my feelings remain the same. Thought I’ll repost it here just because it’s so close to my heart. Might seem a little naïve assuming I was a kid when I wrote it, but still worth a read. Here it goes..
I miss my old house. A two bedroom flat with a drawing room, dining room, and kitchen. It was big enough to fit a family of four. I miss the way all four of us used to plunge into just one bed and watch TV for hours together. How we never used to utilize the dining table and instead, sit on the floor in front of the TV while having dinner. How I used to sprint back and forth from one bedroom to another every half an hour to trouble my brother. I was such a pain in his ass. After all, preparing for AIPMT was not a piece of cake. I miss how my brother and I used to fight for the TV remote when our parents were not at home. How he used to come almost an hour later to apologize. I miss how all my siblings and I used to play foot squash, basketball, cricket, and football every evening and how we used to get scolding from our grandmother for making too much noise.

I miss how sometimes my dad and I used to cook in the kitchen when my mom was busy at the hospital and how we presented our food proudly to her afterward. I miss how my dad would piggyback me in the morning so that I would wake up and then we would pretend to sell sugar bags while roaming all around the house, negotiating prices with every customer we would see (obviously the only customers were my mom and my brother :p). I miss how excited I would get to clean the house the day the maid would not turn up and then wait for my mom to praise me for the wonderful job I had done.But now, everything has changed. Our lives have expanded and so has our dwelling. I grew up moved out for college and so did my brother. The longest my brother and I have shared our new house at a stretch are maybe 10 days. They say small homes build tight memories. These sweet nothings (I have a different meaning for “sweet nothings ” in this blog which I know you have figured out till now) have shaped who I am today, they are the foundation of my being. They are embedded deep in my heart and they are what I live for. I am grateful I spent my childhood in my little home sweet home.

Love grows best in houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate. If we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this. It’s funny how memories made in small rooms take up the most room in your heart.

Introvert in a world of extroverts!

Growing up, I always thought myself to be a fairly introverted person. Hardly uttered a word when guests would visit, talking to new people would always be exceedingly daunting and more often than not, my mom would answer on behalf of me when asked any question. It wouldn’t be fair to say that I was completely able to overcome this flaw (as some people might think of it) but I did a pretty decent job at meeting the society’s expectation of me in the middle. As a consequence, I now call myself an ambivert!
It is indeed a world pretty much dominated by extroverts. Maybe that’s why I find solace in writing. At least it doesn’t involve a person looking at me with a judgmental, almost pity-ish grin. Just me and my laptop and my thoughts, all left at my own disposal, meant to keep my heart at peace. However, I have by now molded myself to be a people’s person when need be. Comes in handy during those long networking events at work, conversations with your boss over drinks, a group of friends you want to impress with your wits (funny comes naturally to me so that’s never been a problem). Fight me all you want but extroverts, with all their charm, can climb that corporate ladder more quickly than an introvert, speak their mind more authoritatively at business meetings and make friends more easily to have a better social life. Introverts on the other hand spend half their life trying to change themselves. Sorry to break it to you but if you’re an introvert, it’s time you at least cross over to being an ambivert if not an extrovert! Just one wo-man’s opinion.

Birthdays are Overrated

I have reached a point in my life that I almost cannot contain my expectations even if I want to. Which is why I start getting fidgety the closer I get to my birthday. You see, birthdays have always been very important to me. I’ve always believed that the birthday must be the most special day of the year for a person. Why, it’s the day when it all began, for you!
However, as I’ve grown older and (I hope) wiser, I’ve come to realize that it is unreasonable and irrational to put this mammoth responsibility to make yourself feel special on one single day of the year. And that it is imperative and even recommended to disperse this responsibility, that we so unknowingly and innocently thrust on birthdays, to other days of the year. Doing this has notable brought down the immense pressure I put on myself and the people around me to make this day the best day of the year, if not my life. So yes, birthdays are overrated.
Apply this concept to not just the special days in your life but also the special people in your life. I feel that we put too much pressure on ourselves to select the perfect soulmate. For that matter, I feel that calling our spouse a soulmate/life partner is unfair. Why put the pressure of being your best friend, your champion, your husband, your partner in crime, your 4 am emotional breakdown go-to-person on just one person? To be honest, that’s a lot to expect from one person. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great if your husband is all these things. All I am saying is don’t make them a requirement. It’s only going to strain your relationship with your spouse. So, take it from me, the key to happiness is not expecting less, but just divvying up your expectations a little bit!