Monday, November 13

Explore and Be YOU!

I turned 32 this July. Makes me closer to 40, than 20. 

(No, there's no shame in asking a woman her age or a woman divulging it herself. Enough with these sweeping generalizations! So passe, and derogatory to women AND men of the new world ...)

While some would consider aging disheartening, I believe it's wonderful to be in your 30s - you're more sure about yourself and life in so many ways. People can only judge you now, they can't change you (for better or worse) and you know yourself and your goals with more clarity and honesty. Your childhood ambitions of being a celebrity have either been realised or not, by this time, and you have a fair idea of whether you will make it at all, thereby leading you to consider option more within your reach. For all you know, the old goal might not resonate with you anymore, and you find peace and passion in something that you never imagined would be your calling.

When I look back now at my life, I see myself as a product of so many institutions and experiences. Unique, yet common. I was born and raised in Pune, like million other kids. Bullied like a few hundred. Teacher's pet, and the only one called Anuja Rathi. I went to Abhinava Vidyalaya and then Fergusson College, like thousand other folks. But I was among the few who scored a rank in merit, something that meant the world to me and my family then, but hardly matters now. Onward to a masters in Psychology and a career in training like hundreds of kin, where I am recognized as a model in my area of profession and social circle.

What's your USP?

What makes you unique? 

I don't obviously mean one in 7.6 billion (check this crazy clock!) or even one in 1.34 billion (that's India's count of today) - but at least one among many. What makes you YOU?

This couldn't possibly come out of your education or career, since there would be innumerable others that join the same institutions. It could not be hobbies either, unless there were some sold level achievements. For instance, Himanshu Agrawal from Mumbai made the largest origami giraffe in 2009, and set a world record, but incidentally there were 9 others who did not get a mention despite being at it for 12 hours... 

So well, what's your selling proposition? 

If you don't know yet, it's time to find out. Explore yourself, ask what you have done that makes you proud and worthy. What do you carry within you that makes you someone to cherish? Or despise. Your wickedness is a USP, too, if you do it well enough. Depends on you whether you want to make it known and market it. There's always takers. For everyone. And everything. The price needs to be right, and the market needs to be discovered or created. 

Let me help you get some perspective. The typical hiring question posed my interviewers, "Why should we hire you?" What answer can you give that will get you a spot on the payroll or board of whatever?

There's bound to be at least one thing that makes you feel good about yourself. There could be many as well. Find them out, each one of them. That is your key to success.

Don't go by what others say about you, don't even start with "others call me/say I am ...." cos others don't know you really. Your inner voice will give you a true response. Others may know me as strong and certain, but I know how weak and lost I am inside. Who do I resonate with? Who feels more me? I am an ambivert, but a lot of people would tag me otherwise given my expressed personality and choice of profession. 

There's an interesting theory of the Johari window, where you learn about yourself and maximise the Open Arena. That could be a starting point. But I'm guessing that by this point, if you're still reading, you have already zeroed down to a few adjectives about yourself that are real, even if not acceptable to society or self. You may not want to reveal it, but by now, you do know it... What is it that sets you apart in your team/org/circle. Not merely describes you, but defines you. Figure out.

Your looks? What you wear? Whether you dance well or not? What are your vital stats? All temporary. Your confidence, now that's what stays. While many believe that women dress ti impress men, it's a long guarded secret that women want to look pretty first for themselves, and then for other WOMEN. Men be darned. 

Compliments and insults only hit, when you are insecure or assured about something, else they miss.

So, what is it that you bring to the table, partner?

Don't be afraid to be yourself. That's the best and only person you can be. There are too many others anyway....

Chin Up!
Anuja
    

Thursday, November 2

Search for the Elusive

All that glitters is not gold. Yet, each black cloud has a silver lining. 
Although, birds of a feather flock together, familiarity breed contempt. 

Life is full of these dichotomies. Contradictions galore. 
In life, in values, in people and in choices.

Lately, I've become more intolerant with people because I can see through their untruthfulness and I cannot stand it. While I am no Satyawaadi Harishchandra myself, I do make an honest attempt to do the right thing and tell the truth, no matter how bitter and the resulting consequences. I agree life is full of greys, but that statement applies to some situations, and not all, as conveniently exploited by those up to good. 

They say patience with family is love, and patience with others is respect. 

I find it hard to respect people who are not being genuine or generous. Those who pretend and those who are self-centred. No wonder then I am known for being the devil's advocate and calling a spade a spade at work and home. I'm liked and despised in equal measure, yet I quite like this quality where I make no bones about it. Makes me respect myself, else I'd be just like one of those lying buggers teeming out there. 

Diplomacy is a good alternative, I have heard. The unfortunate bit is most people do not understand sarcasm or tact, and go about doing what they're doing anyway, with zero regard to other folks and the impact of their actions.

The elusive gentleman and lady. Why art thou so rare?!!

Someone who is abusive at home is popular as kind and liberal by colleagues. Someone who is outwardly pleasant but vicious inside is lauded as sweet and nice. Even Rama who was the Purush-ottam (the perfect man) did injustice by Sita when he chose to be a worthy king first rather than a good husband. What did Sita get in return for all her hardship, loyalty, love and faith? She was cast away in the woods, pregnant and sorrowful. Our fates are anyday better than that godwoman, despite our intents and acts being worse.

As I learnt about Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, so many epiphanies surfaced - that there are "mokitas" where people do not openly talk about issues, that relationships die when honest conversations stop, and that we need to approach Coaching and Confrontation very differently than we usually do. Unfortunately, our culture inhibits us from being "Fierce". Meekness is taught and valued, flattery and gossip gets you places. Good leaders and true friends are hard to find, and competence and transparency can only get you so far. People are nice to each other only for a time and purpose, and relationships are forgotten the moment the tangible outcomes wane. 

They say it takes a strong man to deal with a strong woman, and I completely agree. As I see some of my female friends and colleagues hunt for a decent match, the narrow-mindedness of most men appals us, whereas it's a relief to know about it sooner than suffer later. Is it any surprise then that most individuals either remain single all their lives, waiting for someone compatible and real, and many couples either separate or cheat? 

It's Kal-Yug. The dark age. The darkness is more real now than anytime else. My patience is weaker, endlessly subjected to all that is not authentic, capable, human. The suggestion online and offline is meditation, but that's a long, lonely road my mind is not prepared to take. Choose your battles, they say - sometimes peace is more important than being right. 

As I count my blessings, I pray for honesty - in our lives, relationships, careers and society. 

Love and Luck to all of ye,
Princess
           

Tuesday, October 31

Burst of Happiness

... and yet again, the voice of the customer (VoC) tells me that my writing has become dark and gloomy, and that does resound with my (more or less consistent) current state. Totally unpleasant, I assure you. Not nice to read, but harder to endure and experience. 

Life's not all that bad though, despite my "why me" rants. I know people going through much more agonising shit and I applaud them for their tenacity and cheerfulness. Thank the Lord for good jobs, generous family and great friends - I'm blessed and often ungrateful. 

My days are made up of traveling to/from office, marveling at the antics of my growing superstar Aarush (he turns 3 soon!), creating content and sending loads of L&D communication at work, checking out videos and acquaintance updates on social networking, an episode or two of Game of Thrones (I'm on season 5 at the moment - loving Aria Stark and Olenna Tyrell and Tyrion Lannister, hating Cersei and Peter Baelish and can't quite make up my mind about Lord Varys and Jamie Lannister) and the weekly dose of Splitsvilla Season 10 (rooting for nobody in particular, but definitely hating Haneet and Alisha). Reading and writing has taken a complete backseat owing to my video obsession, a quick albeit brainless fix for boredom and laziness. 

Diwali was great - here, in Pune as well as in Bombay. We burst crackers (possibly more than we did last year, since Aarush is grown up and excited with fireworks left over from last time) Also had a good time with fam in Mumbai where I and Aaru traveled in Ola cabs and had a safe, economical, repeatable experience.

I watched Secret Superstar last week, a slow and emotional movie that feel short of the Aamir Khan brand but entertaining nevertheless. The song "Nachdi Phira" by Meghana Mishra is an absolute delight and never fails to make me cry. The state of Lavasa city also made me cry, because it is now a dilapidated ruin compared to what it was publicised earlier. How times change! Looking forward to Ittefaq this week and maybe some travel (pleasure/business) in the upcoming months.    

Aarush is a breeze of fresh air : we're reading about dinosaurs and his enunciation is way better than even mine! He makes me so proud, with his (often) well behaved and (over) communicative, handsome personality - nobody can keep their hands and eyes off the cheeky li'l pixie! He's the heart throb at home and outside, and his memory and maturity is second to none. I know a mom can be prejudiced, but you would know this is true if you've met him... He adores anything scary (just like mommy!) and relishes junk (again like mommy!) Be it painting or Tabata with me, or running around at daycare, bossing around with the grandparents or loving outdoor play - this child has a million hobbies and one. Just hoping that I live up to being a good mom to this amazing human. 

I've come across someone called Murali Sundaram - a happiness coach, as he calls himself. Subscribing to his daily digest has made me ponder on some simple aspects of life that we generally do not to introspect or notice. Some of his tips, that might benefit you as well, are shared below: 

* To stop brooding over painful memories, stop replaying the incident in your head, take deep breaths and remind yourself of a happy experience. Control your imagination and choose bliss rather than negativity (which as we know, is more powerful and permanent than the positives, hence needs more and mindful effort)

* Find fault if you wish to increase happiness; not fault in others, but fault in self. Take responsibility of your behavior and thought. 

* Change your attitude from WHY to WHAT. Rather than saying "Why did it happen to me?" (which is my top favorite currently) - ask "What have I learnt from this? What do I need to do now?" - focus on the future, not the past and dwell on action than blame. 

* Planning and preparation coupled with meditation are the most effective tools to make your life productive, successful and happy. It's tougher than it sounds, and you will fail - but don't give up. Just like life does not give up on you.

... and there is lots more, feel free to browse should it interest you. 

See you another day!

Cheers, 
Anuja   

Sunday, October 8

Weird Things

Weird thing that I'm writing in so late... (It's almost 01.30 IST now) 

Weird thing that I've titled this post weird thing, too.

Weird thing that I've (finally) started watching GoT (Game of Thrones) after all these years despite people getting trolled and myself sniggering at it... I'm now at 402. Loving Aria and Tyrion, hating but admiring Cersei, Tywin and the Hound, sorry for the Starks and Jon Snow.

Weird thing that I did not want to write for so long since what came down on paper (web, in this context) was only depressing and negative. Did not want to come across as a crybaby or cribster or pitiable to you folks. Nobody likes a whiner. 

Weird thing that I'm finally writing now. At this time. Dead of night. 

Weird thing that some psychos are trying to hack into my gmail for ages now from West Bengal, Jakarta, Bali and Pune. Like, what in Christ's name are hoping to find in my email? 

Weird thing that I gave up a chance to go to the US. My (benevolent) company offered to send me on a year long (rare) assignment to Amrika and I said nope coz there were other pressing matters at hand. 

Weird thing that fixed deposits in India earn you less than 7% but you pay 10% interest on loans and 18% GST on the food that you eat in hotels. 

Weird thing that I can't seem to make up my mind about certain important decisions in my life that are causing me agony and my family inconvenience. 

Weird thing that people are dying of cancer all the friggin time - they eat healthy and they die of wax on fruit peels, they exercise regularly and they die of some other cancer, they don't have any (regular) fun in life, and they still die of cancer. I've never heard of a smoker or junkie dying of cancer, and that's weird, right? I mean, where's the motivation to act and stay healthy? You die regardless, and of cancer. Where's this coming from? The air that we breathe, the lifestyle we follow, the food that we eat and the genes that we inherit. No saying who will get what. So you know what, do the hell what you please, and live your life to the fullest, coz no one can answer why when you're gone. Might as well make the most of it.

Weird thing that some people are only born to drink while others are only born to serve others. Weird that they don't accept it, or care to do nothing about it. 

Weird that I think I'm a writer, but haven't been able to finish 50k words in my book in the last 2 years. 

Life is weird. People are weirder. 

And that makes life interesting. A straightforward story would be as boring as a math formula. 

(Which I certainly enjoy, appreciate and welcome.)

(No wonder I am weird.)

Cheerio!
Anuja

Monday, August 21

Why Me?!!

I know this is a ridiculous and foolhardy question, especially when thousands are battling for their health and existence worldwide. But you tend to compare yourself with those up the ladder, and not below. Human nature, what you got is never enough and the grass is always greener on the other side...

The normal reactions of dealing with any change (as I learnt in my own Change Management class) are Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, Action and Monitor Progress. I seem to have gone through the entire cycle - but the loop keeps bringing me back to Anger after Action.

I was told by my friends and social circle that I'm a model for others, that I seem to have my act together, and I inspire others. Time for me to reveal just how fragile and vulnerable I am. Day after day. Slogging on. Hoping for a better tomorrow. Praying things work out okay and I manage to be happy. At peace. I fail. Every single (or alternate) day.

I wasn't born into an affluent family, though I did not have to make any major sacrifices or strive tremendously hard for anything. Yet, at the back of my mind, I always knew money was scarce, and I had to be careful about my future and expenses. I was bullied at school by my classmates for being dark complexioned and at home by my brother coz I was the ideal kid for my parents. My life was focused around making my family proud of me, and getting off their back as soon as possible to relieve them of duty and stress. Made me an immensely adaptive child in Transactional Analysis terms, even as I maintained my Free Child spirit. I was inwardly introvert and scared, though confident and carefree externally. I hated my childhood and could not wait to grow up.

I started doing odd jobs in college to earn pocket money, this included doing day jobs in marketing promotions and writing the odd article/poem in local newspapers to earn fame and finance support. I was excellent at academics, and ironically everything I worked hard for, I could not achieve - the scholarships in school and college, important job interviews, study abroad opportunities and relationships, whether friendly or romantic. Nothing lasted. I always felt incomplete, unaccomplished. Nothing really mattered. Nothing really gave pleasure. Not those silly parties that others boasted off, endless clubbing that makes teens feel liberated, and I did not possess the selfless streak to engage in social service and stuff.

I got married for love. I was elated that I'd finally nailed it. Made something of my life that would bring me happiness and complete me. Karma wasn't done testing me or maybe my sins were not repaid yet. I fought society and my parents to marry my spouse and his family. My husband abandoned me, sometimes for his colleagues and other times for his family. I couldn't wrap my head around it - how could somebody that was my world, be so uncaring towards me and not be concerned or responsible for how I felt and what I wanted? How could I be ignored and abused all the time? The few moments of joy that I was blessed with, made me feel it was all worth it, that the strife and conflicts were normal and happened in all relationships. That marriages survived, and spouses were meant to be for life.

Unloved. Unwanted. Fighting and demanding things. From my own husband who treated me like I did not matter. That I did not belong. I remained incomplete.

Educated and intelligent - I think I am extremely unworthy of these tags. If I was, I probably would not have to go through all that I have. I thought illiterate, helpless women in slums were abused and exploited, and made stupid decisions. I chose to have a baby when things were already fragile between me and my husband. I should have quit right then, rather than spoiling my life plus one. I knew my in laws were hopeless, manipulative creeps and I chose to bring another being under their sick influence. I got to get an award for being so dumb. I got a son, a beautiful and amazing creature, a gift from the gods to make my life worth living and loving.

I have given up trying to explain myself to anyone, but it hurts you know. It hurts to be so misunderstood and disliked for being genuine. I return kindness a 100 fold and try to be a forgiving, optimistic person. I fail on most days, like today. But I go on, hope creeps in, in one form or the other and gives me strength to survive another day.

I admire people who have been dealt the worst in life, and they still take in their stride and trudge on with a smile on their face.

Thankfully, there are some people who understand and appreciate me for who I am, but the majority cannot deal with it, and it's okay.

What is not okay is that my misery seems endless.

I know joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, and one follows the other, neither stays forever. I'm praying that happy days arrive soon, and stay awhile, helping me gather strength for any more difficulties that lie ahead.

Coz we're all equal, and have our own troubles, and God stands by our side through thick and thin.

We shall get through this :-)

And I did! The best way to mend your mood is to do something for someone else.

After a long time, I did Tarot reading sessions for some of my acquaintances and helping them instantly raised my spirit. I can't help solve your problems, but I can help you find hope and be prepared for what lies ahead. And sometimes, that's enough.

Stay strong!

Cheers,
Anuja