Category Archives: Writing

That Fine Line

One of the “fine lines” I thought about the other day was the line between knowing when to protect and when to push the self.

When is it ok to say “I’ve had enough of this environment, I can leave now”, and when I should say “I’m starting to feel overstimulated, but I can stay a while longer”?

When is it ok to use my personality traits as a justifiable reason for why I won’t allow myself to do certain things, like attend a dinner gathering with ex-colleagues on a weekday night, or spend 4 hours helping out at a kids’ sports camp on a Saturday… And when am I being too soft with myself, overprotecting myself, using my personality as an excuse just because I don’t want to risk the side effects of being socially tired and stretched?

The comrade offered a sensible approach: Examine what are the factors that trigger each episode of overstimulation, reflect on it and think about what could have been done differently if the situation comes up again. And most importantly: DON’T FEEL GUILTY LISTENING TO YOURSELF. You owe it to yourself.

A few Sundays ago it was simply an overdose of social interaction (8am to 1pm!), and guilt about leaving the social setting when the volunteer meeting wasn’t over.

Faced with the same situation again, I’d probably tell whoever’s chairing the meeting that I have a commitment at a certain time, and I’d have to leave BY X:XXPM (Key word being “by”, so I can leave earlier if I have to).

Time and time again I am reminded that we can’t be of much help to others if we don’t take care of our state of being first, and one of the first steps in doing that is to listen to our body. When frazzled, on edge, and just feeling bombarded by everything (not forgetting PMS), how much use can we be? Take a step back, let the body get what it needs, and reenter the world, gently, one step at a time.

It will be ok.

 

 

 

The FB Tradeoff

One of the more life-defining choices I’ve made this year, is the decision to go off Facebook. It started from December last year, after India, when I realised that I didn’t need FB to have a good quality of life, and was in fact better off without it. So 2017 started without FB. Jan, Feb, and now, March. This post is in celebration of my 3 months without Facebook 🙂

The pros:

  1. No more aimless browsing. How often have I sat in the train, and, without even thinking, reach for my phone and tap on the FB app. And started scrolling. Down, down, down. How much of what I saw and did on FB contributed to my peace of mind and quality of life? Hardly. I still do that on Instagram now, sometimes, but I’m much more mindful of it, and make effort to occupy my time in other ways instead. Even just mindful breathing is more beneficial than mindless scrolling…
  2. Less struggle with comparison. I don’t like to admit this, but I guess it’s true. Even though it’s easy to say that we shouldn’t compare with others, FB provides us with the perfect platform to do just that. To see what others are up to, and then (consciously or unconsciously) see how we measure up. Especially since I’m starting on a new job, I thought it’d be wise to protect myself from this for the time being. Life is hard enough without having to struggle with more inner demons.
  3. Less emotional roller coasters. I know FB is a source of news for happenings around the world. I know I’d be no different from a mountain tortoise if I did not make effort to find out what’s happening in the world. But I always get so affected by news. The videos, the flashing images, the negativity, the judging, the tragedies… Not being bombarded by depressing images the minute I open an app, needless to say, has had strong impact on my peace of mind too. And I’m sure that would be a greater contribution to world peace than being updated with every single bombing that goes on.
  4. Safe. I didn’t like how FB was showing me ads and sponsors for things and items that I’d be likely to buy/patronise from. I’d like to decide for myself as much as possible thank you very much.

 

The cons:

Facebook allowed me to live with the illusion that my social life was wider than it really was.

By consistently liking posts of an ex-colleague, I could send the message that I still cared about what was going on in their lives. By tagging friends and responding to tagged posts of articles and links, we could still ensure that we were still on the same wavelengths and worldviews, even if we didn’t meet up. A simple thing such as responding to each others’ posts gave us the warrant to tell mutual friends: “Yeah, I still keep in touch with so-and-so… she’s doing…” And the list goes on.

Now I’m realising that I have a group of friends that I had only “kept in touch” with through FB, and without FB, there is a possibility that the “friendship” could be lost forever. I feel like I have to make a decision between letting them become close friends, with whom I would make the effort to meet up with every once in a while, and the “lost into oblivion” category. FB provided the comfortable middle ground of virtual socialisation, which I would not have access to now by virtue of this decision. So I realise that a lot of people are being sucked out of my world.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m happy with my circle of friends and support – thankful for them everyday. It has always been quality over quantity, and I don’t think it’s something that will change soon. I’ll just eventually come to terms with losing this virtual middle ground, and accept that people come and go. That’s life. As long as I don’t forget the ones that truly matter.

 

Conclusion:

I’m so much happier without FB, and it has brought much more pros than cons – at least that’s how I feel for now. No urge to get back into it anytime soon – or ever.

Let’s see how things go. In the meantime – instagram ;p

The Good of Slow and Ambiguity

I wrote this earlier in the year, as a reminder to myself when I was just starting out in the new place.
Remember to give yourself permission to be a beginner.
Remember to give yourself time to adjust.
Remember that everything has a beginning, and not every beginning is a bang.

 photo IMG_8146_zpsdeglefay.jpg

I think it could still apply.
Especially on days when I feel that I “should have everything figured out by now”.
Especially at times when I feel that I have everything figured out and therefore potentially stop myself from being open to new possibilities.

Embracing ambiguity has never been a strong characteristic of our society, and I think we could all do with more of such reminders. Sometimes, there need not be a fixed answer. There need not always be a black and white. Sometimes our emotions are complicated, and sometimes we are all just human. And sometimes the state of figuring things out is more true to who we are than being in a state of knowing everything. So why not leave it as that?

Remember This

Dear Self,

At this point in your life you are standing at a seemingly significant point in your journey. A point where you have plenty of memories to look back on, enough of life’s experiences to learn from, and a future potentially vast enough to look ahead to.

Remember this feeling.

Remember the contentment combined with restlessness, the mash of hope and worry, the mixture of excitement and reluctance.

Remember all these feelings, because they are all you.

They come from what you have experienced, and they will shape what you will experience.

Remember them, because they are unique and you’ll probably (hopefully) never get to experience anything like them again.

Remember them so that when you look back on your journey, another milestone distance later, you can pick out this point and period in your life, and smile. Because you have become better, stronger and braver for having embraced all these feelings at this point.

Breathe into them. Smile at them. Embrace them.

Remember this moment and smile.

(Everything is going to be alright.)

Love,
Your Self.

The Problems of We

The little girl was running around the playground, happy and carefree.

She stopped, as if to think about something.

She went to her bag and took out her prized doll.

At once, the other girls on the playground started staring at what she held in her hands.

An object they didn’t have. Something they would like to get their hands on.

Like moths to a flame, they started edging closer to her. One of them even stretched out her hands, indicating that she would really like to have the doll for herself, never mind that it did not belong to her and that her parents were at the side, calling for her to “don’t snatch people’s things ah!”

What was a joyful play area a moment ago suddenly turned into a tensed battleground.

The laughter and excited screams that filled the air suddenly became tears and crying.

“Would you like to keep your doll? And continue playing on the playground” The mum asked the little girl who was hugging it possessively and protectively. Silently and rather sullenly she nodded her head.

Once the doll was in the bag, the activities of the playground continued. Sliding, climbing, running around with joyful shrieks.

 

 

We could be like the children on the playground – carefree and joyful, enjoying the freedom and possibilities of the world around.

Isn’t it we ourselves who cause our own suffering by taking out, or going to our man-made attachments, and holding on to them? Thinking that what we have is absolutely necessary and refusing to let go?

Let go, and live. We might realise that what we thought was absolutely essential might not be so after all, and life could be that much lighter.

Just some inspired food for thought.

Last Day of School

About 2 weeks ago, school ended for the kids (teachers still have to go to work), and the year-end holidays began. With that also marked my last official day as a mainstream school teacher.

 

What followed was a good, quiet afternoon of coffee and reflection. Reading over the sweet notes from the girls. Thinking about how I would be embracing a new identity, a new profession. Thinking about how I can move on to embrace all the feelings I feel – the anticipation, the excitement, the fear, and the nervousness.

 

 

Everything is so imperfect. As it should be.