An Ode to Celebrating Yourself in All Body Sizes

Photo by Anna Shvets

An Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker visited me today. She wanted to check if I took both my COVID-19 vaccination doses. I am incredibly thankful that activists in India are checking on us. A question she asked surprised me, however.

Did you lose weight?

A person whom I met once around 6 months ago remembered how I looked. It does not matter if you are plus-sized or a size zero; people remember your body size. It is a part of you.

She told me my face looked “fuller” before, hinting that she preferred my chubby cheeks.

Did you gain weight?

This question is what I got asked 6 months before by family, friends, relatives, even small kids. You would think kids do not care about body size, but there they are, commenting about how much weight you have gained.

They told me my face looked too “full,” hinting they preferred seeing me without my chubby cheeks.

Everywhere you go, people judge you for your body size. No one tells you, “You have the perfect body size.” So it is up to us to deem ourselves perfect in all sizes.

Being body positive means not to let “tags” define or trigger you. It means to accept yourself in all body sizes, whatever it chooses to evolve into tomorrow.

When people say I look thin, I say yes. When people say I have gained weight, I say yes. I am okay with both. They can pass their judgments or statements. It does not matter because I am comfortable with any form my body chooses to be.

Such open questions on weight are not going anywhere, unfortunately. I remember seeing a video by Supriya (@Supaarwoman) on Insta. She said when people call her fat, she tells them, “I am not going to take that as an insult because that’s my body type. You are just saying out loud what my body type is. Why should I be ashamed of my body type?” When you think of it that way, you realize that what she said makes a lot of sense.

When someone simply states your body type (aka “you are fat” or “you are thin”), why consider it as body shaming or an insult? When you take that power away from the perpetrator, and you truly embrace yourself for who you are, you become empowered.

Own your body type. When you do, you become body positive to the fullest degree.

An Ode to Freelancing and Its Biggest Benefit – The Freedom It Gives You!

Photo by Viktoria Slowikowska on Pexels

My dream is to get back to freelancing one day.

Having done it before, I know how fulfilling it can be. There are many advantages of being your own boss. You decide what projects to take up. You decide whether to say yes or no to a client. You decide how much time you want to spend on your work.

I started doing freelance work around 10 years back. I began my journey by carrying out some research on the best freelancer websites. Finally, I registered on Fiverr and instantly got some clients because of my portfolio. It was easier back then to find customers, unlike today, when the competition is fierce.

I was a freelance content writer. My work on Fiverr involved creating marketing copies for startups. My clients appreciated my work and gave me good reviews. Looking back, I am so proud of myself for getting the freelance writing gigs on my own. When I got my first $100 from freelancing, I felt on top of the moon. Frankly, even if it were just $10, I would have felt elated because this was proof that I could survive independently. It gave me confidence.

Throughout our life, we are on the lookout for confirmation that we are well equipped to face any challenges that come our way. We are skeptical, though, because we were never taught to venture out on our own. There was always someone to help us, guide us at every stage of our life – at school, competitions, college, corporate life. We could depend on someone (a parent or a teacher, or a manager) to help us out.

With freelancing, you are on your own.

You have to figure things out.

You have to decide how to get money.

You have to research and find out what sells.

It’s all you!

To be a successful freelancer, you need to hustle.

Needless to say, every little profit you get out of it feels like a big deal. Plus, the freedom to work from home and the ultimate control you have over your work is unmatched.

Freelancing is special. It gives you that sense of achievement and fulfillment when work starts coming your way. It is the feeling I yearn for now.

I stopped freelancing 2 years after starting it. The reasons being, my sleep cycle got messed up, and the pay did not match my hard work at the time. I would sleep at 5 AM and wake up at noon. There was no discipline in my life. I had a few passive income streams that paid a few bills, but more was needed. That’s when I decided to get back into the corporate world. I thought I would continue with my side hustles. But life had other plans. My work responsibilities at my day job increased. I had no time left for something I enjoyed.

Does freelancing count as work experience? Does it help your career? Let me tell you this. I got my job after the recruiter saw my freelancing work. All the hard work paid off. I know many freelancers (web developers, graphic designers, writers) getting a corporate job after building a solid portfolio of impressive projects. So I would consider it as a work experience. People are afraid of mentioning “freelancer” in their work resume. They are afraid that the recruiters might think it is a fancy way to say you haven’t worked for some time. The best way to prove naysayers wrong is by building a good portfolio of your freelancing work. No recruiter would say no to a freelancer who has done notable work.

Does freelancing pay well? Yes, it does. Freelancing is hard though, and it is not for everyone. Start small and easy. When you start getting overbooked for a month or two, increase your rate by 10-15%. You don’t have to wait till the annual performance review to get a raise!

Freelancing is the future of work. People are quitting big corporate jobs because working for yourself is mentally more peaceful. I would love to get back to it one day to be my own boss again.

There’s a funny quote out there that goes “I can’t wait to earn a lot of money and quit. So I can start doing the work I like.” Truer words have never been spoken.

An Ode to 17 Thought-Provoking Life Quotes from Fredrik Backman’s Beartown

Photo by Tony Schnagl on Pexels

I am a big fan of Fredrik Backman, even though I have read only 2 of his books.

The first one was A Man Called Ove. I completed the second one quite recently. It is a beautiful, emotional, intense story of a sleepy little cold town called Beartown. A place where people are laidback in all things except one – ice hockey. Their love for the sport transcends everything. It reminds me of professional football club fans. The same passion, the same energy, the same love. The same disappointment when their team loses or when a controversy pops up. If you are a sports fan or know someone who is, you would find this book extremely relatable.

Fredrik Backman is a genius when it comes to explaining moments and expressing emotions. I got goosebumps while reading through many of the quotes in Beartown.

I am listing some of my favorites here.

“The only thing the sport gives us are moments. But what the hell is life, Peter, apart from moments?”

“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.”

“Religion is something between you and other people; it’s full of interpretations and theories and opinions. But faith … that’s just between you and God.”

“People sometimes say that sorrow is mental but longing is physical. One is a wound, the other an amputated limb, a withered petal compared to a snapped stem.”

“One of all the terrible effects of grief is that we interpret its absence as egotism. It’s impossible to explain what you have to do in order to carry on after a funeral, how to put the pieces of a family back together again, how to live with the jagged edges. So what do you end up asking for? You ask for a good day. One single good day. A few hours of amnesia.”

“In a few years’ time she’ll read an old newspaper article about research showing that the part of the brain that registers physical pain is the same part that registers jealousy. And then Ana will understand why she hurt so badly.”

“A great deal is expected of anyone who’s been given a lot.”

“Community is the fact that we work towards the same goal, that we accept our respective roles in order to reach it. Values is the fact that we trust each other. That we love each other.”

“If Peter has learned one thing about human nature during all his years in hockey, it’s that almost everyone regards themselves as a good team player, but that very few indeed understand what that really means.”

“When you can accept the worst aspects of your teammates because you love the collective, that’s when you’re a team player.”

“Because the thing you can never be prepared for when you have children is your increased sensitivity. Not just feeling, but hypersensitivity. He didn’t know he was capable of feeling this much, to the point where he can hardly bear to be in his own skin.”

“One of the first things you learn as a leader, whether you choose the position or have it forced upon you, is that leadership is as much about what you don’t say as what you do say.”

“The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard. It makes demands. Hate is simple.”

“Every child in every town in every country has at some point played games that are dangerous to the point of being lethal. Every gang of friends includes someone who always takes things too far, who is the first to jump from the highest rock, the last to jump across the rails when the train comes. That child isn’t the bravest, just the least frightened. And possibly the one who feels he or she doesn’t have as much to lose as the others.”

“The simplest and truest thing David knows about hockey is that teams win games. It doesn’t matter how good a coach’s tactics are: if they’re to stand any chance of working, first the players need to believe in them.”

“Fighting isn’t hard. It’s the starting and stopping that are hard.”

“There are few words that are harder to explain than ‘loyalty’. It’s always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other occur because of the same thing.”

An Ode to Saying Please and Thank You at Work

Say Thank You at Work
Photo by Polina Zimmerman

How often have we dealt with authoritative emails at work?

The ones that sound unnecessarily aggressive and bossy, instead of courteous yet firm.

After my previous rant on surviving performance reviews, I looked into a couple of emails of supervisors generally well-liked at the office, and those who weren’t.

The ones who were liked (Batch A), were polite and empathetic in their emails:

  • Could you please finish this task by Saturday?
  • Thank you for completing this!

In contrast, the ones who weren’t liked (Batch B), wrote their emails like this:

  • Do this by Saturday!
  • Dead silence after completing any task

See the difference? Would you like to get emails from Batch B? No one is fond of unnecessary aggression.

It is such a refresher nowadays to hear supervisors being polite. A “Thank you” or a “Please,” even if formal makes you look humane and not cold and distant. It motivates employees to do better. Politeness does not mean being weak. You can be firm and polite!

Something Batch A does often (to show the emergency of the situation):

  • Please send this across by Saturday! This is very important.

No unwanted aggression here. A simple message that conveys the seriousness of the task. Most people are smart enough to get the gist of such a message.

Employees perform their best when their supervisors are empathetic and kind. The attrition rate (the rate at which people leave) is always high in companies with bad managers. A 2016 survey in India showed that employees are willing to stay longer and work harder if they were well appreciated in their companies. About 59% felt they were unappreciated by their bosses. That’s more than half of the survey sample! No small number there. Sometimes, all it takes is a “thank you” or a “please,” to make things better.

So why are we so stingy with appreciating others or using cordial language at work?

Each supervisor is shaped by their own experiences in the corporate world. Some might have faced similar situations, a boss being too self-centered or supercilious or manipulative, and they end up thinking this is the only way to climb up the career ladder.

Sadly, this is partially true.

A recent study disturbingly stated that narcissistic, manipulative people tend to become CEOs faster (29% more) than their less self-entitled peers. We look at people at the top for inspiration, and we see a lot of them acting entitled and impolite, and we think “That’s how we become successful.

But is it really? Is this the downside of being successful? Should we dump our emotions, empathy, kindness in the garbage in the quest for power?

I have been in the corporate world for so long, and I have seen and experienced so much, that the first thought when I see a CEO or a leader on LinkedIn is not Wow! I want to be this person,” but “How many people did you demotivate and destroy to reach where you are? How many fake stories have you cooked up to save yourself, by shifting the blame onto your juniors? How good are you at playing politics in office?” This seems very dark and harsh I know. But it is mostly the truth. There are exceptions but the many leaders I have seen have sold their souls to the corporate devil. They will do anything to get on the super boss’ good books and won’t hesitate to drag anyone else down in the process.

Sometimes, from what I have seen, I feel it’s best to stay away from the rat race.

So you don’t end up becoming a rat.