An Ode to Being Selfishly Independent

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“Why don’t you get married? It will make your parents happy. It is selfish not to think about them.”

“If not now, then when?”

“Your biological clock is ticking. We need to see our grandchildren before we die.”

These are some dialogues, I and many, have heard at least once in our lifetime.

Now if we marry someone outside our religion or caste, the society chimes in with:

“The poor parents. Their child married someone from a different religion. Why don’t kids understand the sacrifices parents make?”

Your happiness gets the least precedence.

We are almost always emotionally blackmailed into following the norms set up by society. The questions and self-doubts then arise in our mind – “Why am I so weird? Why don’t I feel happy following what others are following” You think – “If so many people are saying the same thing, it must be right,” – when the truth is something else.

It took some unlearning for me to realize, there are no fixed protocols to be followed to live a happy, fulfilling life. No researcher has written a book saying “this is how everyone should behave or else the world would crumble in a day” Rules are formed because they make life less confusing, but they do not necessarily make life more fulfilling.

The blueprint of life is out there – study, study some more, get a job, get married, have children, work until you die. There are examples to follow, whereas, for someone who is single, there is no chart as such – you work, and then what? This lack of clarity, makes many shy away from choosing a different life. People want stability, and following the rules makes them believe they have certainty in their life, irrespective of whether they are mentally at peace or not.

After studies are done, an adult should have the freedom to chart his own blueprint. Conditions apply, of course. If the adult wants to be a terrorist, having his own blueprint would be a disaster.

I am saddened that society made me doubt myself for so long (I’m in my 30s) by indoctrinating me with the feeling that I, on my own, am not good enough. I need a partner, followed by kids, to be termed complete. We see so many celebrating their wedding, engagement anniversaries but have we seen anyone say “Yay! I have been happily single for a year now!” Obviously not, because we have been conditioned to believe, being single and happy is not something to celebrate.

Time and again, I have seen many friends being forced by their parents into marriage, jobs, religious practices, and then living an unhappy life afterward. And the irony is, they haven’t learned from this. The tradition will continue to the next generation from what I have deciphered from their talks. Because society has taught them this is the norm, this is the way it should be, and they should follow it, no questions asked.

It is all so subjective, this happiness. But more often than not, we have to mold them as per societal constructs, even if it is not what we are ready for at the moment. Forcing can make an individual follow the path you want, but the gratification you hope they would achieve through this process can likely be lost. The whole exercise (be it anything) loses its meaning if it has to be drilled down and is not coming from the heart.

Why are we following everything to a tee, to make others happy, when we ourselves get only one chance to live the way we want?

Why aren’t we giving enough freedom for our kids to think, to choose?

Why aren’t we giving enough importance to our happiness? If not in this life, then when?

Isn’t it selfish to demand your loved ones, who are now adults, to unquestioningly follow the rules you have set or the dreams you have selfishly conjured up in your mind for them?

I have stopped falling into this trap. I am no saint and I don’t aim to be. And I hope everyone gets a chance to be selfishly independent too – to realize how insanely happy and beautiful this life can be, just the way it should be.

An Ode to Your Controversial History

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Time and again, we see an article about a well-known person having a controversial history. You hold it against them thinking they must have never learned or risen above it. “So and so said this or that ridiculous thing 10 years back or 20 years back. They are not what they look like!

People change over time. I can say for myself that my beliefs 10 years back aren’t the same as now. I have evolved and learned from my mistakes. I used to say the weirdest things, which when I look back at now, make me cringe into oblivion. It helped that I had a written version of all these thoughts (one of the few times I would like to thank social media), but since many don’t, you never get to recap on your judgments and think “What all shit did I say back then!” It is not the same for a celebrity though. Every single thing done or said by them is chronicled.

Sometimes I am glad I am not a celebrity. There is no one keeping a record of what I am saying and I have no fear of someone putting it on a big banner and exhibiting it in front of me many years from now when I am trying to progress in life.

Some people don’t learn, but should the default thinking be always pessimistic?

A controversial history could have been a very valuable lesson for the person. But how can they move on if society will not allow them to? At every road and juncture, they are reminded of what they said years ago – back when they didn’t know any better. Imagine that happening to us – someone continually reminding us of our failed relationships or divorce or mistakes.

Instead of judging by their past, analyze them by their current events, behavior, and personality. That will hold more true than outdated facts.

An Ode to Unexplained Feelings

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Is it not unsettling that what we feel can never be expressed entirely with words?

Imagine feeling the whole world, and when you express it, it turns out less than whole – as small, grainy and flighty as sand. Most of the finest specks, lost in translation.

We are only subjected to someone’s surface-level emotions. The tip of an iceberg. Never truly getting to experience the depths.

People often say if given a superpower, they would like to read other’s minds. But how reliable are those thoughts? They can be inaccurate and flippant. You might feel pain, but the comments flaring in your mind might be that of anger. You might feel happiness, but your thoughts could counter with a cynical “Is this too good to be true?” Thoughts can be contradicting, untrue and a spoilsport. Feelings, though – they are as true as they can get.

I would rather feel what people are feeling – in its entirety. Feelings won’t lie even if you desperately wish they would. What we feel inside is the purest, most concentrated form of emotion. When we try to assemble our feelings into words, we dilute the essence by half. When we let it out, we lose more, depending on how skilled you are with the spoken language. Then it is up to the recipient to preserve the remaining as is or interpret it in a totally different way. A game of Chinese Whispers. This is why we are often left stunned, when a loved one misunderstands you, because what you feel is totally different from what they have interpreted it to be. Words can be beautiful but they are equally constricting.

I sometimes wonder if something like an emotion tester (let’s call it a feel-o-meter) would have made us less judgmental and more compassionate. A device that can measure the intensity of someone’s emotions.

  • To appreciate those who stay quiet but are filled up to the brim with love.
  • To recognize those who sweet talk but feel nothing.
  • To understand that someone’s pain is just that – pain, and nothing else – no manipulation, no faking involved.
  • To understand someone’s anger is more than just anger – it is a deep-rooted sadness.
  • To understand that someone’s inability to express is not apathy but an internal struggle with overwhelming emotions.

People mostly use their reckless judgment to analyze whether someone is being genuine or not.

  • We could be crying, but someone would say “Stop acting”
  • We could be hurt, but people would say “You are overreacting”
  • We could genuinely be sorry but someone would say “You don’t mean it”

We make up these little disapproving stories in our mind about a person, to suit our whims and fancies, without really knowing the truth. There is so much time wasted in this period between judgment and knowing. And who is to blame? Us for being unable to reveal our feelings in its totality, or them for not seeing our unadulterated feelings?

An Ode to Love Languages

My 5 Love Languages Test Result

The 5 Love Languages Test is something I stumbled across recently. Give it a go if you have nothing better to do this weekend. Mine is quite accurate, quality time is an absolute essential for me.

The whole idea behind the quiz is that love languages can clash: your way of showing love is not your partner’s way. For example, gifts are not a must for me at all. Just some quality time would do. This need not be the same for everyone. I know many who absolutely adore gifts. Some like a lot of physical touch, whereas others don’t. Some would want words of affirmation, whereas for others actions mean a lot more than words.

I believe knowing your partner’s love language can help in understanding them better. Why they don’t express the way you want them to, why the things you do are never enough for them etc. Maybe how you display love is different from their perception of love. Different people, different wants.

Maybe the love is there, but we are not seeing it because we are scrutinizing it with our own definition of love.