#Ideas: Three Ideas to Beat The Awful Feeling from Comparisons

Don’t compare yourself with your friends, isn’t that a utopian statement?’ a friend remarked. I agreed, but added that it was necessary to be content with oneself, and immediately I thought, ‘Look who’s speaking!

Was I content? I couldn’t tell. I can’t. Some days I am, some other days my mind is a mess driving through the exam sheets from grade 2. (I probably don’t even remember it, it must be a constructed memory.)

There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. I don’t quite remember where was it exactly that I came across the term Obsessive Comparative Disorder on the ocean of the internet. I might have landed on an island whose route I have now forgotten. But the island was an exotic one, and perhaps continues to be more exotic as we deal with comparisons every moment of our lives. Thank you social media. (Well, you might have landed here through a social media link, and I have no words to say about this situation. Thank you for clicking and reading.)

But we can all agree that social media has fueled comparative lifestyle, disorders for some extreme cases. The stories our screen tell are, we know, different from what it seems. We all do. We know it. But just can’t deny, it seems.

Even without social media, the comparative nature doesn’t really go away. We’re bred in such a fashion. Remember report cards from school? Who scored 98%? Who stood first in elocution contest? Competition isn’t all bad, but somehow comparison ruins it all. It’s not I scored 90, see thats how much I knew about and how much I didn’t. But rather, she he they scored 94, 89, 70. It began a long time ago, before the advent of socials, and the unlearning is perhaps going to take an even longer time. Time might not be something we can afford to have, given it’s already about who has a better job, went to a better university, has smarter kids, more caring spouse. It doesn’t stop. It looks like an inevitable part of growing up.

It makes us bitter. The things I failed at make me morose – the ones everyone thought I would excel at. It’s not about giving up, but everyone needs a mental mettle and peace to deal with the little yet pinching things. They say it’s about the pauses in between that makes music sound the way it sounds. Pauses.

I pause and then begin to search for ideas. Here are three ideas I like to go through when I come across the punctured mark sheet of my life. However little or big they may be, they hurt. Ouch!

 

Everyone is equally difficult and awkward to be with. – Alain de Botton 

This line often reminds me that it’s okay, everyone feels such emotions and they too fail. We’re all lacking and wanting. Everyone has holes in them.

Here’s a video by Alain de Botton, telling why we should not go to school reunion!

 

We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong. – Peter F. Drucker

A planner may find that his beautiful plans fail because he does not follow through on them. Like so many brilliant people, he believes that ideas move mountains. But bulldozers move mountains; ideas show where the bulldozers should go to work. 
– Peter F. Drucker, Managing Yourself 

These are words from the master of management, Drucker himself taken from the article Managing Yourself complied in HBR’s On Managing Yourself. We all have strengths, it helps to learn them. For some it’s in money management, for some in Kindergarten, for others in decorated palette of food.

I am driven to find my strengths ever time I read these words. I am encouraged to try, to take up activities, and to forgive myself for the earlier mishaps.

 

It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t. – Anita Fain Taylor

This is one of my favorite videos from the World Championship of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International. Failure is a reality, but it doesn’t tell the full story. It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.

There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. But we can beat them, both.

Growing Up #10: What Have We Done to Our Homes?

I’ve always been a fan of retreats, but then it struck me this time. What have we done to our homes that we must go far far away from it to find our peace back? Isn’t home supposed to be the inviolable place we rested our minds, the impermeable barrier that kept us safe, the impervious door no evil could pass?

This is of course not to say travel and retreats are a waste. It’s just very ironic that our schedules have made us their slaves. We’re always connected, and a few minutes of disconnection can feel like a year of missing out.

I’ve been reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and a line from the book about the domestication of wheat strikes so familiar to what technology has done to us:

We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us. 

Perhaps technology has domesticated us. Harari calls us a hackable creature, thanks to technology again. Read about it here.

I’ve known myself as someone who has always loved being home. I might be the classic introvert that personality quizzes describe. I love being at home – wiping dust off the book shelf, arranging and rearranging toiletries on the rack, or just playing the keyboard.

These days though I find stress creeping into the walls of my room, insecurity emerging out of social media taking over my dusty study desk, unnecessary emails gnawing up my creating time.

And I ask myself, what have I done to my home?

I must change it. It must be changed. Drawing lines – it might just be as simple, undecorated and acetic as that. Just as hard.


Growing Up is a weekly series on well, growing up, published every Saturday (Cheat week this Week as I wrote this on a Tuesday). It’s been 10 consecutive weeks I’ve been writing this specific column in my blog here. Can’t believe it’s 10 weeks already. They were right: time passes any way.  

It’s That Time of The Year

It is that time of the year when we say, shockingly, surprisingly or sadly, “It’s the year end already!” “How fast time flies!” And I begin to wonder how should I wish the world the start of a new calendar.

I do not understand what time does to us, or is it our brains? I can still remember the first week of 2018, I had a different job and I was performing poetry one cold evening surrounded by my lovely colleagues.

2018 was a year of change, of confusion, and of challenge. It was heart breaking at times, and other times liberating. At times it filled me with despair and other times it made be feel like a warrior. It taught me to plan, and then to let go of the plan when it failed. It was what literary books would call coming of age, at 25 instead of 15, a year when I came face to face with many of my values boiling inside.

It was the year I decided I need to go meditate and I spent 10 days aloof of the world, but so much enriched from within. It was the year I panicked and quarter life crisis was the major topic of discussion, literally everywhere. I bought many books to solve it, just as much as I tried to tie time by crossing off things on the list of life that should have happened, only to realize letting time flow is the most important thing I can do. It was also the year I realized how savvy I am at saving. I should hold on to this more often.

It was also the year I finally joined Toastmasters after 7 years of coming to know about the club(s). The year I socialized so much that the 15 year old me would be shocked.

It was also the year I came across some wonderful people and ideas, and learnt to map my life in ways I could not have imagined.
It was the year I felt more comfortable in my skin.

The year the vastness of the universe terrified me, and the year I became a part of the vastness.

As I spend the last day of 2018, I realize how my spelling and grammar have gotten worse, and I haven’t gotten past one paragraph without a single error as I write this. Auto correct! It’s a sign to write more longhand. Maybe it is time to gather the courage spread across all veins.

2018 was the year I expected to go to grad school, only to realize I have already been enrolled at the School called Life.

Happy 2019!

Peeled Skin

Layer after layer,
skin everywhere
peeled from one another.

As the layers are gone
so are the burdens with it.
Everything’s lighter now.

The peeling, indeed tough,
but the result much better.


I identify myself as an introvert. Much of my life I believed I couldn’t walk up and strike a conversation with anyone. Why would anyone ever want to listen to my awkward words. So I stayed put. It harmed me most of all. I closed myself to opportunities and ideas that could not just interest me but enchant me. I’m thankful the jobs I’ve taken up somehow requires me to break the barrier by peeling my own skin. Painful it was and it still is, but I enjoy it better. I know how wonderful things can be. I look on the brighter side now.