8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Thirteen

 

They say “Life is a marathon”. What they don’t really say is, “It really does not matter on which position you are when you finish it. The important thing is that you finish what you started.” Everyone tells you the first part. The second part, however, is something we are often left to discover on our own. While some wise folks inhabiting this planet realize this pretty early on, others spend most of their time trying to win at something they will never be rewarded for. Not even with contentment! When I was a teenager, I was told several things that made me ambitious. My family, like countless others, judges my success (or lack of it) based on what other people of my age are doing. For instance: I scored 93.2% in 10th boards with a perfect 100 in Sanskrit. I didn’t top my class. I ranked 4th. While I was pretty okay about my score, my family wasn’t, for two reasons: One, I didn’t top and Two, I scored 100 in Sanskrit and not Math or Science (The important subjects! Duh!)

In retrospection, being told to work hard and compete and conquer doesn’t really seem a bad thing now in the current circumstances. Such motivating (albeit critical) words always encouraged me to seek greater things despite adverse situations instead of just giving up and settling for things I find rather mediocre. However, as I look back in time, there are also certain things I wish I had known when I was a teenager. Over the years, I have undergone various experiences. I have committed a number of mistakes that I am not proud of and made several choices that have led me to pat my own back. All of these, together, have made me who I am today. But could I have done better? Yes. I wish I someone had told me that

 

1. There’s no such thing as “spending enough time with your family”

I moved out of my house when I was 15 years old and finally moved back in when I turned 23. I hadn’t been as homesick during those 8 years as I feel now. It took me eight long years to realize what I have been missing out on. There was a time when I would long to make plans with friends. Today, most of my plans include my mother. I look forward to those 6-8 days every year when my entire family would be together. Thing is, as you grow up, you realize that your parents are not going to be with you forever. This, is a very hard-hitting and immensely unsettling realization that changes your attitude towards your parents for good. Although, I do realize it now, I kind of wish I had known how important this is, when I was in school.

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2.  It ain’t very cool to be fixated on the idea of “friendship”

There was a time in my life, when my friends were extremely important to me. Sometimes, I’d avoid my family for them or lie for them (which isn’t always a bad thing). I was very emotional when it came to them. I had an acronym after my gang members’ first names and even made an email id (four, actually) using that acronym. And then, like it always does, life happened. Today, I am in touch with just one of those 4-5 people I used to be so fixated upon. I have made several friends in the last decade and separated with most of them for good – Painfully, more often than not. If you’re anything like I used to be, let me burst your bubble right now, Friendships Last, no matter what. Ones that end were never really there. Not everything done and said in good faith, with a good heart can be called “friendship”. I have few friends now – limited but close and very important. And I learnt how much cooler THIS is, the hard way.

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3. Not having a hobby will affect your persona.

I discovered that I wanted to explore writing in 9th grade. I didn’t do anything about it. I wrote some shitty poetry in 12th grade in a notebook. But I still didn’t think I should try and refine it. It was only towards the beginning of second year of my graduation that I actually began to nurture my hobby. I created a blog and wrote at regular intervals, participated in writing contests, won a couple of times and got a story published as well. And then, like it always does, life happened. My attention shifted to other, more important things and I couldn’t pay attention to writing at all. But even that short period of nurturing a hobby will go a long way for me. It has often become a vital piece of conversation in several interviews. People who had never socialized with me often drop me a message saying that they like what I write. The busier I got with studies and job hunts and work, the more treasured writing became for me. Today, it’s an escape for me. The status updates that I post on Facebook or things I tweet are actually my CPR attempts at saving my hobby from dying. I just wish that if I had paid attention to my hobby and started developing it from 9th grade onward, I would have been able to take my relationship with writing to the next level by now.

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4. You Love More Than Once

The adolescence of my generation was practically ruined by Bollywood which implanted the idea of “One Love” in our minds. That love seemed so magical that everyone wanted to have it. And so rare and inimitable that we tried hard to preserve it, no matter how ugly it got, and repented for months if we lost it. I was no different. My first break up took a toll on me. I became an emotional wreck and it took me 15 months to recover from it completely. Only, it was too late by then. My marks had already come down to 84.2% in 12th from 93.2% in 10th. I did manage to get into Miranda House, but that’s not what I had in mind. I wish, back then, someone had brainwashed me and told me that I would love again, that loss is a part of love too, that what I am doing to myself is irreversible, that it is unfair for me to not love my studies and my career more than a boy, that he isn’t going to be the last person to love me, that the last thing I wanna do is continue being in an unhealthy relationship or make a big deal out of a break-up.

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5. There’s no greater gift you can give to yourself than the “habit of reading”

This one, I regret the most! Too less time in this world, too many incredible books to read! Sigh. If only, I had cultivated the habit of reading much, much sooner. Reading not only enhances your mind and your personality, it also makes you allergic to stupidity and naivety. Of course, it sets your expectations from people really high and makes it very difficult for you to find someone who’d come even close to them, let alone exceed them. (That’s the only downside of reading a lot!)

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6. Your lifestyle is the key to how far and above you can go.

Quite literally, in my case. I have always been over-weight. I have always been told to shed the extra weight. I have often realized this myself as well. I eat wrong, I sleep wrong, I don’t work-out like I should. And I have always been told to set things right. Problem is, nobody ever told me the “right” reason – a reason that would resonate with me. They told me I need to lose weight to look good or to be able to buy clothes easily. They said I needed to lose weight so that my legs won’t look so plump when I wear a dress or so I would look beautiful (like I wasn’t already?)

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For most people, being over-weight implies ‘not looking your best’. That couldn’t be less true! What they don’t tell you is the real reason one needs to lose weight – to feel and remain fit. Now here’s the catch, it applies to *drum roll* EVERYONE! Not just people who are obese but ANY person who has an unhealthy lifestyle. Fitness has nothing to do with how you look. Your weight is ONLY A PART reflector of your fitness. You smoke, you drink a lot, you eat plenty of junk, you sleep for 2 hours a day, you lack the strength to lift weights and you think obese people are the only ones unfit? HAHAHAHAHA!

Anyway, it took me years to realize that I need to lose weight to be able to do things I want to do like go on a trek, not go out of breath after climbing a few flights of stairs, to be able to swim, to feel energized and fit, to reduce the pressure on my knee (which started the whole realization). Well, it’s not too late now, but it could have been earlier as well.

 

7. Grammar is important

I still remember the classes I took for the VA section of CAT. I have never felt so stupid in my entire life. I had been saying the wrong things over and over again for several years. Imagine the number of people who incorporated those sentences, after listening to me, in their day-to-day lives! I had to appear for the exam so I worked pretty hard to correct those mistakes. But there are several people, who have been educated in English medium schools and still use “didn’t told”. And trust me, it’s very, very hard to change that. I tried to correct one person’s grammar for two years in vain. Believe it or not, flawless grammar is an aphrodisiac for an intellectual mind.

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8. Having the guts to fail is just as important as having the will to succeed.

The teenager in me wanted to become a Civil Servant. In fact, when it was time to choose between “Kota” and “Delhi University”, I chose the latter for that reason alone. But when I went to the second year of my graduation, I started becoming aware of the fact that I may fail in my attempt to become a Civil Servant. This fear is what led me to look for back-ups. I opted for MBA. I never even realized the moment when my Plan-B actually turned into Plan-A. I became a part of the herd. Wanting to get placed became my sole objective when all this while, I knew that I am so not a 9-5 person! (9-8 actually) It was only when my inner voice screamed at me for cutting it out and taking the leap that I finally decided to let go of things that were holding me back. Yes, I am susceptible to failure. And no, I am not afraid. Yes, I fall quite often. And no, I will not give up this time. In the world where everyone is after something, I choose to run after my true calling, a bit late, but I do.

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While this may seem like a post that expresses my regrets, it’s actually a post full of realizations about things that, if I were to start pursuing before I actually did them, I would have become a much better version of myself as compared to who I am today. In my marathon of life, I rested too often, took a few wrong turns, bruised a bit, helped a fellow runner, healed myself, but, I kept moving forward, continued to believe in love and humanity and gave up the idea of “giving up in life”. Come to think of it, coming down to your knees isn’t a bad thing in life. In fact, it’s just a transition stage when you’re trying to get back up after you’ve had a great fall. After all, chaos isn’t a pit.

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Valar Morghulis!

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Sting for Space

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Artwork by: Paula M.

 

I compared our love to steady mountains and perennial brooks.

I thought it was as deep as oceans and Hosseini’s books

As dreamy as the stars, as unique as the moon,

Beautiful like this life and reassuring as “I’ll see you soon”.

But I was wrong, in ways more than one.

For out of these, our love was none.

It wasn’t as mighty or poetic or eternal as I thought it to be.

But just like a stack of movies overcrowding internal disks D and E.

Collected and preserved with a promise to savor

But a new movie allegedly receiving the favor

Never deleting them, just not letting them go

But to make way, Honey, I’ve got to clear the snow!

So I ripped off the Band-Aid; Quick and Painless.

LOL. Just quick, I was kidding about the “painless”.

Exchange the sting for space, and you’ve got a heavenly deal!

For the world is way too much to fit in our tiny ordeal.

Book Review : The Bottom Line

Cover Page : The Bottom LineCover Page : The Bottom Line

Author: Sonu V C

Genre: Self Help, Philosophy

Rating: 3.5/5

Stretched over a one hundred and four pages, The Bottom Line is a quick read which, by the time you have finished only half of it, leaves you pondering over a number of questions about your not-so-uncommon attitude towards your life.

I liked the book in parts. There were moments when I felt the book had something insightful to offer; something I always knew but had never thought about before. But then, there were parts where I thought I was left with endless questions without any answers and without a guided thought process. May be that was the aim of the author; to keep the readers engrossed in some introspection in an endeavor to discover the seemingly hard-to-find answers.

The Bottom Line, as the name suggests, talks about “the bottom line” or the ultimate aim of life; distinguishing the aim or the end with the means to achieve the desired end. With a number of practical examples, the author quite successfully convinces the reader that there is something wrong with the way we live. In the process of achieving our goals, we end up focusing more on the means or the medium to achieve them, instead of the goals themselves. He further moves on to drop candid hints about what precisely is/should be the bottom line of every life: Selfless Life. At this point, I’d like to add a little about the author.  Sonu V C, at a very young age of 25, is the founder of Deepika Foundation, an organization which aims at bringing light in the lives of many by working in the areas of education, health and livelihood. You see? He’s a man who practices what he preaches.

It would quite wrong to say that The Bottom Line is a satisfactory read. In fact, it is a book that will bring you one step closer to attaining contentment. Do spare an hour and pick this book. It can be purchased online from any of the links below.

 Flipkart

URead

BookAdda

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P.S This book supports Deepika Foundation. As contribution to the society and humankind at large, 10% of the revenue generated through sales of this book will go as proceed to the foundation.

 

Click to view the Facebook Page and Blog Page of the book.

 

Finally, a special thanks to Mr. Yatin Gupta for sending me this book. 🙂 🙂 ( Twitter Handle : @iYatinGupta )

Surpassing Vanity

One moment, I look ahead

A million stories run behind me

And a thousand others beside me.

I turn, but nothing changes.

Nothing but the direction,

Where I now gaze.

Some explicit tales,

Plethora of tacit ones –

Incessantly narrated.

Nothing changes.

So why should I?

Care to turn back

Care to confront

In a world where,

Assumptions guide notions

And story breeds stories.

 

 

Book Review : Tuesdays with Morrie

Author : Mitch Albom

Genre : Self-help, Inspirational.

Rating : 4/5

Mitch Albom is one of those millions of people who are lost somewhere in the monotony of life. A sports columnist by profession, he has reduced his life to a mere rat-chase. He is vehemently engrossed in his professional life, ignoring his wife and all the other little things that once held an importance in his life; pricking every single bubble that ever dared to glide. He does not have the slightest hint of what he has been missing out on life until one day, he comes across a TV interview of his former professor, Morrie Schwartz. Morrie was suffering from ALS and was counting the last days of his life. Mitch is, at once, reminded of his days at school and the promise he made to Morrie to stay in touch and he sets out to see his old dying Professor. “Coach”, as Mitch calls Morrie, still edifies him every Tuesday about Life’s little but great lessons.

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is a true account of rediscovering oneself, through the words of Morrie, in the ocean of life. It’s a book that teaches you about the value of life in the context of death. Bit by bit, as the chapters unfold, you smile and you cry, and by the time you reach the end of the book, you know what really matters. And it gets you thinking about the aspects of life that you have never really thought of before. Honestly, this 192-page text is beyond a mere book; it envelops a beautiful relationship between a teacher and his student and the precious, wise and yet simple expressions of a magnanimous soul in a decaying body that just cannot be “reviewed”. Brimming with sweetness amidst the bitter truth, Tuesdays with Morrie is a feel-good book that will leave you a little better than you already are. 🙂

P.S. You can get an e-book here. Hope you enjoy reading 🙂