Thursday, April 9, 2015

25 before, after or during 25.

A checklist of sorts. 

Lists on the internet are so irresistible. Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed endlessly thrive on this format, and I contribute to an unhealthy percentage of those list readers. So here is one, the quarter century milestone. What I have accomplished and what I am yet to make peace with and things that are still work in progress. This is not something you need to apply to your life, because you and I are as different as different can be. Make your own list.  

1. Parents - this is the big one. Make peace with your parents. Get to know them, as infuriating as it is, get to know their political party preference and their views on homosexuality. Reason with them why you are right or try to see what their point of view is. And if they have, give them credit for how far they have come to accept changes in the society from when they were kids. The last two years of living with my parents gave me tons of opportunity to do this, though it did end in a lot of shouting matches, all in all my dad and I know that we both can think differently and it's not the end of the world. You may even learn how to debate like a grown up. This is the time where you forgive them for all their flawed parenting when you were a teenager, because they were younger and learning too. Nothing can change what you grew up with, let go of that resentment, you can't blame your current life based on their behaviour anymore. 

2. If you have any kind of a job, for the love of everything that is holy - open a savings account. Trust me when I say no one loves spending money on things you want and trips you must take right now more than me, but you gots to save some cash kids. Even $10 a week is $520 at the end of the year, if you plan well that could be a really good plane ticket and trip. Save. And if, you have even more disposable income at the end of the month - invest it. Get a beginner app like robinhood.com which is free stock trading app and start with $100 if that is all you can afford to lose. The joy of making the first $1 on it is the best. 

3. Recognize it when you meet people who you know deep inside are better than you. I have a list of about 5-7 people so far who I have met/or am friends with in real life who I think are the smartest people ever. Also be clear on why you look up to them, try to emulate as far as possible these traits in your everyday life. These are the people you want to bounce your career questions with, or if it's worth moving across countries for the "love of your life". It may not be the same person. One person could be the smartest person career wise, another could be the most informed of the lot, and the third could be someone who has the guts to do things you are never going to be able to do. 

4. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; models, lawyers, bankers, scientists, sailors, whatever floats your boats. And don't worry about if they are going to call you after. Just do it for the fun of it. And if you don't want to/can't kiss them then at least tell them how hot they make you. No body minds being told that they are attractive. 20 seconds of insane courage is all you need. I once told an extremely attractive tall blond guy I spotted at a farmer's market that I thought he looked very handsome. And that's it, just bolted the hell out of there. But so what, it's a great story to tell later. 

5. Be straight up in a potential relationship about what you feel. Just do it, even if it means mosby-ing it and saying I love you on the first date - if that’s how you really feel, say it. Tell them that you want them, directly and not on text. Look at them straight in the face and say I want you and I want to be with you. While other smarter people will tell you it's good to keep some mystery and not to show all your cards right away - but I will tell you it's liberating when all the feelings are out of your head and out in the open. The responsibility of what happens from it suddenly shifts from you. - I did this once, didn't end well but it was totally worth it. - 10/10 would do it again. 

6. Stop trying to live up to what you should be by 25, according to your family/culture or worse the internet. Do your own thing. And don't be upset if what you want for you is exactly what your parents want for you, that's okay too. 

7. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works in some places and how it doesn't in others. Also understand that what definitely works everywhere in the world is being polite to people who wait on you and not being an asshole. 

8. Give people a genuine chance, and a second chance if you must.  

9. Befriend people who are nothing like you, and then amaze yourself by all the things you still have in common with them. 

10. Learn to say no to other people. This is something I still struggle with. But say no when you know you aren't going to want to do it later. If you are anything like me and hate confrontational situations, practice with your friends they will forgive you faster - but don't be a jerk to them just because you can. 

11. Learn to say no to yourself. If you hate skinny jeans; no power in the world is strong enough to make you wear them. Same with heels, or ties. Don't keep smoking or drinking if you are going to feel like shit later, 

12. Find a hobby that makes you look forward to being alone (talking on the phone with your friends is not a hobby). 

13. Try really hard to not be on the internet all day. This is the hardest of the lot. It’s like running. Start slow, a few minutes a day and see how soon you can hit an hour. Imagine that! An hour without internet. And realize how you didn't die by not checking your Instagram every 2 minutes. Interact with people in real life, this is a thing guys, we need to keep it going. 

14. Take advantage of health insurance, and if you don't have it - work towards to getting one. Once you get one you will judge your pre-insured self for living all these years without one. 

15. Freedom is a 3:30am trip to the diner/dhaba with a bunch of strangers you have just met. Equally fun when done with the same group of friends you have hung out with for the last 13 years. 

16. Concerts. Go to all the music festivals you have wanted to. Explore all the music there is and see it live if you are lucky. The patience to stand loud music and overcrowded spaces decreases substantially with age. 

17. But also start collecting music in a reliable way/place. I don’t know what the most reliable format is anymore, but try to. This is music from your high school days that you will always be slightly embarrassed about, all the music you discovered in college. And everything you enjoy now. Maybe start paying for music too, it's kind of cool to own it. 

18. Go out and watch that movie, read that book and listen to that band you lied about already having watched, read or heard. And don't be scared to do things alone, whether it's eating out or watching movies by yourself.

19. Date someone who says I love you first. You could also be the person who says it first, if you aren't usually. It's not a competition. 

20. Suck it up and by a MacBook Pro, and that phone.

21. Leave the country/travel under the premise of 'finding yourself'. This will be unsuccessful. Places do now change people. People change people. Instead, read a lot, have a lot of sex (or don't) (0 or 100, your number means nothing to anyone), drink a lot with people and alone and come home when you start to miss it. 

22. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate you’re every decision, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don't settle for anything less than the 100% of what you can achieve. If your fear is being a terrible dancer, find a really great dancer and make them dance with you and make you look good. This is what the internet is for - to find a plethora of people who have the exact same fear as you and to find out what they did to overcome it. There is a wikihow for everything under the sun. Wikihow does not disappoint. Neither do tumblr-ers, twitter-ers, redditors, quor-ans etc. 

23. Learn how to let go. Just because it fit at one point doesn't mean you need to keep it forever - whether 'it' is your favorite pair of pants or your ex. 

24. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, this could be the fan-mail to your favorite artist or author or telling your boss why you deserve a raise or even to a friend who you don't really keep in touch with but think about a lot. Because life is but a fleeting moment. Like I said before, everyone likes to be told they are loved or admired. 

25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable (this is when those savings will come in handy), end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

My conversation with God.

In the last few years, I have read a handful of books that have impacted me in a deeper way than I imagined they would. Freakonomics for example was something I could not put down, I kept nodding my head in agreement with every theory and also realized how my approach to economics in academia was fueled by the behavioral aspect of it.

Anthem, by Ayn Rand was another that opened my eyes to the power of I.

But nothing could have prepared me for the affirmation that came to my self while reading 'Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch'.

To preface as I always do, I am not a religious person, although I do identify as a Hindu. I read the Bhagwad Gita when I was in high school and realized quickly that a lot of the things that practicing Hindus do in the name of religion are not necessarily aligned with my interpretation of the book. I believe more strongly in spirituality which comes from inside and not by public display of God adoration. So while I believe in evolution I also think that there is some God like being out there who has a terrific sense of humor.

The long and short of this book is, that a man starts to pen down all his problems on a notepad and when he is done, his hands keep moving as if by the will of an unseen force, claiming to be the voice of god, answering all his questions. Getting past this little 'unnatural/abnormal/supernatural' effect is the hardest part of the book, because well, how often has god talked to you and this could easily be something the author conjured up to sell books and make money?

So say, you believe that this is indeed God talking to you, in your language breaking it down for you. Every last question you have had about health, career, money, love and relationships. While it's not a very long dialogue, it took me over a month to read it all because of how heavy some of the explanations are. Not necessarily meant to be absorbed in one reading, but to be used as a reference point. Again, I am not one to defile a book by making notes in the margin, but I wanted to highlight and underline every second sentence in the book either because it was absolutely enlightening or exactly as I rationalize an action in my head.

The book sort of validates a lot of actions that society has conditioned us to believe are 'wrong' but feel so good - but it does not for a minute let you use that as an excuse to be an asshole. Some of the statements towards the second half almost seem like a contradiction to what has been established in the first bit, but upon re-reading you understand they are actually perfectly complimentary.

Here are some of the quotes from 'god' that stood out for me,

About love -
~for it is the nature of people to love, then destroy, then love again that which they value most.
~you have been taught to to live in fear. you have been told about the survival of the fittest and the victory of the strongest and the success of the cleverest. Precious little is said about the glory of the most loving. And so, you strive to be the fittest, strongest, the cleverest-in one way or another- and it you see yourself as something less than this in any situation, you fear loss, for you have been told that to be less is to lose.
~From the highest mountain it has been shouted, in the lowest place its whisper has been heard. through corridors of all human experience has this truth ben echoed; love is the answer. Yet, you have not listened.
~there are no coincidences in the universe.

The power of thought - this is the big one, how your mind, body and soul work in tandem. Every thought you have produces energy, this is something I have always believed in and the book reinforces.
~your life proceeds out of your intentions for it.
~emotion is energy in motion
~be the cause of your experience.
~what you resist persists. what you look at disappears.
~passion is the love of turning being into action. it fuels the engine of creation. it changes concepts to experience.


About relationships - the answers to questions related to relationships are in particular very interesting.
~it is not in the action of another, but in your re-action, that your salvation will be found.
~treating others with love does not necessarily mean allowing others to do as they wish.
~People tend to see in themselves what we see in them. the grander our vision, the grander their willingness to access and display the part of them we have shown to them

About sex - and this is by far my favorite response from 'God'.
~If I didnt want you to play certain games, I wouldn't have given you the toys.
But don't misuse sex for power, or hidden purpose; for ego gratification or domination; for any purpose other than the purest joy and the highest ecstasy, given and shared - which is love.
~Sex is joy, and many of you have made sex everything else but.  Sex is sacred too, but joy and sacredness do mix, they are in fact the same thing, and many of you think they do not.
~Your attitudes about sex form a microcosm of your attitudes about life. Life should be a joy, a celebration, and it has become an experience of fear, anxiety, not enough-ness, envy, rage and tragedy The same can be said about sex. You have shamed sex, as you have shamed life, calling it evil and wicked, rather than the highest gift and the greatest pleasure.

About the so called heroism behind 'suffering in silence' - as well as denying yourself pleasures.
~the original wisdom surrounding suffering in silence has become so perverted that now many believe (and some religions actually teach) that suffering is good, and joy is bad. therefore if someone with cancer keeps it to himself, he is a saint but if some has robust sexuality and celebrates it openly, she is a sinner. (...) You don't like to think of women having robust sexuality, much less celebrate it openly. You would rather see a man dying without a whimper on the battlefield than a woman making love with a whimper in the street.

--

In conclusion - read it when you are ready for it. it has my highest recommendation, but I can see how it is not for everyone.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The opposite of Love.

Of course I am going to blog about it.

The opposite of love, is fear. And today, I'm letting fear win.

We are taught all our lives that love is conditional. That people will only love you if you act a certain way. Everyone from your parents to your teachers tell you that you are desirable if you do the right things and less so if you don't.

So obviously when you're interacting with other human beings who are full of doubt just like yourself, you are subject to their pre-set conditions as well. We can never trust them fully when they say they will never leave you. Because human experience says other wise.
It is why humans love, then destroy then love again. Because we need to know that even after we have destroyed something it will come back and love us. Love sponsors fear sponsors love sponsors fear...

.... and so in the moment you pledge your highest love, you greet your greatest fear.

For the first thing you worry about after saying I Love You is whether you you will hear it back. And if you hear it back, then you begin immediately to worry that the love that you have just found, you will lose. And so all action becomes a reaction - defense against loss.

I hope that one day, I have the courage to let love win. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crescent Moon

“When a boy tells you he loves you for the first time
only to become silent like a folded sheet of tissue paper
not wanting you to decrease him into the truth,
do not crack your face into the fullest crescent moon at the tapered bottom of a blackened sky.
He never meant a single word of any of it.
He is just a boy,
remember?
Only a boy,
do you remember?”

- Edwin Bodney, “When a Boy Tells You He Loves You”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why I eat alone.

Because I don’t need anyone else to tell me that my fajita burrito is perfection.


While a lot of activities are more enjoyable when shared, food fortunately is not one of them. You could have a meal in the presence of others, but their presence has nothing to do with how good my food will taste or how much I will enjoy it.

I love that if I wanted to I could walk into a restaurant and order two appetizers, a soup and a drink, a main and more sides, because I’m gluttony personified. I like to take that hour of the day to disconnect from social pressure of making conversation or even listening to anyone else. Even as an extrovert, sometimes you need a minute to recharge and food does exactly that. To reflect on your own thoughts and read that book, or brainstorm on that really backdated blog.

Eating alone sometimes gets a bad rep, but take it from someone who is reasonably attractive and could get a date every day for a year for every meal, there is nothing sad about it. In fact nothing is more empowering when in this very social world, if you can still do what you want without giving a fuck. Though the real satisfaction comes when you do it not to make a point but to really treat yo self. 

If you can take a person you love, out on a date, it is just as important to treat yourself with the same attention. Go out and eat your favourite food, or try that new restaurant that you've been wanting to try or the diner around the corner that has the greasiest waffle fries and the absolutely artificial but perfect milkshake. You don’t even have to Instagram it. Imagine that. Being able to enjoy your own company is extremely important, to be able to get in touch with yourself, analyse how you have been feeling and where you are headed, or celebrate the complement you received from your boss that day. Phones, conversations, books, and work are all distractions that sometimes come in the way of realizing the little things.


And if you don’t want to do any of this next level thinking stuff, you can always just use the time to enjoy your meal with the satisfaction of knowing that no one will ask you to share it or take a bite out of your food, or a sip of your drink and keep their paws off your plate. 


P.S. : yes that song has nothing to do with the content. I know that. But it's a catchy song. 
If you liked this; let me tell you why you should go watch a movie alone.