Counting Down… Endlessly.

“I’m not alone.”

I say that because it’s what’s kept me sane for so long. As we went through lockdown and phases of reopening, my heart felt okay because I wasn’t alone. If I needed help, if I needed a hug, if I needed nothing but another human body to sit within my line of sight – I had someone.

I told myself every day that it made all the difference. For months, it really did. But as we continue to struggle with a world we didn’t think we’d ever encounter, it’s not working. My reasons, my excuses, my ability to convince myself – they don’t make sense anymore.

To no reflection of the person sitting with me, holding my hand and telling me it’ll be okay, I find myself feeling not okay.

People have different relationships that they’ve been stranded away from. I’m now counting 6 months since I last saw my parents. 6 months since I was home with them. 6 months since I last cuddled my aging dog. It’s the longest I’ve ever been separated from any of them but that’s not the problem.

The 6 months I’ve stayed apart has already passed. I’ve lived through it. Can’t change anything about it. It’s the future.

April 2020 – I told myself I’ll be with them by October. Flights will resume. The world will be healing.

June 2020 – I told myself I’ll be with them by December. It’s slower but everything will be fine.

We’re at the end of July – February 2021 seems almost unrealistic. Like something I can’t plan for because I don’t know if the world will heal – by then, if ever at all. I’ve watched my friends who live alone struggle with the depression that came from the negative news cycles. I encouraged them to remain positive. To not absorb it. I told them when restaurants opened, I’ll be there for a cup of coffee, maybe some cake?

But somehow, it was the opening of things that really made all the difference. When life showed me a glimpse of normal, I felt trapped – it was like dangling a dream in front of me that I couldn’t grasp. I could go out, I could meet people, I could laugh and giggle and have the time of my life – just not with my family.

I can’t get on an impulsive flight over a weekend because I missed my dog too much. I can’t go running to my Mom when my brain was overworked. I can’t be sitting across my Dad in conversation about my understanding of the world.

Before the pandemic, I got through long weeks by counting down days until my next flight home. I can’t do that anymore. For every week that passes, months add on. And that flight… it seems farther and farther away.

Maybe, at almost 28, it sounds ridiculous. Maybe, almost married, it sounds immature. Maybe, my parents are right, how could I be such a baby and cry?

But of all the things that COVID has thrown my way, healing a part of the world and not the rest has been the toughest to deal with.

I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to normal. I don’t know when I’ll get to hold my family – furry and human – close to me again. But I know I’m not the only one stuck like I am.

Do your part in keeping yourself safe and reducing the spread. When you help yourself, you help us all.

I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love with life again.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Me

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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(2/6) The Best Friend

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Shrti.

Oh my God, Shrti.

If it were true that people are a reflection of their best friends…

I remember when she said she was coming to visit. She’d just graduated from the dream I’d lost and my mother asked me, “Are you sure this won’t affect you?” The answer was a reflex – She won’t let it affect me. Just wait till you two meet.

The first time I ever saw her – white shirt, black slacks, high heels and a no-nonsense smile – I thought to myself, Yeah, we’re never going to be friends. But then she said, “Hi” and I couldn’t imagine anything else.

We were as different as two people can be. I was that girl you see in class but don’t really want to be seen with. And she was… She is that person who makes heads turn when she walks into a room. But she sat next to me everyday. I’d fight like a child and she’d take it in stride. She ignored my silent judgements and my open bitching made her laugh. I never understood why.

Then came that fight. The one that showed my ugly side. It brought our friendship to a screeching halt. This is it. This is how it ends. On my way to present, she came running to say, “You’re going to do just fine.” That’s who she was. She fixed things with one line.

She taught me how to socialise, how to ask for things I want, how it’s not your body that pulls of a dress – it’s your mind. She taught me to find comfort with myself and if I couldn’t, she would be there, ready with a hug.

When I moved away, I thought the distance would create a lot of space. But she didn’t let it. Irrelevant of when, didn’t matter what – All I had to do was pick up the phone and call. You see why, when she said she’s coming to visit, I couldn’t stop grinning?!

She found herself an internship and we became roommates. The last time we’d done this, it hadn’t been so bad. But I knew this time would be different. My room was my safe haven. Yet, it was okay. And not because of me.

She would insist we went out. I wasn’t allowed to whine. She’d force me out of bed for those walks that made me better. I could only complain about one thing at a time. Every time I thought I was giving up, she would all but kick my butt until I didn’t know what I was thinking about.

I’m not joking. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not being extra nice. The honest truth is – She saved me from myself.

Three months. That’s how long it took her to pick me up from my state of depression and have me signing up for internships and smiling. She’d get a cab all the way from across town to get lunch with me before we headed back to work.  She didn’t have to. She could have been that person that shrugged her shoulders and muttered, “Get over it.” Nobody
ever insisted she take that effort. But she did. Day after day until she knew I was okay.

And then she moved away. To a different house and then to her home city.

Looking back, I often wonder – maybe she came to live with me at that point just so I wouldn’t drown completely. Maybe she was meant to be my lifeguard and when she was done with it, she had to leave. Like destiny.

I never formally said ‘thank you‘ to her. We never talked about it as something significant. She didn’t do it for gratitude. But that’s what I feel when I think of it all. For the love she continues to give. For her non-judgemental listening. For her motivation. For her care. For her.

If it were true that people are a reflection of their best friends, I’d be the best damned human there ever was and Shrti, you are one of the reasons for it.

Thank you for being you. For loving me the way you do.

And always remember, I love you, too. <3

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The Life That’s Changed

Note – This isn’t going to be one of those generic posts about the world. This post is something personal and sort of an update. Also, I promise I will never be gone this long, ever again. 

I haven’t blogged in three weeks.

I hate saying that. I can’t believe I’m saying that. But here’s the thing – something has drastically changed in my life. And I’m going to start with this – I did something today that I haven’t done in over two years. I put really loud music on and danced around my room (resulting in a sprained ankle, of course).

I’ve written one too many posts about my state of depression and a very honest one about feeling like a failure. I’ve always been one of those people that believed in my dreams. When it came crashing down, I wasn’t ready to accept it. I wasn’t ready to roll with what came my way. I wanted what I wanted.

On a very random evening, I heard about an opportunity. On any other day, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to it because it didn’t lead me to my dreams. But on that particular evening, I decided to make the call. What started as an “I’m not sure it’s what I want to do, but I’ll try anyway” turned into “So I can do what I love doing?” It wasn’t the big fancy dream but it was something. I’ll be very honest. My mom told me to say yes. Or rather, pushed me to say yes. So I did. I’m glad I did.

When I began, I wasn’t very happy. As a result, my writing sucked. Which lead to a very negative feeling. And that was followed by my previous post.

But something’s changed. I have gotten to a moment that I never thought I’d get to in my entire life. I don’t adjust. I don’t re-arrange my life to fit new dreams or make space for something different. I don’t do plan B’s. Or at least, I didn’t.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve jumped out of bed to get to work early. I’m never too keen to leave from there. And as I sat and giggled at my sprained leg today, I realized – All along, this is the life I wanted. The one where I wake up happy for the day ahead. The one where a negative comment doesn’t make me want to give up but instead motivates me to do better. The one with laughter, goals and a little bit of love. It may not be in the place, with the people I imagined it would be. But it’s exactly the same.

I’m sort of terrified. I wake up everyday afraid to be happy because I feel like life is going to take this away from me too. But that doesn’t stop me. My fears are no longer making my decisions for me.

I woke up today morning and I had this feeling. I felt like we were in a fairytale. Not just me or a friend. The entire world. To say it like Olivia Pope would, “I felt like we’re all gladiators.” LIke life could throw as many curve balls at us as it chooses to and we would still rise from it all. We will always make it through any difficult moment. Like you know you have one too many times before. We’re indestructible.

We’re invincible.

And I hope you remember that.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I want to start this blog with a little activity / homework / experiment, whatever you want to call it, for you. When you’re out on the street, somewhere, I want you to look at a person and I want you to judge them by how they look. Think of the nastiest, bitchiest and rudest comments you possibly can, all because of how that person looks. Like “Oh. Look at her face. So snooty. I bet she’s an effing.. something.” Any name calling, any amount of judgement you can possibly pass about that person.

Now I want you to walk up to them and I want you to shove all that judgement away and put on a sweet voice and as genuine a smile as you can and tell them, “Hey. I’m sorry if I’m intruding. I was just standing there and I constantly kept feeling like you’re going through something rough. You don’t have to tell me what it is. I don’t have to know. I just felt the need to tell you that whatever it is, it’s going to be ok. I promise, you’ll figure it out. Just remember to smile.” Right before you walk away, I want you to take one look at that person’s face.

I assure you that almost always, the person won’t say, “No. I’m fantastic.” They might not open up to you, but their faces will have a look of surprise and gratefulness. Because they needed to hear that. Because they are going through something rough. They just don’t wear it on their faces all the time and you just gave them hope when they needed it the most.

You can go on and try this with as many people as you want because every one of us has a story to tell. A sad, depressing story. A life altering story. We might not look like we do, we might not act like we do, but you know it’s there. In your life, in mine and similarly in others’.

Have you heard of Humans of New York? It is a page run by a man named Brandon. He walks around the streets of New York taking pictures of people and learning a little about them. It’s by far one of my favorite social media pages. In his page, recently, there was a picture of a man with a cut on his hand. I, of course, judged him for cutting himself like that. What cowardly behavior. If you or someone you know is into hurting themselves, please stop. Yourself and them. Nothing comes out of hurting yourself. It is stupid, it is painful and in my very very honest opinion, selfish because you didn’t stop to think how this affects the people who love you. You only care about yourself when you’re inflicting pain on yourself and that is not something to pity. That is something to despise.

I want you to think about all the times you’ve done this. All the times you’ve judged a person by the way they look, by what you see on them rather than in them. I want you to take a moment and think if those judgements might actually be true. If that person is truly what you thought they were. Do you actually believe your judgements were right?

“There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason why they’re the way they are. They aren’t just like that because they want to. Something in the past created them and sometimes it’s impossible to fix them. But that’s not your problem. And it’s definitely not your place to judge.”

One of the main things I like about Humans of New York are the quotes next to the pictures that show you a part of the person you might not normally see or get to know. The person inside the looks and the clothes and the cuts. After I was done judging the man, I read what he said:

“I had forty acres and a new home out in California. I was working as a stone mason. I could bring in $6000 cash some weeks. Then I was walking home one night and someone tried to kill me. I got brain damage. I lost my sense of smell, my sense of taste, most of my hearing, and now I can barely stand without getting dizzy. I must have fallen and cracked my head open thirty times since then. Everything I knew has been washed out into the water. I’ve tried to commit suicide several times.”

That changes everything, doesn’t it? I cannot begin to explain how many times since then I’ve felt sorry. How many times I’ve wished I could walk up to that man and apologize for judging him without knowing him. Ever since, I’ve tried my best to stop myself from doing that. Every time I find myself judging someone for the way they look, I stop myself and instead I smile at them. For all you know, that one time they smile back at you, may be the only smile they give out all day long. Why shouldn’t you be the one that does that for them?!

Because.. think about it. Someone out there is judging you too. They’re looking at you and passing rude comments in their head or to the person next to them. Do you want that? Do you want to hear the horrible things they think about you without knowing you at all? Do you think it’s right that they do that? And if it’s wrong when they do it, how is it right when you do it?

Now, I’m not expecting you to change everything today. We’re humans. We’re made this way and it’s difficult to change. But you have to start somewhere.

So, I’ll take the first step. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the crticism, I’m sorry for all the hatred and most importantly,

I am incredibly sorry for passing judgements instead of extending love. You deserve better than that.

With all my love,

To You.

 

Life goes on..

Today, May 4, is the birthday of someone very very close to me. “Happy Birthday bro..” It’s been a while since I met him and when he saw me he said, “You look bright. Full of hope. It’s nice to see you like this again.”

Last year I had to give up almost everything I had. My plans changed, my life changed. I spent the entire year in depression. Everything made me cry. There was a point when I believed things will never change. That my life was over and all I have to do is sit and just let the end come when it may. Now when I say it, I realize how over-dramatic that sounds. But at that point in my life it seemed like the most logical thought process one can ever have at a time like that.

It’s funny how when something bad happens, we believe that it’s the end. I’m not talking about a fatal sickness or an accident but rather just incidents. When you quit / get expelled from university, when you get fired, when you break up with your loved one, when someone close to you passes away or even when you fail an exam or miss your dream university by 2 points. It seems like a life or death situation. I mean, I get that it possibly is very life altering but it’s never the end.

It took me one and half years of moping around before I decided that I have to change things. ONE AND HALF YEARS ! You know how much I could’ve done in one day? Let alone 500 days ! 500 days before I realized it’s not the end because it’s not happy. That in fact, all I had to do was accept that things have changed. Because the only thing constant in our lives is change and the best I can do is to make use of all that I’ve got. I mean, I’m sure I could’ve sat around another year and half dreaming of what could’ve been but that’s just another 500 days that I won’t get back.

In my life, I’ve learnt that there’s nothing better than dreaming big. Dream what nobody dares to dream of. Dream to fly. Like Peter Pan. To just take off to Neverland. But that’s impossible if you never put your feet on the ground. Even a flight has to hit the runway, move forward and only then can it fly. Sitting idle and wondering about would-be’s and could-have-been’s will never get you anywhere. You have to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward.

I’m not a settler. I’ve missed what many would call “incredible opportunities.” When my previous dream crashed, I had to get a new one. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, mentally prepared to create a big dream again. I’m afraid that it’ll crash too. So I set my goals a little lower. Instead of a big future plan, I set my eyes on simpler things. Things that are more NOW than five to ten years from now – A company that’s not really easy to get into. A publisher that probably won’t even take a second look at my manuscript. I told myself that I won’t take anything besides this. I will get into that company if it’s the last thing I did. I will send the publisher every story I will ever write and at some point, I’m going to write something they will publish.

Think back the years you’ve lived through. How many moments have you had where you thought it’s the end of the world and it wasn’t? No, I’m not talking about December 22, 2012. I mean, you’ve lived through tough times. You’ve moved forward when you thought you wouldn’t. You’re alive and present. When you think about it you’ll realize that all those bad experiences have only made you stronger. Brave. Never weak.

Two years ago, I had it all. I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I didn’t make use of the opportunities. Now I can’t go back. I have to look ahead and I feel stronger than I ever did. Positive that if I could live through that, then I’m sure I can live through the next disaster and the next and the next. Because.. Have you ever sat in front of the ocean and stared at it? You know how beautiful and mentally soothing a view like that is? The way the waves move and hit the shore. The salty smell that comes from it.. Now, imagine sitting in front of the same ocean but this time, it’s still. No waves, no sea salt smell. Just still water. It’s not as beautiful, is it?! That’s life too. It has to have its ups and downs. I promise every wave has something incredible to give to you. A life lesson, a person, a memory.. And when you look at it as a whole, it’s beautiful.

No matter sunny or rainy, draught or storms, the waves in the ocean never stops.. The way, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s over, life goes on..

Life Choices : Choose Happiness

My friend and I were just having a very heated argument about life choices. The guy I have the world’s biggest crush on works at a giant corporate and gets paid a pretty decent amount. He can ask the company to send him a cab every morning to take him to work and back, he gets a bonus for every holiday, health insurance – pretty much the whole package. Here’s the catch : He hates his job ! He always talks about how every minute he spends there he feels like he’s going insane. So why on Earth can he not quit his job and do something he loves? “The money it pays.”

I’m an intern at an advertising agency. I don’t get paid at all. But I find a reason to wake up every morning and show up here because I love what I do. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Doesn’t every person deserve the right to happiness? Should money really dictate his life? That was my side of the argument when my friend fired back at me, “What about his family crisis? What if they need the money he makes?” I did not have an answer to that. So I paused as I ran that idea through my mind. My parents don’t expect my money. So I can make a choice that makes me happy. But can everyone afford to do that? Can everyone choose to be selfish when in fact, maybe his parents have been waiting for him to graduate so he can contribute to the income in his household? How can I suggest that he stop doing that?

Here’s how. Sure, they need the money. But parents who have waited for four years for him to complete his university, can wait a few more for him to make this kind of money again. Except, this time around, he’ll make that money happily. My friend got a job that he loves. But he can’t take it. I asked him why and he told me that his dad had made a comment : “When you’re getting your sister married, you expect the guy to have triple degrees. What’s to say that the girl who marries you won’t expect the same of you? You have to study more.” (This is in accordance to the Indian arranged marriage system) But shouldn’t the girl he’s with care that her husband is someone that is mentally happy and peaceful? Should she just look at his bank account? Should he marry someone like that?

My crush isn’t the only person I’ve known to complain of these things. My friends who work in similar companies pretty much all hate their jobs. “I have to work weekends.” “I have to work night shifts.” “I don’t get a holiday for New Year.” But why? If majority of the employees feel this way, why can’t the companies make a difference? What are the organizations doing that keeps their employees so mentally depressed and stressed? Why aren’t the employees (who are in majority) taking a stand against it and saying “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY !” ?

My dad’s friend was talking about how his son had quit Harvard Law to pursue music, about how much he hated his son for giving up what so many other kids in this world would kill for. But in the end, he understood that his son is now happy. He smiled at his happiness. He said “Isn’t that what we parents want in the end? A happy child?!” I assure you three quarters of the parents in this world are no different to this one. They might be furious in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be happy that you’re happy. So why is it so difficult for us to make this choice?

Why do we fail to see thirty years into the future? You need the money now. Sure. You’re unhappy now, but you earn enough to save for the future. What future? You’re not going to quit when you’re forty and take a trip around the world. You’re stuck in a job you hate already and thirty years from now, you’re still going to be stuck in a job you hate. Only then, you’ll be taking your stress and depression home and instead of depressing only yourself, you’re going to be depressing your entire family.

So think wisely now. Make life choices not based on financials or current situation, but plan them for what your life would be like ten or fifteen years from now. Choose to be happy rather than rich. When you’re working out of your mind with no time for anyone, you’re not living. But even if you don’t make enough money and don’t live in a fancy beach side duplex, when you’re happy, you’ll attract people and those people will always be there for you. You’ll have all the love in the world. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?!

Cancer and the Battle | World Cancer Day 2014

A couple of days ago, I read the book “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. Though it may sound overdramatic, I’m simply being honest when I say, that book killed a part of me. To lose someone you love is tragic. But to lose someone you love for no fault of his/hers is unfair. It’s also the definition of Cancer. Every day you hear stories about it. Our parents, our well-wishers inform us about the vaccines that prevent it and advise us to get it done immediately. If we have lost someone in our family to Cancer, we live in fear that we might end up having to battle with it someday.

I lost two granddads and a grandmother to Cancer. Last year, I also lost an aunt to Cancer. I can never say I lost them because of Cancer. They didn’t die because of cancer. They fought a battle. A war, even. But they lost. They lost to a disease that seems to be affecting more and more people all around us every single day.

The thing is, if someone dies of a head injury, a drunk and drive accident or even a cardiac arrest, I’d get over it. Maybe not immediately, but at some point I’d accept it and move on. But I can’t seem to do that when I lose someone to Cancer.  Because they didn’t just die. They didn’t just say “Hey, I have Cancer” and fall flat to the ground. The pain, the agony, the screaming and shouting, the mood swings, the humiliation they feel, the loss of self-esteem, the loss of a life they dreamt they’d live, the regret they feel for putting their loved ones through so much pain, hurt and trauma – if this was so upsetting for my aunt who was above 60, imagine what this is like for a 6-year-old. An 8-year-old. A teenager.

Beyond the victims, imagine the trouble their loved ones go through. The mental torture. Every time I think of it, I just want to hug them. Every parent, every child, every husband, every wife and every friend that has had to lose someone they love to Cancer. There’s a part in this book where the mother says to her husband when they think their daughter is about to pass away, “I won’t be a mother anymore.” That broke my heart. It might be a fictional story but I can imagine so many mothers out there having to live with that as a reality. What did she do to deserve that? What did that poor child attached to twenty different tubes do to deserve that?

Especially, to learn that the cancer has been cured in their system, only to go back to the hospital three years later and realize “the Cancer’s back.” I have no words to describe that emotion. I can only hope that the love and the support they find around them gives them the strength to fight and win that battle a second time. In my mother’s friend’s case, a third time.

I would have loved for an opportunity to meet my granddads. The way my nieces/nephews would someday wish to meet their grandmother and I’ll them the story my parents told me. The story of how the vicious and scary ghost of a sickness and my aunt got into a fight. How she lost to it because she didn’t have the love of a very very very adorable little child. They’ll live with that story until they grow old and learn all about Cancer. How all the love in this world couldn’t have saved her. In fact, all the love in this world cannot save anyone battling with Cancer. But it can make the difficult journey a tad bit easier.

So on World Cancer Day, this February 4th, join me along with a million others across the world to raise awareness about that vicious and scary ghost of a sickness. Teach the world to accept and love the ones struggling to fight Cancer.  It might not save them, nothing but their own strength and possibly a cure for cancer can save them, but I assure you, it’ll make their journey a lot easier.

If you or anyone you know wish to give or seek support, there are so many websites and organizations that will connect you to the patients and their families. You can simply Google them.

Last but not least, if you are someone battling with Cancer, I want you to know, you have my love and support and I will be waiting for you at the winner’s lounge. Last round’s on me ‘kay? 🙂

2013 Going On 2014

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As I sit here, listening to songs from Sound of Music and sipping hot tea, I realize, the year 2013 has been the most trying year of my life. I have never cried so much. I have never been so depressed. I have never felt so hopeless and lost. But it was also one of the best years of my life. I have never been happier. I have never felt more need to do something with my life, to give my life meaning. I have never learnt so many life lessons in such a short period of time.

It’s true what they say – Experience is key. Sure, you can learn from others’ mistakes. But some things in life, you learn only through your own experience. In 2013, I had to give up something I absolutely loved doing. For no fault of mine. I was trapped in a corner. I thought my life was over. I had hit bottom low. There were days when I felt like I didn’t have a reason to wake up. I cried myself to sleep. I refused to walk out of my room. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was watching my life flush itself down the drains and I couldn’t do anything about it. I was pissed with everyone. I hated the world. I was drowning in an emotion that I didn’t know or understand.

Then one day, something changed. There was an incident when I did something without realizing what I was doing. I felt like someone slapped me awake. I stopped and stared at the mirror. Oddly, I had no idea who the person staring back at me was. Because that person was a bad friend, was a bad daughter, was a self-loathing, self-pitying ghost of a human being and I was not that person. I was never that person and I knew something had to change. I didn’t know what to do but I had to start somewhere. I told myself, I’m getting my act together. This is my life. I’m the only one that can fix it. I took the longest shower I’ve ever taken while I gathered my thoughts together. When I walked out, I knew. It was a new day and it was going to be better than yesterday.

I know people always ask you to surround yourself with loved ones when you’re going through a bad phase. But there are times in your life, when it is better to be alone. For you to sit down and map out your life. Make your decisions. Think things through. I started by making a list. Of all the good things in my life at that point :

1. I got a dog and he loves me the way I’d always hoped someone would.
2. I had a family to support me, no matter what I do.
3. I was healthy. 
4. I had a roof over my head and food on my plate, everyday, no matter what. 

I realized, I have more than most people in my country do. All I needed was the right attitude. And a plan. So I started with the small changes, a little bit every day. I did positive things. I talked to positive people. I took long walks and enjoyed Mother Nature. I started drawing and sketching. Finally, I started writing. This was my biggest step. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but I never got around to it. If my life had stayed intact, I probably never would have started a blog. This may sound cheesy, but this blog is the best thing that has happened to me this year. It has given me the ability to do what I love and share it with people with similar interests.

I still can’t say that I’m completely happy and I don’t want anything to change. I would, of course, love to go back and do what I used to do. But I wouldn’t trade this year for anything, ever. This year, I’ve loved, I’ve accomplished, I’ve said goodbye, I’ve said “Nice to meet you,” I’ve let go of a memory I didn’t realize I was holding on to, I fell for someone after a very long time, I’ve had heartbreak, I have put my faith in hope and I have dreamt a dream bigger than any I’ve ever dreamt before. The lessons and values I’ve learnt are indispensable. The most important lesson, however, has been :

“No matter what happens, or where you’re stuck, don’t stand still. Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. As long as you do that, you will get somewhere.”

So here’s my New Year’s Resolution :

  • I want to wish on a shooting star.
  • I want to dream BIG and chase those dreams.
  • I want to spend more time with nature.
  • I want to fall in love.
  • I want to enjoy the rain.
  • I want to save some money and travel.
  • And I want to fly…

On that note, here’s wishing you the most incredible year ahead. I hope you dream and that you dream big. And I hope all those dreams come true..

Happy New Year 2014 ! 🙂

(Pic Courtesy : Me and my incredible doodle skills)