An Indian Woman's Ramblings · Indian Woman's Musings · Life

Is it okay to do something you’re not good at?

I struggle to keep pace with my peers. It feels like school all over again. I feel like someone’s laughing at the back of the class when I ask a stupid question.

It’s hard to be average and ambitious. You want to do many things with your life, but one thing always stops you – your incapability.

I always thought my strength lay in writing. Turns out that’s the case for many people out there. I am not the only one with creativity stuck to the nerves of her brain.

What do I do now?Where do I go? My life didn’t pan out the way it should have. I now have an insane goal in mind, steely determination for it, but my lack of expertise is frustrating me.

Has anyone ever told you that frustration is the key to losing your mind? It’s good to want more from your life, to want to better your situation. But how does one do it?

I walk in and out of job interviews, my mind boggled at the kind of expertise expected from me; my current role helping me in no way for the new one.

I look at myself in the mirror and feel disgusted at my incapability. I have officially failed to love myself. I don’t know what positivity is anymore. I don’t know whether I should smile at my life or my destruction.

Why did I end up here? I wasn’t meant to end up like this. I was the brightest in my class in college, the top performer in my graduate school. Then why am I at my lowest now? Is it because I have chosen to do something I am not trained in?

What do I do to better my situation? There is no person out there to help me. My parents are of little help either.

Sometimes, I wonder if happiness lies in being average and content. But contentment has always been so so hard for me. I try very hard to be happy with what I have, but a voice inside my head keeps telling me – you can do better.

To be honest, I wasn’t this confused when I was in a relationship. Back then, things were quite clear – I wanted to stick to one job, take things as and when they came and probably settle into a zone from where I could pursue my passion of writing full-time.

But then life hits you. Hard. You get lost in time and space, stretching your arm out for support, but touching thin air. The opportunities you actually have in your hand seem inadequate. Happiness becomes a chore. Smiling seems like harassment you inflict on yourself. You don’t feel like taking holidays anymore. Even going to eat out seems like a waste of time.

Sometimes, I feel I am not focused enough. I feel I lack the right skills or attitude to be successful. And then I see some people for whom it’s so easy. I wonder – where did I go wrong?

These are probably solitary thoughts – they will one day go away. But I wish I could understand how to become better at something I am not good at. I don’t know how much harder I should work. Is giving up easier than trying?

An Indian Woman's Ramblings · Indian Woman's Musings

Why Adulting Is Fun

A few weeks ago, I came across a tweet: “The less you respond to drama, the more peaceful your life becomes”. I can not stress more on the absolute truth of these 100 words. And that’s something I have learnt through the process of ‘adulting’.

I know, not many people love being an adult, right? There’s too much drama, too many problems. It’s easy to say many things, but difficult to implement them for real, because now there are too many people with a stake in your life.

Love for adulting just doesn’t seem to fit into a socially accepted standard of something “fun” to say. After all, there are no paper boats to float, no tiffins to share and definitely no PT classes. But I somehow enjoy adulting and the process of blooming into an adult has fascinated me to the core. Now, I talk more to you all through my blog than in person, and for a change, it feels good! I feel lighter in my adulthood more than I ever did in my childhood.

I guess that’s because I had a complicated childhood and found it difficult to make friends while growing up. So when adulting happened, it didn’t come easy, but I have finally learnt to accept many things about myself, which I couldn’t as a teenager. And I honestly feel great.

It feels good to keep some emotions to yourself, to make yourself your confidante. It’s an amazing feeling when you head to work in the morning knowing it’s the least stressful thing you will do. And above everything, it feels great to know that you’re in a good place and can share this with someone when the right time comes. I have been an adult for less than 2 years, and I honestly feel more empowered than ever before. I know some people (particularly Indians) dread the life of a flat – where you take care of your own laundry, your food, menial house jobs. But I like my daily routine of waking up in my own place, dressing up well and heading to an office just 10 minutes away from my place. I used to bare out my emotions to the world once, but as an adult, I have chosen to showcase them to myself – for no one understands me better than I do. These are things I have learnt in the past few months, and this change has made me a stronger and more meditative person – some of the best things I am getting from adulthood.

Trust me, adulting isn’t that bad. Yes, you change as a person, you lose some friends along the way and you don’t like the spaghetti you enjoyed six months ago. But hey, life’s beautiful and you’re leading it with confidence and love. You’re surrounded by people who love you, friends who care about you and above all, family that you can always bank upon. Plus, you get your space (mostly).

Whenever life goes too fast, slow down. Breathe. Clear your head. And think about how much fun it is being on your own, fending for yourself. It will prepare you for a life ahead where you will never be dependent on anybody. It feels good to be an adult, and if you’re one, I hope you feel good about ‘adulting’ too!

Much love,

the happy writer of this blog

An Indian Woman's Ramblings · Indian Woman's Musings · Life · Opinionated

Finding That Perfect Story…

Growing up in a typical Bengali household two things happen to you:

A. You need to learn English and have an “impeccable” hold on the language and its grammar

B. You have to read Tagore and you get introduced to the classics of English literature even before you can take your first steps as a toddler

As a kid, even without prodding from my parents, I always had a natural affinity for learning languages and moulding words. Whenever I wrote a story or a poem, I felt as if I had finally exercised my ‘creative liberty’. I felt proud of myself for creating something new, similar to what a civil engineer feels when he makes a new bridge, I guess. I have always wanted to find that “right” story as a child, that one concept that will change everyone’s life. Maybe this happened because Harry Potter was a literary phenomenon in my childhood days, or maybe this happened because my brain refused to understand anything except English (and sometimes) Hindi literature and language.

To be honest, I wasn’t really a grammar person. The technicalities of the language never attracted me. The intricate beauty of it did. Reading Amir Khusro, Tagore, Manto or even a Premchand takes you into a different world – a blend of the social with the fiction, and nothing gave me more joy than imagining that some day I will do so too.

But, is it easy to find that right story? Many-a-times, an idea strikes you when you’re in the train (or even in the loo). Can you always pen it down? There have been days when my mind is mentally writing a novel, but when I sit to pen it down, the words don’t flow. All of a sudden, I have lost my story.

every-writer-i-know-has-trouble-writing.jpg

I read the life story of Christopher Paolini when I was in 8th grade (the writer of the fantasy-mythical novel, Eragon). When he was 16, he fled home, went into a forest, and then started writing a novel there, imagining the setting as a mythical-forest oriented set up. And boom, he wrote one of the most engaging pieces of literature ever.

Now, I can’t run into a forest to write a story. There is no forest in the concrete heartland of New Delhi. There are parks in Delhi, but they don’t inspire me to write a story as fantastical as Eragon. This brings me to my dilemma – how and where do I find my perfect story?

Stories are incidental. They aren’t manufactured products for an industry. I am not looking at being a Chetan Bhagat, hell no. I am looking at writing like an Arundhati Roy or a Rowling or a Rushdie, but I don’t have the incidental set up for the same. I have been told by many that money buys you peace that helps you write a novel, as was the case with Tagore. But then, there are people like Rowling who got an idea like a Harry Potter in staunch poverty. So I am pretty sure that money has got nothing to do with finding that perfect story. Some people just find it, and thankfully, pen it down.

It even takes years for people to write another novel, or find another story after they have found the first one. Take for example Harper Lee. Her masterpiece, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ fetched her royalties for a lifetime. And it took her 55 years to pen down her next one, which wasn’t even half as good as the first.

I don’t want to be a mass producing printing machine, writing one novel after the other to satisfy my growing fan population. I want to write that perfect story that will make people cry, will make them emote in wonderous ways and evoke a sense of happiness. Maybe it might make them emote otherwise, even make them angry, but it will still be a classic. But, what if I live this entire lifetime and don’t find my story? That can happen. Has happened for a lot of people. Had the talent, had the time, had the creativity level, but never found their perfect story.

I know writers like me have a hard life. Because we look for that opportune moment when a story strikes us, but that’s rare to come by. For technical people this is tough to understand – I mean, writing is still a job, right? Why can’t we just sit with our pen, write till something strikes us? But it doesn’t work that way. Creativity is like a flowing river. A tsunami in the river is rare, but as and when a rare wave rises, it sweeps everything off the shore away. I am waiting for that wave, and that is tough to explain. Even when I write this blog, I don’t write it every day. There are days when I just feel like I have to express, and that is the day I even blog.

When I meet a non-creative (by that I mean an engineer or a doctor or someone who is not pursuing a writing career) person, I find their methodology of thinking very daunting. If I ask them how they feel, they reply, “I am feeling good.” But when I am asked the same question by them, my brain (or rather, heart), churns out responses like, “is this even a relevant question for it is tough to feel something constantly for a long time” or “emotions are wandering beings, I may feel good at this second, terrible in the other, for time never gives you time to heal, it just makes you go with the flow.” Not a straight-jacketed answer, rather something deep, that seems just too bourgeois for a layman to comprehend. Yet, there are times when I meet uberly creative people who seem to bring a new twist to everything they say (happens a lot in the advertising industry) – you feel that if they can be creative at the drop of a hat, why does my brain get blocked while looking for THAT perfect story?

I am busy putting together my thought-ship. I am busy stealing the beautiful language used by other people. Or maybe I am yet to find my writing style. That style that will be the essence of my lovely/lonely story. There are days when I am so desperate to start writing my novel that I feel like penning down an auto-biography, with the feeling – I am sure my struggles will resonate with a lot of people and will be a terrific book! But, writing doesn’t and shouldn’t function that way. I don’t want to steal from my life. I want to find that one character who will be my buddy, whose life I can create. I sometimes do feel like being a Ruskin Bond – disappearing into my own little void and rising up only when pestering publishers want me to show my face to promote my book.

A writer is a weird personality. He/she is moody, unpredictable and insecure. Moody because they let all emotions get to them, for when you feel all the emotions within you is when you mature as a writer. Unpredictable because they can be hospitable at one moment, unwelcoming in the next. They may want company desperately at times, they might want to be alone in the next. Insecure because it’s tough to find their perfect story. Yes, we sound like whimsical creatures who just like things to be our way, but it’s not actually that. Imagine stopping Shakespeare when he wanted to pen down Antony-Cleopatra in his own personal space. Imagine forcing a Paolini to socialize while he was writing the climax of Eragon. We writers don’t see the world when we see our pen/paper. All we see is that character, that set-up and our perfect story. Writers are hard to come by, but easy to “manufacture”. You can always find a journalist in your friend’s circle, but it is hard to find a writer writing for a living in it. For it is very tough to find that perfect story and be that writer you always wanted to be.

I know writing and literature is present in my blood. Because it all came to me naturally when I decided to pick up a Shakespeare play over a Math CD (much to my mother’s chagrin). Writing comes to me naturally too. But that perfect story is still alluding me. Will I find it on a holiday or when I am sitting at my desk doing my daily job? Will I find it when my mind is clear of all clutter? Will I find it if I read a little more?

I know I am Bengali and it’s typical of us to get into the creative field. My community is dominated by people who are artists, painters, dancers, singers and writers. And that has happened because for generations my community valued intellectual pursuit over manual/technological work. Which is fine. But I don’t want to be stereotyped as another “bong who decided to be a writer”. I want to see myself as a person who is looking for that perfect story. A writer who will be remembered by people by her work, not her name. I want to resonate with a character who will flow in my veins, take her/his form when I am sitting down to pen the novel. I want to be free, I want to be in my own Narnia some day.

But when that will happen is a mystery and might continue to be in the years to come. But, as soon as I have struck gold, I will let you know. After all, why wouldn’t I want to introduce the hero of my life to those who loyally read me before he/she came along?

To summarise, this is what finding my ‘right’ story really means for me.

“Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”

(If there is paradise on earth, then it is this, it is this)

An Indian Woman's Ramblings · Indian Woman's Musings · Life · Life in India

The Anomaly Of The Workspace, “The Bad Worker”

It has been 4 months since I left a bad workplace. But the experience still rests in my mind, not because I like to remember it, but because that experience taught me to be miserable, and unhappy. A lot of people don’t understand you, when you may say, “I have a bad job”, or “I have a bad boss”. A good job is like that perfect arranged Indian marriage – where you strike gold. That’s why many people don’t leave their good jobs, even when they know that they can get a better pay elsewhere.

I had always considered myself a ‘good worker’, someone who fulfilled her tasks on time, who listened to her seniors, paid attention, learnt fast. I made mistakes, but not anything major that could cost me my job.

When I entered the bad workplace last year, I was under the impression that I could learn and grow there. I pushed myself to my limit, but got little or no appreciation. I tried learning my work, but my boss made my anxiety levels shoot up the roof with her unreasonable demands. Coming to office on time was more important than completing the task at hand, suddenly. I was in military school, but without the tag of one.

My bad experience made me bitter, unreceptive to criticism, arrogant, impatient and above all, angry. A vent up frustration started building up within me. I was frustrated with my life, frustrated that I was working hard and building something for someone who didn’t deserve it.

When I started the job, it wasn’t that bad. The initial month was the time to learn. A fellow co-worker, whom I then considered a bad worker, primarily because she didn’t perform well, left within a month after I joined. Suddenly the vortex of torture moved from her to me.

It’s not that my boss was angry at me every single day. She spoke sweetly to me. But she made me panic, made me feel overburdened, made me hate my job. You may think I have massive hatred for her. But I have only pity. Pity because I know that her behavior may get her through there, but will land her nowhere in the future (at least that’s what I can hope for and be happy).

I was told by many colleagues in my first job that I should struggle and then join a corporate. I needed to understand the value of my corporate job and learning on the field would make me resourceful. I did go to the field – but I began hating myself and my decisions. I don’t think I learnt much from this bad job– all I learnt was how to become a bad boss.

My personal life too took a turn for the worse. All my frustrations from my job life fell on my boyfriend’s shoulders. Maybe I was to blame – I didn’t know what to do, so I took it out on him. And I regret that.

I still remember taking up that job. I was on the verge of completing my Masters degree and highly stressed. I had dreamt of a high-paying job when I went abroad, and unfortunately, the field of work I had chosen didn’t have any well-paying job. My experience was little, hopes a little too high. I took the first job in my field that I could find.

Life had taught me many things, but not patience. Alas, I learnt that the hard way.

Four months at that bad workplace broke my confidence, made me feel like I am a bad worker. I used to come back home, all tired, but still opened my laptop to finish my work, because there was just no sympathy given to those people working more than 9 hours a day.

I still remember waking up and not wanting to go to office, but had no option. Every morning was a horror – I just didn’t want to go back to that horrible place. I had loved my first job, where I was so enthusiastic to go to office that even my parents used to be super happy seeing my enthusiasm.

But all that place did for me was to make me more miserable. There was a weird friendship-cum-power structure in that office. So, I could make no friend who could understand my calamity. Those who are in similar situations like you are the best people to confide in. But I had no one to talk to. I slowly withdrew into a shell and eventually became a victim of depression.

I had many hopes, I wanted to do big things. But a bad boss does what even an enemy can’t – make you doubt yourself.

We humans are inherently selfish creatures, and being bad workers is mostly not in our nature. All of us want to grow big in a job, get a promotion. But none of us want to wake up in the morning thinking about the week ahead and the realization that you have no weekends off, no holidays, but just work, work and work.

My manager used to walk into office at 11 every day. I wouldn’t have cared about this much normally, but I did. Because she used to harass me for walking in at 10, when she herself didn’t have the decency to walk in at a time when I could respect her for her position. I know she might be angry reading this, but she needs to know what effect she has had on people.

I know I sound angry, resentful, hurtful. Did I deserve to go through this? Deserve may be a bad word… but how else can one define phases that are rough and harassment which is unjustified?

I found sexual harassment easier to deal with as compared to mental harassment in office. Maybe that’s because since my childhood, I, like every other woman, has been taught to let go of sexual advances, molestation and harassment, because thinking about these things does no good.

But why wasn’t I ever taught on how to deal with office harassment? The fact that when I want to feel useful and productive, I would constantly be pushed to feel inferior every single day?

Why didn’t I leave sooner? I wonder. Well, the answer is simple. I had no other place to go. Maybe that’s what happens to women in bad marriages who have no qualifications to maintain that standard of life that cannot be maintained once they leave their husbands. No, bad example. What I went through has no parallel. What those women go through have different reasons. But right now, I am looking for anything and everything to justify my situation and my calamity.

I wish I could think straight, I could forget that bad experience and love my job again, love going to office again. But I have fear in me. A fear that I will  become ‘useless’ again.

I am an upper caste, ‘privileged’, urban woman, you may say. I got all I wanted in life, so I shouldn’t complain.

But I have also never used wrong means, never harassed anyone, never lived without a guilty conscience when I hurt someone knowingly or unknowingly. I have always wanted people to be happy around me, and be happy myself, but why does happiness elude me? I want to be happy, is asking for happiness a crime?

When people tell you, “you have everything, be happy”, I find that statement funny. What is the metric of happiness? Is wealth, class and education the only definition of happiness?

Every day since my childhood, I have looked for constant happiness, which I have failed to get. Maybe I am broken, I am weak, but I am not useless, not unimportant. I am beautiful, I am who I am, and I should remain happy. I should get what I want, not because I am ‘privileged’, but because I have worked for it. Because I want it, because that makes me happy. Happiness makes me happy.

My blog is called fortunate musings, and I am fortunate enough to be musing and writing about my woes right now.

But I want you to understand that you are not alone. You may be dark, brown, have curly hair, be deaf or blind, but you deserve to be happy. You don’t deserve to be told constantly that you’re useless.

Many out there will do that to you, but don’t lose hope. I have felt suicidal many times, I have felt helpless, alone. But I found you. I hope you find me. Together we can give each other hope.

If your boss ill-treats you, still believe in yourself. If today is a bad day, tomorrow is a new beginning. And, you deserve to be happy. You really do.

 

An Indian Woman's Ramblings · Indian Woman's Musings · Life

Why I believe I am my own enemy.

Apologies for being away for so long. Its been a long time since I took up the pen to pen down my thoughts. Primarily because I was suffering from the writer’s block. But this writer’s block isn’t something that came up because of my inability to pen down my thoughts, hell no. This was a self-imposed exile out of which it took me nearly two months to realise that a self-imposed hibernation would be better rather than an exile, because an exile isn’t a choice – hibernation is.

For many months, I have been struggling to grasp the true meaning of life. As a liberated woman (at least I tend to think of myself that way), I always grasped life as something I can lead on ‘my terms’. But over the course of some months, I realised that life is the worst thing mankind has to live through. Its got too many rules, too many struggles, too many hardships – you name it. Doesn’t it anger you when you feel helpless, or useless, or unsuccessful, especially when you know you don’t deserve it? Doesn’t it hurt to see someone else deriving so much happiness out of their little life, by being stable, strong and calm?

Why can’t I be like that? Why isn’t my life like that? Isn’t life what we make of it? Aren’t we taught since we were children that hard work reaps success?

Angered by these thoughts, I sought recourse in killing the only thing that I loved the most – writing. Or typing, since I maintain an online blog.

I have been hurt by many things over the past couple of months. First by my ego, two by my foolishness. Ego because it made me disrespectful, angry, made me overexpectant, irrational, hateful, depressed. My foolishness because I let myself believe that others are responsible for my actions. Those who loved me, stopped staying by my side, because even they got tired for being blamed for my actions, when they could clearly see I was in the wrong.

Was I?

The problem with getting an education abroad is that you tend to expect too much from yourself. A fancy, expensive education prepares you for a lifetime of struggle/happiness in the maddening corporate world. The girl in me wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a writer, the woman in me realised that writing would only happen if I had money.

So, that made me angry. Expectant. Foolish. And hungry for the wrong things.

I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. But I do know this – I want to document each and every emotion that passes through me on this blog, because it is the document of my existential crisis. Many of you or maybe some of you might be facing these conflicting emotions on a daily basis, and I want you to know that there is someone out there who is exactly like you.

Complicated beings like us are tough to comprehend, understand. I know I will be slogging away at a corporate house in a couple of months maybe, but stability may bring me happiness. But, for how long? I have created a barrier in my head that butts out happiness – but is that who I am? Is this all a part of growing up? If it is, why is it so painful?

Should I release it all by choosing the easier path of life? But what is the easier path of life?

My writing skills go unnoticed at the hands of those willing to monetise on my skills. But what are my skills? My face looks into the mirror and doesn’t recognize itself. What am I good at? I don’t know. Maybe I do, but my mind is blocked. I thought I could follow my passion, but low pay and bad behaviour made me quit. I think I can survive in a bad, mad corporate world, but I may change my mind in the future too. Does that make me defocused and shallow? Can I respect myself?

All these thoughts run through my head – not because I like wasting time, but because I need answers. I sometimes do feel at peace with myself at times – I feel calm, I feel like nothing can harm me. Then, am I my own enemy? I don’t know.

If I do figure it out, I will let you know. And if I don’t, I still will.