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The words were on the tip of her tongue. She was afraid that if she started to express them into coherent logical thoughts, they’d evolve into a literal storm. She was angry, she was dormant like a volcano about to implode and destroy everything in its path. So, she tamed her emotions, harnessed them into seeds of positivity, let them grow into actions of love towards herself. But she was growing tiresome of putting out any inkling of a fire. She was restless of its predictable pattern of destruction and continuously checking its temperature to manage, to control.

Her life in the past six weeks had become an emotional roller coaster. The highs were lovely, and the lows were borderline devastating. She showered in motivation more than she bathed in water. She developed an armour of steel to prevent her essence that she was building from getting lost. She spoke in simpler sentences instead of even attempting the more complex thoughts that buzzed, constantly. They wouldn’t sleep, not even when everything else was. They’d ruminate, gather dust, pollute the sanitary mind space she was cultivating.

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Dreams, Rambles, Relationships

expectations management.

valentine’s is silly, silly day.

for someone with average intelligence, upper middle class upbringing, coming from a well educated family, an amazing support system, a job in the right industry (albeit underpaid) blessed with good health and oppurtunity: I felt like absolute shit at certain points of the day.

even after having an amazing day (no, really …I’m not just saying it) — I couldn’t help but pause & reflect during the night and feel a little empty inside even though it’s really no different from every other day. Every single blog post on the internet, every little instagram picture,  every little tweet, walking down the street and watching couples — it’s exhausting to go through the thought process roller coaster of reminding yourself that “Ritika, you have an amazing life.”

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I don’t want to sound angry and resentful, really — I just want to express my thoughts as an educated member of society of how utterly stupid this day is. It’s like christmas and halloween combined; holiday enterprises taken to an exponential level via capitalism with the major side effect of good people feeling like shit and having to do something eXciTiNG and thus, eating their feelings through cheesecake & chocolate & other forms of sugar.

my take away message (for myself mostly) is that I was raised through bollywood & disney movies & the internet, combined with observing the very real partnership of my parents for the last 23 years who made all those notions of  tRuE lOve a possible thing. I am torn by the juxtaposition of reality and the daydream I know can happen; the realization that I am very young and new to this arena. And, as a third culture kid with life experience and four different cities I call home — my perspective and roots is quite complex and confusing personally let alone conveying it to a third party. And lastly — the understanding that my current phase in life is one in which I work very hard and smart to reach bigger and better dreams.

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In the meantime, I should experience my happy, magical moments in a city that is breathtakingly beautiful. I should experience everything that life has to offer and then some, I should be kind to myself and to others. I should realize that love is not always romantic, and that platonic love should not be discounted. that feelings are complicated & intricate and simple in the way that they should be allowed to happen. that the platonic, long lasting friendships can be far more fulfilling, equally real and their nurturing and care should be celebrated. and most importantly, yes my post is getting sappier by the second — but to count my blessings and tell everyone I love how much they add meaning to my humble little life before it all passes and we’re nothing.

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Uncategorized

for better or for worse —

I went to a slam poetry night the other evening. This isn’t atypical of what I would’ve done as a student on a typical Wednesday night. I was truly looking forward to the evening of sipping a cold beer in an overly humid room with hipsters and the general youth. I was looking forward to the solitude that came from reflecting one’s own thoughts in the unison of a crowd. I was excited about the positive and energy and acceptance that I had always found at these events. I found a spot and later continued to move till I finally found a table I could sit on.

I could recognize less than a handful of people. I don’t mean to brag, but having the confidence that I would meet friends there was truly one of the reasons I had gone to this by myself. I had just expected to fall into old acquaintances, the distant friend. I had expected to find company but found myself in a room of strangers. Very young, very naive strangers. I could tell they were first years right away. Eighteen years old and with that energy and optimism. I remember having that just so very recently. I had never felt so old in my life. It was almost crippling and I couldn’t manage even a returned smile.

I decided to stay and found that the poems were not as universal and ageless as I had always assumed it was. They were about first heartbreaks. They were about moving away from home. They were about a loneliness that I found shallow and empty in essence. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from building a life in a city and finding yourself still sitting alone on a Saturday night and actually preferring it to anything else. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from making an extremely elaborate dinner for yourself and being okay with not sharing that moment of completion. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from going to the movies alone and indulging in an overpriced, over caffeinated, over sugared cola drink because getting to know someone actually felt like small talk. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from talking the transit and doing a job that was way less glamorous than what you had expected for yourself. It wasn’t the loneliness that could be talked about or even mentioned because realizing it was real would open a gate that you could never really close again.

They talked about loneliness and heartbreak as if it were one single event separate from everything else in their life’s events. They spoke as if the event happened, they reacted, they moved on. It was as if the event had never transformed their bones, their very cores.

I wondered when I had become so cold and heartless and apathetic. I remembered feeling so much awe and emotion and love the last time. When did I become so shut off, so filtered, so proud? I was disgusted at myself for feeling as if their thoughts were invalid and childish. I remembered thinking that they had no idea what being an adult was life. The internal chaos and turmoil that comes from not having a job and willing to do just about anything instead of having to go back home in desperate. The emptiness that comes from self loathing and self pity from the lack of meaning for yourself. The panic of not having a home within your means that could keep you happy. The desperateness that comes from not knowing what you’re doing with your life, your time. The joy kill of doubting your skills and strengths and desperately not able to find anything happy in this period of temporary. This was me a month ago and now, slowly things are falling into place.

I am a very, very broke adult surviving in Vancouver working two jobs and managing a personal life that gives meaning and the strength to face old demons that have not yet disappeared.

I am very grateful and humbled for this period because it has and will ultimately define my future, for better or worse.

 

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Childhood, Self-Development, Social Media

You are only honest with yourself at 2 am.

It is 2 am. This is the time when you are most introspective and free. This is when you have the darkest thoughts, but also the most profound, the ones with the most clarity. This is the time you feel the courage to click the send on an overdue love letter/email. It is the time you can hear your thoughts without bias or judgement. It is when all of the noise finally quietens.

Robin Williams and his choice to end his life has gone completely viral since it happened. It became the most blogged, tweeted about topic of the week and became every online blog’s wet dream. Countless repeated conversations combined with personal anectodes of fans who grew up watching his work. I was near a Starbucks when I saw it on Facebook, talking to my parents. I read the sentence out loud before realizing who it was. “Robin Williams dead, alleged suicide.”

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

In the day time, even despite the shock, I didn’t really process. My dad said, “This is going to upset a lot of people. This isn’t… good, the suicide part.”

Even then, I could predict the issue being viral gold. I got lost in the noise. It bothered me — the way it happened, I wanted answers. The detail about his belt, Zelda William’s tweet followed by her desicion to go offline during mourning, the “you’re free” from Aladdin; all just emotional porn which I obsessively consumed on all online medium channels.

My mother didn’t understand depression and I had to explain that it was a chemical imbalance that was as serious as any other disease. I compared it to anemia and other popular diseases which people have no control over. She argued that he had everything — fame, fortune, wealth, success, family. How could anybody be sad? I tried to explain, desperately needing her to understand. I explained how depression is a void of emptiness which must have been dark enough for him to have ended his life, despite his percieved perfect life. I explained that it was all physiological and molecular, people didn’t choose to be depressed. It isn’t a choice people make because they were bored or restless. It isn’t a choice people make because they want attention. It isn’t a choice people make because it seems glamorous or popular. It is misunderstood, isolating, lonely and victim-blaming.

Chinese market at Vancouver’s Downtown eastside

 

I wondered if she remembered her best friend, also with everything one could want in life, being diagnosed with depression. I wondered if she remembered that in 8th grade, my guidance counsellor had explained how I may have mild clinical depression. My counsellor had tried to get me help but I, since then, adopted my parent’s attitude of denial. After all, I had been mourning a friend’s passing then — mourning basically has all the same physical symptoms.

It worked. Like a placebo effect, you truly believe there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes, you’ll catch yourself saying out loud, “I don’t want to do this anymore” when reffering to life. Sometimes, you’ll think it and go on, without a second thought. A good friend will stop and make you realize what you just said so nonchalantly. Deep down, you know there is an emptiness that will never be cured — but you call it human existence and move on. You try to understand this demon of yours, but like your shadow, it is engrained within you that you can’t imagine it not being there — but you claim that everyone has defining moments that shape their entire life. You are certain that everybody feels a genre of this.

You wonder why there is no depth or complexity in some of the conversations, some of the people you encounter. You argue that you prefer this, the bleakness gives your personality, allows you to enjoy humour, makes you empathetic — your life is richer. You pity those who can’t view life in the same grey shades of you.

And besides, you’re so functional. You wake up and do things and have goals and socialize and you have such a huge support system. There’s no way you could be this functional if you truly had a problem. You remember the things that make up your identity — student of ___, volunteers at ___, works at ____. All of these names and organizations and centers to legitimize your existence and make you appear functional. 

Summer 2014 with the brother.

You’re also so funny — or you think so, anyway. You have such a positive attitude towards like, anything — you don’t think so, but have been told numerous times. For god’s sake, you actively promote self-care and attempt it yourself every now and then. You’ve fooled everyone you know, but still have to tackle the art of fooling yourself.

Ignorance works; you dissolve in the noise of life until that next time it’s 2 am.

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Self-Development

How to Stay Cool after Graduating University

Originally posted on Medium.

They don’t tell you how hard it can be.

Disclaimer: This is very much just a personal laundry list. I’m in no shape or form qualified to give anyone advice. My story, just like everyone else’s, is very personal and unique. There are many people who do not feel these things at all and have it all figured and planned, but I am certain there are many, many that do.

1. After you graduate, you’ll realize that there’s nothing but emotional sentimentality that ties you to your alma mater. This realization will be coupled with the realization that you can finally cut relationships and label it “moving on.” I really hate ending things, I’m sure I’ll even be sad when Rogers finally frees me of their binding contract. Apart from the monthly shocking statement, there was tons of memories in the years of texts and phone calls. As a graduate, you no longer have that freedom of “catching up before class with coffee” or “I’ll see you at that event” or “let’s study together.” The relationships that are meant to be are the ones that are independent of your student lifestyle. And that’s really great, really — trimming the fat is wonderful.

2. You have to have some sort of a life plan. It really doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or grand, but it has to be something realistically possible. It has to be something that’s challenging but not to the point where it becomes crippling. If you can have a life plan that’s longer than a year, kudos. The plan is the only thing that will give you a sense of purpose, something to wake up and do when there is no structure.

3. You have to get your family on board with your plan (or like, really really good friends who will pick up the phone right away). They have to absolutely 100% support your choices and like, still love you. There will be days where you wake up and question all your life choices. There will also be days when you can’t sleep and you just need to hear their voices. If you don’t have them to list all the reasons you’re not a complete failure, you really won’t make it. Also, the more tough love, the better. This is because you’ll want to do really ridicoulous things with your life and they have to step in and tell you that it’s not a good idea in the best way possible. A good support system will also remind you of your capabilities and competences, which is necessary….because you forget.

4. You will actually forget about your skills and your past experiences through the mind-boggling, humbling process that everyone goes through at some point or the other: Job Searching. It’s the most brutal, life sucking thing and I’d honestly rather just go back to school and do exams. But, I think it means truly accepting that it’s supposed to be this hard. And also, having faith in all the gods that you don’t believe in that eventually, eventually, things will have to work out. A comment like, “you’re trying, you really are. you are the definition of auto-pilot motivation” will keep you going for days.

5. If you’re playing the waiting game — waiting back from interviews, waiting from graduate schools, waiting to hear back about this or that oppurtunity, you have to make lists to decrease anxiety. The lists can be about everything and anything under the sun that interest you. You don’t even have to write it down, because this really isn’t homework. I made lists of places I want to visit before I die, lists of artsy craftsy things to make that I actually won’t, recipes that look easy enough to attempt. I made playlists of my favourite summer tunes, lists of book recommendation that I’d eventually get to. My more complex lists were of careers that I could envision myself doing — I thought about everything from nursing to web development.

6. You have to have a hobby — nothing is more important during a quarter life crises or periodic existential crises than a hobby. Although reading has been a pretty consistent hobby in my life, I picked up drawing/sketching again. Reading allowed me to get perspective about the bigger picture. It is an exercise in gratitude to remember all that you have going for you. But in general, there is something beautiful about losing track of time when you have a lot of time. I also started writing again because I have a lot of unexpressed emotions that needed to get expressed.

7. Similar to the last one, you have to keep busy. When your main task is just to apply for things, it’s easy to drown in a pool of Netflix and a diet of Ritz crackers and pop. I’ve gone through cycles of introversion and extroversion, and I’ve learnt to embrace that (not always very elegantly). There are some days you just won’t want to be home and want to catch up with everyone. Then, there are others were the thought of making small talk will bring you more anxiety than deemed possible.

8. You have to be the master of faking happiness. You have to master the art of lying to yourself about how happy you are. I know it seems really twisted, but I believe that when you truly believe you’re super happy, you’ll be bouncing with positivity. And let’s be real — you only get anything done when you’re in a positive mindset. Although fooling yourself is incentive enough, no matter how much your friends/family love you, nobody really likes a joykill and so master the art to maintain your relationships.

9. You have to laugh at yourself because really, what else is there to do? If you keep thinking about your past choices, you’ll drive yourself insane because you really can’t move backwards in time. If you constantly think about the future, you stop living in the present. If you stop living in the present…that’s…that’s….just silly.

10. You have to reach out to all your friends who have graduated and have adult lives and listen to everything they say. They have been through this and now afford rent. Their lives are magical and they tell you ridiculous things like, “it’ll all work out.” Older friends also have great networks and will connect you to amazing people and their resources. They are a standing and breathing ovation to the fact that job searching for x number of days isn’t the end of the world.

11. You have to remember to do all the things that are necessary to living such as eating, sleeping and excercise. Even though you have no where to go and perhaps no routine, your body still needs it’s basic requirements. These are all challenging things when you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing and that you’re just wasting time…. but, yeah.

12. You have to read the news, everyday to remind yourself how small you are in the grand scheme of the world. You have to read the news everyday to remain humble and practise gratitude. You have to read the news to participate in the bigger picture of humanity, perhaps take a stance, have a perspective, understand the issue. You have to remember how small you really are. You have to remember how small your problems are not just within the grand scheme of things, but even within your lifetime.

13. A mentor of mine told me that it’s hard because for many of us, it’s the first time we don’t have a plan. For the first 18 years in your life, you (or I did, anyway) spend every waking moment doing whatever it takes to get to university. You volunteer, study hard, do standardized tests, etc. When you go to university, you became wrapped in student life — figuring out majors, figuring out classes, finding your community and your people. Your main goal is to graduate. Once you do, it’s only natural that you feel this sense of loss because you haven’t quite figured out the next step (in my case, anyway).

Please write to me if you have any thing to add to this or have any personal anectodes. I will happily include and reference you. There will also be the added benefit of being friends and such.

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Dreams, Rambles, Self-Development, Uncategorized

Believing in Extraordinary Happenings

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I never thought I’d be the one to say it’s funny how life is, but to be honest – that’s the best and only way to put recent developments. My year has been nothing but a roller coaster. I have never felt more out of control, more anxious; I simply did not buy a ticket to this growing up ride that I was practically thrown into.

And thus, I grudgingly made plans and started having some mild form of visions and long term agenda of what I wanted for myself; where I might contribute something to this world and have some minor impact instead of just “being”. My best laid plans didn’t work out the way I wanted them too, despite all my efforts and deep strategizing. I consumed myself to the point of livid drunkenness with passionate, illogical and almost blind vigour. I’m speaking in riddles and vagueness with intention;  the lessons I learnt this week will probably be applied and will reoccur many many times in my optimistically, long life. They will be learned and relearned and when I’m sixty I’ll have some decently exciting stories of that time I was 22 years old and lived in a studio apartment where I had a french press and felt like the most independent and self-sufficient Indian woman in a diverse, green, urban city and received treatment from a decently functioning healthcare system.

Khaled Hosseini wrote that we all want extraordinary things to happen to us; we all want our life to be the exception to what the natural trend of the population and state of affairs is. Obviously there is a lot of struggle and suffering to reaching whatever our goals and dreams are, but we always earnestly hope things will work out and we pray to all the gods we don’t believe in that they do. 

I realized that I’m not sensitive to people and their unneeded thoughts; my intense, overwhelming sensitivity comes from the daily happenings and experiences of my world. I crawl into a ball and ponder and reflect and agonize beyond anything considered healthy. But in a way, by experiencing such emotions so strongly, I am able to let it go and move the fuck on. I need to go through the entire spectrum of bullshit to feel relief; I need to reinvent the whole wheel to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement.  And therefore, I got into an ugly phase in my life where I waded continuously in this pool of frustrating want to be more. Brimmed to the top with self-loathing and doubt and lack of faith, and most importantly – a need for control. 

And I know that I love this repeated game of collapsing and overcoming. The game is exhausting and endless and tiresome but it is the only thing that makes me feel like a human being with a heart. This feeling of feeling everything too much. But, I’d rather play this exhausting game of life with the privileged card of hands I’ve been dealt with, then play no game with no cards. 

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Uncategorized

I Forgot to Write.

I don’t know how I let myself not write for so long. I don’t know the transitionary states that enabled me to come to a point in my life where I feel overwhelmed with despair and uncertainty and so much negativity for life. I think life was happening too fast for me to catch up with it and actually sit down and reflect, and I know I say this all the time – but writing has been the one constant in my life that has gotten me past everything so far. And perhaps, the lack of writing is what has resulted in a coat I have started to wear of being undeniably cheerful, because I can’t possibly articulate my despair and frustration for life in a few coherent sentences. In order for someone to fully understand the magnitude of my experiences would be endless conversations over many, many cups of tea – and even then, it would be a futile, discounted attempt at the full entirety and essence of what I am currently feeling. But, I have never needed external understanding of myself. I think I desperately sought it because the conversation helped in bringing about clarity and an oppurtunity to reflect. And it’s cheesy, yet true – but writing has always done that for me when I have fully thrown myself into the words, without thinking of consequence and possible judgements from strangers. And it’s a shame that I had temporarily forgotten that. 

This year has been a constant struggle. I realize the word struggle may be quite strong in the large scheme of the universe. But, within the context of my short 22 years, I am truly believing that this may be one of the hardest periods. I have never felt more confused. Although I have felt unbearable loneliness, overwhelming amounts of suffering and pain – this may be amongst the top worst times. I feel like my next steps in the post-grad life is what will ultimately define me. I feel like I am unable to physically cope with the fact that I have a chronic health condition that nobody will ever understand, that will plague me till the very end, and ultimately – I have no control over.

And this is what I am struggling with – an ultimate lack of control.

My health, my lack of direction, my lack of career path, my lack of Plan A, B, C, D, E, F.

And the crippling, unrealistically high expectations I have of myself, weighted with those of my family, and the generations before that.

And the truth is, I know it will all work out. I know that something or the end will end up working out and it’ll be fine and in a year or two or five, I’ll be in a better place. But, I’m currently in what seems like a blackhole of a limbo period and I’m honestly getting so tired of pretending I’m fine.  

 

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