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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Relationships

numero uno priority.

the life-consuming need to obtain validation and approval from the two individuals who brought you to this world, even when they way and means of their doing so doesn’t completely fit the way you need it. the angst and ongoing inner turmoil, that has been prevalent for so long, that its mark on your soul is a soft murmur that never really goes away, but you’ve learnt to ignore and live with it because you don’t know anything else. the small concrete examples of the way you’re not being validated give you so much joy, because you can convince yourself you’re not oversensitive and delusional and overly emotional. and then you blame yourself for ways you could have asked for it better, or could have communicated why it bothers you so endlessly so.

you make excuses for them, for yourself. they’re busy making a living, they’re busy making a living to support you, dammit. what more can you ask from them. and that they obviously didn’t do that bad of a job because you turned out decent, and they could have easily screwed you up alot more. you make excuses that start with, but it’s because i’m emotional and thus, i need this and that and this and i can’t expect it all from two people. that’s what friends are there for.

you look around. friends equally, unequivocally busy as you are,  they are. friends who move away to different cities. friends who start working and now are actual adults in the real-world. friends who now have new friends because you didn’t seem them for a week too long. friend’s who forget you when they start dating the boy you had rooted for them for. you’re so damn happy for them, but there’s a sadness to it because you’re now number two in their list of priority people.

and you wonder why you can’t find yourself that kind of happiness, why you are so unbelievably unprepared in that one aspect of life, and how it’s not an issue most of the time because you are content with the people in your life and the meaning they add to it, when they’re present and wholly there with you. but they’re not there now and they haven’t been for a while, and the attention given isn’t the same. when you’re not their first priority.

and that’s all there is to it, right. everybody needs to be someone’s first priority. we’re social creatures, this is nothing new. we need others to be a healthy functional person. for a long, long ass time (8 years), i was numero uno priority to the people who raised me. and then, my sibling came along (and i’m so glad he did), and children of other people became priorities for other reasons (that bring sadness on a  another, different level).

and so, you get accustomed to being pushed away for other people, who aren’t necessarily better, but are just more important. and you learn that difference the hard way after countless nights of self-reflection. and the pushing away is so damn subtle, so slowly occurring, that you don’t realize till even years, months, weeks later. and it’s not even that you’re pushed away exactly, it’s just that you’re not a priority. you’re taken for granted as someone who will be fine, who is so damn independent and strong, that you couldn’t possibly need to be their sole rock. because, no  – you’re your own rock. and it’s always assumed that you’re fine, that you’re doing well, that there are so many good things going for you, how could you possibly be not fine.

you never wanted to be your own rock.

but you had to be.

you had to be your own first and sole priority, because you were only somewhere on the top 5 in others. they’ll deny it. they’ll use words to discount the endless feeling of loneliness you feel, that you can’t possibly forget. because people will forget the words and will believe them, but the will never forget they way a person made them feel. but you, you’ll believe their words because finding it blame to yourself is so much easier than blaming them.

and, so you grew up. you became stronger and more confident and more able to put words that are hard to communicate into actual physical sentences, even if nothing is capatalized. and you’ll write about them, because for the first time, you’re giving yourself the right to feel and own your feelings. and you’ll write because they need to be expressed in some way, even if its not the ideal way. because, there’s no use in telling someone that you’re hurt that you’re not their first priority when they won’t do anything to change it. when all you’ll get is a node, an oo, and ah, and a false promise to do better. when understanding is just simply not enough.

and then you realize the extent to how much it is has affected you.  that you don’t even know how to be someone’s first priority because you never, really, ever were after you turned 8 years old.  that you directly and indirectly push people away who try, who make that small effort to show it, and who themselves truly believe it, but you tell yourself that they have the wrong intentions and have a deep-rooted fear of what will happen if you get used to being that number one and have it taken away from you. and so you cut it off before they have any chance.

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Friendship, Relationships, Self-Development

Life is not the Sims & Please Go Away

If you play sims, you know that each activity, behavior or personality trait can eventually reach mastery/completion. For example, you can reach “mastery” in cooking or being charismatic, or being a professional athlete, etc. I do believe that there are many specific behaviours and skills that one can work on similarly, in real life. The difference is that there is no mastery or peak point to many of these abstract concepts.

In the past few years, I’ve found the place and oppurtunity to strengthen some of these useful skills. For example, I’m definitely more confident and less-shy when talking to new people. I’m more able to maintain a conversation with people I have nothing in common with. I’m able to pay for and do my own groceries, cook, clean and take care of myself. I’m a lot more outgoing and extroverted than my high-school self. I’m more spontaneous, and take things less personally. I deal with awkward situations better.

So to summarize: there are many facets that one can work and improve on. However, there are other traits that either don’t change, change very slowly, or are simply out of your comfort-zone for the moment. I used to see these types of traits as excuses and weaknesses, especially in myself. I used to compare myself and wonder why I struggled in those specific aspects.

Although, I’m always the type to face your challenge, face your fears and all that…. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in respecting and accepting your boundaries. It’s important to know and communicate them. I’m learning that a lot of who we are can’t be planned or consciously controlled, but should be left alone, to simply happen on its own will when ready. I used to think that if you created the perfect environment and mental preparation for growth, it would happen…you know, like a plant or a bacterial colony. I used to think of it as a straightforward reaction.

But, sometimes you’re just not ready or are just not that person.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I think what I’m trying to say is the tale old cliche of being and accepting yourself. It’s important to have patience when change does happen, at the slowest rate possible… or demonstrating self-acceptance when it does not.

In the worlds of Facebook and social media, I feel constantly bombarded with portrayals of what and who should I be. I know for a fact that I am easily swayed by new ideas due to my naivety. But it’s fatally unhealthy to try and fail at being someone you’re not, to do things you’re not comfortable with, to go so much out of your comfort zone that you can’t connect to your self anymore.

I recently had a very bad experience where someone told me I wasn’t enough in one particular aspect. It had wounded me deeply since I cared about this person and what they thought of me. I had despised and hated them for making it come to my awareness of how much I lacked in life-experience. How could I have possibly lived so long and not tried to change, I wondered. As I drowned in my own self-made ocean of self-hate, I talked to a better friend. A better friend who made me realize there is no wrong way to be, there is no wrong way to live, and there is specifically no traits that make one person better than the other.

In my world, life is not a competition. It is not a room of achievements and accomplishments and milestones. It is acceptance and beauty and understanding – and most importantly, compassion. Despite my naivety, I do believe that diverse personalities are the only way to have a colourful ecosystem.

If you’re wondering, I have removed”said-friend” out of my life, for good.

I only have time and energy for people who make me happier and truly have my best interests, and don’t want me to become someone else.

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Rambles, Relationships, Self-Development

Independence

I came back to Vancouver thinking now would be the perfect time to be independent. What could be more independent than living by yourself, cleaning the apartment you live alone in, cooking most/all your meals? But, I think independence is more than just that. It’s feeling happy being yourself by yourself, for no real reason. This endeavour has always proved stressful and challenging. I guess I won’t have it down pat any time soon, and I’ll have days of success….but then again, how do you measure progress on being individual? There’s no aha moment.

Anyway, I think the ultimate form of independence for me would be eventual financial independence. I doubt I’ll be there any time soon…hopefully within 5 years, max. But, I’m realizing that I want financial independence because it allows me to be stupid and make mistakes. Right now, it feels like everything I do, I owe my parents in some way. Successes and failures, they’re all deeply rooted in what my parents expect of me. I guess I was raised much more traditionally than I ever thought. Even though I’m 20, I’m still striving and constantly hoping my life decisions and achievements please them. How uncool is that?

I don’t think my parents actually feel a huge sense of burden, but I’m hoping that they’re finding some sort of happiness in being financially responsible. But, it’s not all about the money, right? Or is it? If my parents didn’t have the money, wouldn’t I be under way more stressed than I already am? This constant need to achieve something. Although personally, I think I’m okay being mediocre. I think mediocre is not ideal because its not glamourized. But then again, most of us will end up mediocre. What’s the measure of mediocrity? What’s with the obsession of measuring everything?

I think this is what a Science undergrad degree does to you. Mechanisms of the world are much more pragmatically viewed than it should be. But, any one who knows me will say I am far more influenced by emotions than pragmatism. I think I like feeling like I’m pragmatic more than actually being pragmatic. It’s boring being logical, it’s boring wanting to please your parents, it’s unbelievably boring trying to be good.

But that’s not the post I intended to make. Recently, I read a post on Thought Catalogue about the relationship we have with money growing up. Growing up, I was usually in a happy medium of getting almost everything that I wanted. We didn’t splurge. We bought things that were useful or relevant. We were never deprived of anything, but we never had the latest phone. We were amongst the last to get things, like gameboys or the latest fad of marbles. But lately, everything seems to be coming easier, yet the cost of having them seems higher.

I’m obviously not done with this trail of thought….but, to be continued.

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Dreams, Rambles, Relationships, Uncategorized

Shitty writing, Any writing.

I haven’t been feeling myself lately.

Or rather, I haven’t been feeling the positive, happy me in a while. The one that does things and is motivated and likes being around people. The one who always can find something to write about.

So here goes, shitty writing is better than no writing because this is what I do to feel like a person. Some people play music, some people paint. But everyone does something or the other that makes them solely happy. And so, I may not write about happy things, but to be honest, I’m tired and exhausted. Tired and exhausted at trying to always put a smile on.

Anyway. I’ve been called “sheltered” and “privileged” this last week, by two people. I’ve felt this judgment from others who weren’t polite enough to say it. After being defensive and appalled, I realized that it was true. To an extent anyway. Why the fuck should I feel bad about being either? I didn’t choose to be either, I was born into a lucky family. And I thank the stars everyday for it. I’ve seen close kin who don’t have the oppurtunities I do.

I hear it from my parents, I feel it from my friends, my inner voice repeats it over and over every time I mess up. And that’s what it really is. Although there are numerous advantages like never having to worry about money, or being able to splurge, or being able to eat well…..there is also tremendous pressure to do well. After being given all these advantages, I have to make something of myself. I need to be ambitious and go after my hopes and dreams and all that sizzle. Because I was given everything on a platter, and I can’t throw it all away.

And sometimes, the pressure, whether explicitly said or not ….is too much. Sometimes, I want to do what the protagonist does – run away and leave everything behind. And thus, a beginning of adventures begin. So in a sense, I’m in a cage of sorts, but it’s the kind of cage that people dream about.

Besides, everyone is in some form of a cage. Even if the cage is self-built on simply ideals of what our life should be.

I guess the only thing I should take away form this is that I should make mistakes. Some mistakes. Mistakes that somewhat well thought out, somewhat not costly, somewhat recoverable. But I can’t make the mistake of making big mistakes. And hence, I may even have to let things go instead of act on them. I need to prioritize and be selfish.

Have I changed? In a sense, I feel like I haven’t changed since I was 10 years old at all. But sometimes I feel like I’m the much better version of who I used to be. And fortunately, there’s always a newer better version to work on.

So, to the people who have judgements about me, whether good, bad or false – you don’t know my story. And I don’t know yours. Which is why I watch what I say.

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Relationships

Woven Stories

The bookstore was two blocks down from her place. The entire space was tiny because two windows lit up the entire room. The square shaped room utilized every inch of floor space there was. Sturdy strong wooden bookshelves held up rows of books. The novels seemed to be as old as the bookshelves themselves. Although there really was no dust, it was the type of store one would think had been inhabited for years.

But, it was very much a habitat for one individual. He didn’t exactly live there; he spent so much time working there. Sometimes he would fall asleep on the chair, only to be woken up by the rustling of the morning. He had only started working there for a few weeks. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world. He was broke all the time. But, it was easy and he could spend most of his days doing what he loved most – reading and talking to people.

She had walked past this store countless times. As a young, freshly graduated student – she spent most of her time looking for a better job. Although her current job was decent, she had spent the last four years dreaming of more. This simply wasn’t it. Graduate school was the next obvious choice, but she had chosen financial independence and poverty instead. She hosted potluck parties instead of going out to dinners. She made poorer friends. She went on coffee dates instead of actual dates. That was a lie – she didn’t date.

Her flask of instant coffee in her hand, she was giddy going to work. Her steps had an air of confidence that she often lacked. She wouldn’t question where it came from – confidence was always lovely when it washed over. It must have been her boots. There was something about the short brown pair she wore that made her feel like a total bad ass.

She’d seen the bookstore being renovated. She’d seen it transform from an old Chinese medical store to a bohemian inspired cavern of hidden stories. A smile or two would always be exchanged. Sometimes, she would wave and he would wave back. She knew they could be friends. He read books for a living, practically. This was her kind of man. And thus, the epic saga of a fantasy had already started to weave itself, before any words had even been exchanged.

Three weeks later, the store finally opened. A painted red sign read OPEN. He sat on the stool inside. The window had finally been cleaned, with actual soap, so the interior of the space was fully visible from outside. He appeared to be reading. But really, he was just nervous. What if nobody came in? She decided not to go right away, after all, she was late to work as it was.

The same day, it was 6’oclock when she passed it again. He was locking up, leather satchel swung to his side. His dirty bangs were longer than they should have been, and his shirt hung loose. It had been a relatively long day, and he hadn’t been able to focus on reading with all the excitement. This new venture had cost him a lot, and hopefully it would be worth it.

He said hi. She said hi and asked him how his first day was. He said something interesting, she laughed and smile. He asked her if she was hungry. She said she was always hungry. The walked down the street, exchanging causalities. He picked a diner that he claimed was cheap and good. She said that cheap was exactly what she wanted. They had a few beers. They talked about irrelevant things. Her apartment was on the way, so they walked together. They said bye.

This was just the beginning. This happened more times. Sometimes, she would be so tired, she’d just come in the store. Sometimes they wouldn’t even talk. They would be wrapped in their own thoughts. He’d ask her about her short term plans. She would ask if he saw the last episode of whatever show was super popular. They were in each other lives, but not really.

She tried to define the relationship. It was a friendship of sorts. But it was entirely passive on both ends. His store happened to be in the way of her daily life. She would just come in and they would have delightful conversations that made her feel alive. He made her feel like a person. He validated her stupid endless thoughts and made them somewhat significant.

She craved intimacy, but she didn’t know how. Her imagination ran wild as she stayed up nights thinking of unlimited possibilities. Maybe she could quit her job, and they could expand the store to a coffee and bookstore. Maybe they’d both quit their jobs and just go travel the world. Maybe he’d write her a love letter. Maybe they would get married and she would do the whole white picket fence thing that she’d always despised. That he’d come home from work, and she’d make tea, and they’d sit by the window.

The feelings washed over her. He had no idea, and his bangs grew longer. He felt like a bad ass sometimes, the type of guy who casually hooked up and broke young girl’s hearts. He would shamelessly flirt with other customers while she was there. She would console herself, saying that he was just doing his job. The days passed and activities grew repetitive.

Her visits grew fewer, as her want of more increased. She wonder if he noticed her absence. She wondered if he even missed her. Out of the blue one day, she walked into the store. Her walk was the same kind of a super model on a runway. They made chitchat for a while, before she blatantly wrote her number on a piece of paper. She was a girl, shouldn’t it be easier to seduce someone? But regardless, she gave him the piece of paper. He took it, not really understanding, she was here all the time. Why did things have to change.

She stopped going to the store altogether, and used an alternate longer route to get to work. He noticed but didn’t do anything about it. He obviously liked her presence. He liked her support and when she laughed. But he was in his prime. This wasn’t the time to date. He didn’t even have the time to maintain friendships. He was troubled and awkward, but didn’t do anything.

She distracted herself with books and movies and friends. The days passed slowly. Sometimes she couldn’t even tell the days apart. Most of the time she was an utter zombie to this whole living thing. She lost sleep over why he didn’t call, she ate unhealthily, and slept in whenever she possibly could.

His bangs grew longer, but now, nobody asked him to trim them. When he was closing, her chirpy voice no longer filled the confines of the space. He was actually able to do his job better without her looming presence constantly distracting him. He couldn’t really fathom that someone like her would fall so hard for a bum like him. He just assumed that life had caught up. He assumed that she was finally making the effort to befriend her colleagues, or to spice up her love life or maybe she was reading that book she’d bought ages ago.

Oblivion and pride, and the inability of saying things. Her mind raced as to why he couldn’t quite put the pieces of the puzzle together. And she couldn’t quite understand what was stopping her. Rejection, obviously….but her state of affairs clearly indicated that this was a venture she must fully divulge into, before closing its doors. What if he simply couldn’t verbalize as well as she could?

Time passed and she returned.

Words hinted, and he understood. But something lacked.

And thus, there lay her wonderfully woven fantasy.

Stories didn’t end well for a hopeless romantic.

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Rambles, Relationships, Self-Development

I think I just spent the last 19 years missing the point of family entirely.

I spent most of those years being angry at who they were and at what they lacked. I spent so much time trying to understand them, to see how I fit in, to test their love for me. I spent years dissecting their shortcomings and their differences to other families. I though about running way on multiple occasions – even till I was 18 years old. Yes, I had an emergency fund.

I don’t think those years were a total waste, though. I really don’t want to explain. We grow, we become better individuals, ya da ya da. Basically, I was being a teenager.

But I think the worst of it was that I felt like I didn’t belong in my own family. I felt misunderstood. But by that definition of being understood, nobody is every truly understood by anybody. It’s impossible to fully know someone. Most people live their entire lives not knowing themselves.

Point is – the distance has made me appreciate them. They’re the only people who will love me fully at my worst. If I turn out to be a major disappointment in society’s definition of success, they will still accept me. I’m not saying I don’t have friends who will also love me like that, but this isn’t about friendship. This is about loving a group of people you really had no choice in being connected to.

It’s scary the power and love behind a blood connection.

I’m digressing all over the place.

I didn’t intend this to be a I-love-my-family blog.

This was meant to be…..a. Wow, I was a stupid teenager blog. Not that I’m saying I’m a not-stupid person now. I still am. I’m just glad I finally have this understanding when there’s still time to make changes. I think my family knew this would come. They had hope that I would finally see this. But, like them, I’m glad I realized when I was 20 and not 40.

I’m also saying that this was a difficult realization because I question everything. I question people, their motivations, their intentions, their personalities, the relationship I have with the. But, family is one group of people I don’t need to question. We’re extensions of each other, just different in time and space and generation and circumstance. We like the same things, think the same thoughts….and that’s fucking beautiful.

My family recently moved from Bangkok, Thailand to Thunderbay, Canada. We have a big house on a hill overlooking snowy mountains. It’s a quiet neighborhood. We have privacy and comfort. My father works at the University of Thunderbay and my brother goes to school. My mother, who has never been a housewife, and I love her for it, is finally taking a professional break. It’s so comforting knowing that she’s spending all her time and energy making a house in the middle of nowhere… a home.

Yes, I’ve thougroguhly idealized and romanticized the situation, and become blatantly blind to the negatives – but fuck it, I’m so happy.

From House to Home.

Aside