Let’s get emotional.

“Everything you’re feeling now, I’ve felt it too.  All the things I’m going through, you’ve been there too.”

– Me.

I’m in one of those moods, you know the mood where you wake up, its a lovely sunny autumn day, and you feel like being productive.  Yet, there’s a heaviness within.  And it’s not a negative thought that really drags you down, but its a reflective one, where you think to yourself “today feels good for me, but how does it feel for others?”.  It was one of those mornings where I woke up thinking more about other people than about myself, which I think is necessary at times.

A lot of the time, when we face problems, we tend to assume we’re all alone because we are all our own person, we are all independent and its natural to be a little egotistic and prioritise oneself.  Yet, when we widen our perspective, you find that these emotions that you go through are just part of being human, and that everyone else feels or has felt the same way too.

Happiness, anger and pain (all in incredibly simplified terms) are emotions that every single one of us experiences.  What is more, it’s contagious.  We laugh and smile when others are happy, we get angry when we see injustice and we get really uncomfortable when we see pain and suffering.  And yet, when we say that an emotion is contagious, we really only talk about happiness, you know the famous saying “happiness is contagious”. Yes, it’s true, but what about the other emotions?  Personally, I think they are just as contagious, and it is here that we need to tread carefully.

When we see pain, suffering and injustice, we are inclined to turn a blind eye, and be voluntarily ignorant, because we don’t want to feel the same pain or suffering.  This is our tendency.  The more negative the emotion is that is stirred within us, the more likely we will want to repress it, because those of us who are not suffering do not want to be reminded of the hurt.  But, here is the problem.  If we consistently turn a blind eye because we don’t want to face the pain, what hope is there to be able to help those who are suffering?

In order to help others relieve their suffering, we need to be in a position to empathise, that is, to put ourselves in their shoes.  This can be painful, this can stir unhappy memories, but I think it’s a necessary aspect if you want to help someone.  Letting others reach out to you, and similarly, reaching out to others, is not a sign of weakness, nor a sign of great philanthropy, but I think it’s being in touch with the true human nature that is: empathy, cooperation and love.  It’s no use to repress negative emotions, because they create us, just as much as the positive emotions.  And I would think, that it is these negative emotions that allow us to help, because our natural inclination is to prevent others from feeling how we felt.

What is more, you don’t need to be on top of current affairs to realise that pain and suffering is so real for thousands of people, in so many different ways.  They need to know that we care.  It can be as close as a friend, a family member, a neighbour who is struggling with something, it can be as far away as people in conflict-ridden countries, people who are seeking refuge.  Pain and suffering is not contained to a specific area, to a country, or to certain situations.  It is not gender/ethnicity/religion specific.  It happens to everyone, everywhere.  Yet, people in pain, people who are suffering, I don’t think are given enough voice, or space to be able to openly speak out, and seek help.  The more we turn a blind eye, the less help is given.  The more we get in touch with our natural emotions, positive and negative, the more help is given.  Perhaps, this is a much to simple equation, but at the same time, I think it’s the simplicity that makes it so difficult.

I guess what I am trying to say here, is that we are constantly trying to gain the positive emotions; we are constantly trying to be happy.  But negative emotions like sadness, and anger, are not always “negative”.  They are part of being human too, and they can help us be grateful, they can help us lend a helping hand, they can connect us with others just as much as happiness can.  Which is why, I don’t think they should be repressed.

I don’t want to sound too much like I’m preaching to the choir, but sometimes I feel that I need to remind myself to put myself in a position to feel the pain and suffering so I can openly let other reach out to me, and I thought that I’d take this opportunity to share my thoughts here with you too.

What are your thoughts on this, I would love to know.

Happy weekend everyone. x

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How Grateful Are You Really?

Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favourite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.
– Brene Brown

 

Gratitude. We hear about it, we talk about it, but how grateful are you really?

The reason why I bring this up now, is because I am currently writing two papers and just did a presentation on the global refugee issue. With my research I read many articles and books on foreign and domestic policies of different states, legal conventions and treaties on refugees, but most importantly the experiences of refugees. Unsurprisingly, what I found out, was how little rights these people had, and how exposed and insecure they are while they go and cross borders, literally risking their lives in all aspects.  What did surprise me, was how surprised I was at all of these findings.

We all know the privileges we have in life, and we are aware of them when we want to be.  We also always thank others when they do a favour for you, and show gratitude then. We also know that there are things that we take for granted that come easier for you than it does to someone else, and we are also aware of how fortunate our lives our in comparison to others.  But all of this, I must admit, is only on my mind when I am actively thinking about it, when it comes up in conversation, or when I stumble upon the horrors of the lack of human rights many people are living with right now. And yet, when reading about it, it seem that it is these peoples who are the most grateful, who show the most happiness much more regularly than we do… how can this be?

This is a very delicate issue I think, so I want to be very careful with how I word each sentence, but I believe that gratitude is a powerful thing. Gratitude cures a multiple of sins, it brings people together and allows people to help each other. Being grateful for what you have, means you are aware of what other lack.  And knowing this, understand that it is in your power to resolve such issues. They don’t have to be big issues. It can be banal and in a daily setting. Say, for example, you had a packed lunch today. It contained of two sandwiches, an apple and an orange.  Your friend, on the other hand, his/her parents were ill and so he/she had to quickly make something themselves. Theirs contained of just a sandwich. In this scenario, you realise that you are more fortunate to have both an apple and an orange, so you give one of it to your friend. Being grateful that your parents were healthy that day, helped you asses the situation and help someone in a lesser position.

But gratitude isn’t just about being in a better or less situation.  Whatever situation you are in, good or bad, at that moment in time, that is a reality, a fact and it cannot be changed.  What gratitude does do, is help you in the perception of such situation. Yesterday you had a job, and today you got fired. Your situation is now sh*t, and you feel like sh*t. Humiliated maybe, frustrated definitely. But take a step back and you realise that you still have a family, or you still have a house, you might have back up plans that you can fall back on, and all of these things are aspects that you can be grateful about that can now be a source to push you forward rather than back.

We take a lot of things for granted, so much so that it’s almost impossible for us to image lives without phones or tv’s, let alone food, water and shelter.  We go to school or work everyday unbeknownst that thousands on the other side of the world would give an arm or leg to be able to just attend one class.  We complain when there’s traffic or when a train’s been delayed when thousands of people have only feet as their mode of transportation.  Even as we spend Christmas with our family all sharing presents, we are unaware that people, maybe even in the same neighbourhood, cannot enjoy it in the same way because of a loss of a family member or a dysfunctional family.  Whatever situation we are in, there will always be someone better or worse off than you. And instead of focusing on what you wished you had, always looking up, take a moment to think of what you do have.  And when you do this, you realise just how privileged you are, and how grateful you should be.

Gratitude isn’t just about being grateful when the need arises, it is being grateful everyday, all the time for everything that you have.  For good weather, for clothes, for food, literally everything around you that you can be grateful for. Sooner or later, you realise that despite huge disparities, there are things that we are grateful for and that we share with the stranger next to us.  It helps us connect with others through this warm feeling and growing happiness, and build communities and lend a helping had as a result.

We, myself included, only show gratitude when we remember to do so. But imagine living in a world where each and every one of us showed gratitude daily. That would pave the way to a whole new world of communities that share, that help and that are so much more wholesome, wouldn’t you agree?

So I’ll ask the same question again, how grateful are you? Did you remember to show gratitude today? It is my aim from hereon, to always remember to show gratitude, limit my complaints, and understand that I am privileged enough to have all the essentials for life, but also a laptop to share my thoughts with as well.

Thank you, for always dropping by, for reading my posts, and for commenting or liking them too.

Have a lovely weekend.x

Opening up hurts… Literally

Life is a balance of letting go and holding on

– Unknown

So this semester, I am taking a yoga class as part of my daily schedule.  I’ve never taken a yoga class, so I thought it was a great opportunity to finally have some professional guidance, and believe me, it’s a lot harder physically and mentally than it looks, but simultaneously incredibly rewarding.  It’s been 4 weeks, and I’ve been able to learn a lot about my body.  And have found ways to appreciate just how limitless it is, celebrating what it can do rather than what it can’t.  The benefit of an instructor also means that I am educated on the meaning of each position and how it helps the mind as well as my body.

Today, I want to focus on two lessons that really opened my eyes.

The first was the lesson on balance.  Personally, I’ve learned to physically balance; from training in tennis, learning to be balanced when you land on one leg, and the usual fundamentals of balance.  I have also learned as I was growing the importance of the term balance in daily life: balancing social life and school life, work life and personal life etc.  Balance is therefore clearly a word that is often used, and as a result, has many meanings.  Yet one thing that it definitely implies, is to make use of something when something else is missing.  Physical balance is important because it allows you to stand when you don’t have the function of both legs.  Emotional/psychological balance is important because it helps you keep calm or focused when something else is desperately trying to steer your focus away.  At least, for the last 20 years of my life, this is how I perceived balance to be.

Then my instructor defined balance, and it really struck a chord:

Balance is not stationary.  It is not about staying still, it’s about understanding the push and pull from the 4 axis (north, south, east, west) and to allow the constant movement, and about accepting and going with the movement.

What does this mean?! Well, this is my interpretation (and the wonderful thing about yoga is that every pose has a different meaning for each individual).  Balance is not about making the most of a situation when there is something missing.  It does not even necessarily mean that something is lacking.  Rather, balance is about harmonising the constant forces around you that are tugging at you for attention.  In order to stand straight with a good posture, you have to use the north and south axis (the forces that pull at your head and push from your feet), and combine the two.  You are using both the force of gravity but also the force that’s not gravity at your head, so that you do not fall over.  Balance, is therefore about constant movement.  Not necessarily visible movement, but to know that there is definite movement within that you are controlling.  Balance is not about being stationary because being stationary means resistance.  The body is naturally inclined to keep moving, and so being still is resisting its natural inclination.  And this point in particular is true not just physically, but also emotionally and psychologically.  We are naturally inclined to constantly have thoughts, and balance does not mean to suppress them.  It’s means to move with them, mould them, shape them into thoughts that are more positive and helpful.  Basically it was here I learned the meaning of “sound body, sound mind” in that the body and mind are similar because they need constant shaping, constant movement.  It’s hard but important not to resist and use the movement for positivity.

The second lesson was from the class where we did inversions.  My God.  Inversions are the scariest thing, because you have to bend your back and spine in ways that is not only painful (hence the title of this post) but also just seems so unnatural.  The first explanation of the meaning of inversions that our instructor gave was that inversions look towards the future.  Because you are bending your back, you are ultimately stretching out the front of your body, where the heart is then completely open.  The opening up movement allows for the front muscles to relax, and therefore also help you feel more positive and mindful at the end of the practice.  What was interesting was her point that the natural stance of humans is slightly rounded at the front, to protect our heart from harm.  In other words, instinctively we are closed.  A lot of muscle therefore builds up at the front, which can leave you a little more negative than usual.  By opening up, you not only let go of all inhibitions and the mental limits placed on you (which was definitely there because I didn’t think I could do backbends), and instead leaves you exposed to you and all the potential stored in your body.  It truly was such a inspirational lesson because (believe it or not) I did feel I broke a mental barrier in how I put limits on myself, and helped me gain a much more inspired and positive outlook.  It’s one of those things that because it really does hurt because you’re stretching really big muscles, and going against natural postures, you probably won’t do everyday, but on days you feel a bit negative, it’s great to restore positivity.

Anyway, the conclusion is that there is so much to be learned through yoga, and despite only being 4 weeks in, I am learning a lot.  It just goes to show how much there is to still learn about our body and our mind, but also helps one really appreciate the vast abilities of our tiny bodies.

 

Happy weekend to you all. x

It’s Not About Nonconformism: Trying to Stay Analogue in a Digital Age.

“We try many ways to be awake, but out society still keeps us forgetful.  Meditation is to help us remember”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

A few days ago, I made the decision to delete all of my social media applications off my phone at least for this month.  This means no Instagram, no Facebook nor Facebook messenger for the rest of September.  There’s a couple reasons why I did this, which I will go into more detail later on, but as you read this, I would like you to continuously ask yourself “Would my life be so different if I lived in analogue?”.

The simple answer, in other words, the answer that automatically comes up without any thought is “yes”.  Yes, it would be different, and no, in this day and age it’s impossible to live without some kind of digital source.  But this is where the thought exercise comes in; this automated thought, is it because you genuinely believe this to be true, or is it because the environment we live in now has moulded your values to believe this to be true?  It’s complex, uncomfortable and arguably controversial, but also necessary, and interesting to think of such things.  Or maybe its because I like to play the devils advocate sometimes that I find this interesting.

Anyhow.  The thought to delete these apps came about simply because 1) it was taking up whole chunks out of my day 2) I was starting to become obsessed and 3) because I wanted a new challenge and also something to write about here (I am being honest here!).  Yet to sum it up as one big picture, I started to feel that I was becoming distant with myself, and seeing others be distant with themselves, and I started to question the relevance and validity of social media.

I understand that social media can be argued to be a good thing.  I think (thought?) the same thing.  It widens your scope of knowledge, it helps you keep in touch with friends from other countries, and simultaneously allows for a much easier access of news, contact and what not.  The whole point of the new digital era was so that society could keep up with the growing globalised world, and with that, we would be able to communicate faster and lessen the gap between each human being.  Yet ironically, with the number of people on their phones during their meal, in the cinema, on a date, what was initially meant for communication, has become one of the main barriers of, well, communication.  What was initially meant to encourage the spread of words and knowledge, has led to less discourse, and a reluctance towards human to human contact.

Social media, like any invention (including democracy) can be utilised but also abused.  It has been a source of inspiration, but also a root of plenty of evil.  Social media has achieved in many ways what it sought to achieve on a global scale helping NGOs spread their word, raising awareness to certain issues and allowing the minorities a voice.  On a banal, daily life scale, it allows people to search for new recipes online, for ordinary people to share their own lifestyle hacks, and spread the word for a charity run they may be taking part in.  Similarly, on a global scale it has led to government hacking, activities by ISIS and close government monitoring that borderlines (if not is) a violation of human rights.  Likewise, on a local scale, it leads to unhealthy habits of comparison, eating disorders, mental disorders and lack of empathy and sympathy within young adults today.  Looking at this, it really is difficult, if not impossible to say whether its a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s really not that black and white.

Setting global issues aside, a personal issue I began to have with social media was the unhealthy habits, unhealthy psychological habits I began for form.  In all honesty, my Instagram usage hadn’t changed for many years, but maybe because of meditation or because I am more present with myself now than before, I began to realise how many times a day, I am almost automatically clicking the Instagram app and staying on it for quite a while.  It became so time consuming, and also something that made me more conscious of not how many “likes” I got, but who “liked” my posts.  While I was fortunate enough to realise my unhealthy habits, rather, realise that my habits were unhealthy, there are plenty of young kids who aren’t aware of this.  Those of us, who didn’t grow up in a digital age, might be more resilient, but kids who grew up with Instagram are more susceptible to this constant comparison with others.

Something else I realised was how little I was talking to people.  I talk to people, I message people.  I shop online and someone delivers the parcel to my door and say thank you.  But when I go to a store, I don’t really like it when a staff comes up  to me and starts talking about whatever item I was looking at.  I used to always put headphones in so people didn’t speak to me when I didn’t want to be spoken to.  I realised how I was living in a world where I avoided awkward conversations and unwanted meetings.  But if life is lived constantly avoiding things you don’t want to happen to you, how on earth will things improve?!  The fact that people are spending less face time with each other, means that the quality of communication is depreciating.  We are so used to one worded answers, that some people actually talk like how they would text in real life.  It really made me wonder, whether this life of social media, of knowing someone based on what they express through the screen was something I could live without…

My challenge has only started, and although I have plenty more opinions I want to share on this subject, I feel that it would be better to sum it all up once I complete my challenge, so in a months time, because well who knows, maybe I’ll come back and say social media is something we desperately need.

For the time being though, see how much time you spend on your phone, on Instagram, on Facebook, and think “is the time I’m spending now scrolling through all these posts really the best way to spend my time right now?”.  And I would love to hear your comments and opinions too!

Have a lovely weekend everyone, read a good book and drink some hot tea. x

Oh the Joys of Being Human: What meditating everyday for a month has taught me.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lets get straight to the point.  Meditating, yoga and the journey to de-stressed lifestyles and “finding oneself” are practices that have been present for centuries, but one that has only recently become a real “trend”.  In other words, recently, meditation and yoga have been much more accessible, and has allowed ordinary citizens (people who are not Monks) to also be able to experience similar practices, albeit not to the same extent.

So like the thousands of others out there now trying to live the life of a spiritual guru, I too, tried to test it out.  Personally, I’ve been meditating pretty regularly for about 3-4 months now, but in August, I committed myself to meditate every day, even if it was just for 5 minutes, to see what benefits it would bring me, and what amazing inspirations I might gain from it.

Long story short, it was full of contradictions.  Admittedly, one month is not enough to reap all the benefits, but it has taught me various, surprising things, which I will try and summarise as concisely as possible.

First is that if, like me, you went into meditation with the belief that you will soon be decluttering your life, will be disappointed.  Like I said, maybe if you do this in the long term, you might but I highly doubt it.  Why?  Because those of us who live in cities, who have jobs, go to school, or generally lead lives that does not involve working at a Monastery, do not have the benefit of living life focusing solely on meditation alone.  We have stuff to do!  We have to go to class, take orders from bosses, pick up children and cook dinner, clean the house, walk the dog, see your parents, see your friends, the list is endless.  Unfortunately, we just don’t have the life of not thinking about anything except for meditation, it’s just not part of our society.  So, no, even if you meditate everyday, you will not be free from stressors in life, and you will still have the occasional mess in the house, and the occasional breakdown.

Which leads to my second point, meditation does not make you immune to breakdowns.  In fact, I would say the complete opposite, and say that it makes you more vulnerable, and therefore more prone to feeling exposed.  You can take this as a good thing or a bad thing, but I was very, very appreciative of this, purely for the reason that it has made me that much more human.  What I found was that meditation helps you feel more grounded and secure… about your insecurities.  For that small amount of time you are sitting there breathing, and feeling your breath, you realise how small you are, and how big the world is.  With such a broadened perspective, you understand your insecurities and the problems you are currently facing, but simultaneously are also more in tune with other problems; poverty, conflict, displacement, and how compared to those, your own problems are so minute, and much more solvable it humbles you.  You realise that being vulnerable, does not mean being weak, but instead it means human.  And being human (which we all are) means we are being our true selves, which, is all we can hope to be really.

And finally, lets talk about time.  In the first couple days of my practice, I would find that during my meditation my mind would drift off to thinking about what I needed to do that day (I tended to meditate in the morning), and sometimes when I was especially stressed, I would even question why I am wasting my time meditating.  A few more days in and I had a sort of eureka moment.  These thoughts that popped up during my practices were a clear indication of the lack of concentration I had, which could easily be reflected on my other activities outside of meditation.  I started to question the fact that the mere 10 minutes I spent meditating, was probably whittled down to only 4-5 minutes of real meditation, and the rest was spent wasting my time, thinking I was wasting my time.  Once I realised this I became much more aware also on how little I would be concentrating on my school work, or my daily chores, and easily distracted by my phone, by talking to someone, or just anything other than what I was supposed to do.  The realisation of that 10 minutes being solely for meditation, and not worrying about time, or anything else, has really been the most beneficial teaching I gained from this month.  It’s not perfect, but I have become much, much more time-efficient in the things I do, and also, much more efficient in general.  To focus only on what you are doing at that present moment, is such a obvious thing, but something that it very difficult to do.  There are distractions left, right and centre.  Even when you are talking to someone, you might get distracted, but honestly, this concentration practice has helped me listen better, understand people’s opinions better, and no exaggeration, I feel I learned so much in this past month just through this practice.

In conclusion, I meditated for a whole month, and it was full of surprises.  It didn’t bring me peace, it brought me contradiction.  It didn’t bring me immunity, it brought me vulnerability.  It didn’t bring me zen, it brought me concentration.  It didn’t bring me superficial, it brought me human.  The most important lesson that I learned, was that human traits that we often see as disadvantageous, are in fact, the very thing that makes us human.  And what meditation has taught me was that these human characteristics of vulnerability, inner contradictions and lack of concentration are okay and what’s more, the more you embrace them, the stronger you become because you are more in tune with yourself.  In other words, meditation teaches you that it’s okay with not being okay sometimes, and in some ways, it’s also almost irrelevant how you deal with them.  It’s about focusing on what you have at the present moment, what you are doing, and whether you are doing that to the best of your ability.  It allows you to be grateful for what you have now, and know that life is not constant.  It allows you to embrace being human, and being alive.

So would I recommend it? Yes, highly.  It won’t make you a spiritual guru, it won’t destress you as much as you might think, but it will make you stronger in ways you didn’t know would be considered strong.  Also, meditation (I think) brings different realisations to each individual, which is what makes it special.  You, will have different experiences to me, and to the next person etc, and by sharing it with your friends and family, our knowledge of being human expands.

 

Happy meditating everyone. x

I thought I couldn’t. But I tried, and I did.

I thought I never could.

But I tried (and tried… and failed… and tried),

And eventually, I did.

– Me

Okay, so I won’t take the whole credit for this quote, because there are so many on this topic, as are so many lectures and self-help books for you to indulge in should you want some inspiration… but hey, here’s another one!

Sometimes, I look back on the things I’ve done so far in my life, and feel extremely proud of myself for what I have been able to achieve on the way, and how hard I worked for it.

We all have that moment don’t we, no matter how big or small the achievement.  Graduating high school, getting into university, graduating university, getting a job, fighting a disease, running a marathon.  The list is endless regarding how you as an individual can feel proud of yourself.

With that in mind, think now, how many of those things you initially though are things that you wold never be able to do?

Go back to that time, when you looked at where you were, and then you looked at the goal you’ve set yourself for the future, and think “how am I going to achieve this?”.  But time passed, and you found yourself working day in and day out to achieve it and in the end, you completed it.  It became on of your many accomplishments.

Naturally, writing this down on paper is so much easier than the actual process.  it’s difficult not because the task you set yourself is too big ( I don’t think any task is too big if your heart and soul is in it), but because most of the time, you can’t actually see the progress you’re making, and worse, sometimes you feel like you’re regressing.  It’s hard because you have to motivate yourself on days you feel de-motivated, and because sometimes you have to sacrifice having a good time to what’s best for you.  But a goal is something you set for yourself because it means something to you, and that alone has a lot of strength to keep you at it.  The occasional reminder you get from your diary, or friends and family as to why you started this journey in the first place is the very energy that pushes you on.  So you stick to your plan, schedule, timeline and continue (however grudgingly) until one day, out of the blue, you realise that you’ve reached it.

All of a sudden, it’s results day and you realise that you’ve graduated and been accepted at a university or at a job, or its race day and you ran your miles and crossed the finish line.  Perhaps you’ve been battling and illness, and after the long hard battle, you’re told that you’re in remission.  All of a sudden it dawns on you in that one tiny moment that this was all possible because you tried, you fought, even though you thought it was never going to happen.  And because of that, that one tiny moment becomes one unforgettable achievement in life.

Like I said, today I was doing some self-reflection and this very thought popped in my mind.  There are many things that I have managed to do, which I thought I couldn’t.  I tried, and failed, I cried, and tried, fell many times (sometimes literally) but got back up and kept going.  All of which has allowed me to become the person I am right now.  So I am extremely grateful.

But I was also simultaneously motivated (as I hope you will be too).  There are still many things that I want to pursue, many things that I feel are just “dreams”.  But these “dreams” will hopefully turn into realistic goals, and if I take things one step at a time, will also hopefully turn into things that were dreams but then became reality.

In the end, it’s never too late to start something, and if you find what you are passionate about, it’s important not to let it go.  Know how much it means for you to achieve it, and that will make it ten times easier to keep going when the going gets tough.

Also, always, always celebrate each and every achievement you have accomplished because they are evidence to the hard work you put in.  And also, keep in mind, that goals and achievements are personal.  You don’t have to be a CEO or a multi-millionaire to consider yourself successful, because every day you lead where you wake up and did what you planned to do to take that one step forward, is in itself successful.  You make the goals, you defy your own expectation and you progress.  Own that life!

So here’s to us, everyone all around the world, working hard towards our goals. x

Letters to my Past and Future Self

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop”

– Confucius

Dear past self,

Yesterday was my birthday, and as your parents always said, to be another year older means also to be another year wiser.  From the mere 23 years I have lived, this old saying is so far proving to be true.  2 decades have passed, and I am entering into my third one, and although my life experience is still insignificant, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

First of all, life is messy.  It’s an obvious fact, but something that can be overlooked.  Everyday we plan what we want our day to be like, and yet it will never go as planned.  That is because there are things that you can control, and things you cannot control.  And while we do our best to plan and perfect the former, the latter will always come as a surprise and break the flow of our plans.  Life is messy and unpredictable, but learn to love the unpredictability and learn to love the spontaneity.  Learn that life isn’t beautiful because it is perfect, but rather, see the beauty in the imperfectness of things.  Learn that life is not about the where you are at the end, but rather about how you got there.  The process is what makes life fun, and what makes for a good story, and the process is where you have the chance to develop as a human, and improve yourself.

Second, know that there will be times when others see potential in you that you don’t see.  And when this happens, trust them.  Similarly there will be times when you see potential that others don’t see in you, in which case trust yourself.  As you grow up, you will find it harder to trust other people because you experience hurt and betrayal, but it’s so important to trust others when they support you.  Life is all about inclusion, and whatever you do, it’s always good to have support, so when you are hired for a job you never thought you’d get, or when someone you never thought would, offers you help, trust that they see something that you do not yet see in yourself.  Trust that they will help you, so long as you work hard and keep at it.  Yet more importantly, always trust yourself.  While other people may betray you, you will always be the one person who continues to support you no matter what.  Don’t lose that.  There will, quite opposite to the former situation, be times when others do not see what you see in you.  When this happens, know that only you know what you want, what you are capable of and what you are prepared to do, and so trust that belief and keep moving forward.

Always ask for help if you need it.  As scary as it might be to ask, there will always be someone who will be willing to help you out.  As the saying goes “if you don’t ask, you will never get”.

Follow your instincts.  They don’t call it a “gut feeling” for nothing.  When something feels right or wrong, follow that feeling.  Your head might be saying otherwise, but your head says a lot of unnecessary things too.  Society might say otherwise too, but really, who are you living for, them or yourself?  Most of the time, if you are drawn to something, compelled to take action, then whatever it is, probably is the right thing to do.  Even if it means jumping into the unknown, be fearless and go for it.

Which leads me to my next point; get out of your comfort zone and learn from the experience.  Know that the comfort zone is a stationary zone.  While it doesn’t make you regress, it doesn’t help you progress either.  Getting out of it, means challenging yourself, and that is when you really see what your limits are.  You’ll be surprised because more often than not, we place our limits a lot lower than it actually is.  Being out of your comfort zone will help you realise your own potential and gain confidence, because you’d be proud of yourself for getting out in the first place.  Initial impressions of things are not always the lasting ones.

And finally, keep moving forward.  Do all the above, and if things still doesn’t seem to be looking up, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Know that sometimes you can put a load of effort into something and it goes to pieces.  Life will not always be a cup half full, but it’s about how you handle the obstacles that are put in your way.  If you can get up one more time than you are knocked down, that in itself is showing strength, and life will naturally find a way to give you something you deserve as a result of it.  Don’t regret the past, learn   from it, and just keep moving forward, one step at a time.

You still have a lot to learn, a lot to improve and the whole world is your oyster.  Make the most of it because you just don’t know when things might turn around, for better or for worse.  Keep your head high and take on each challenge as it comes.  Don’t fear life, live it.

 

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Dear future self

Now to my future self, I hope you are still sticking to your values.  I hope that you are spending quality time with friends and family, and telling them how much they mean to you regularly.  I hope you are taking the time everyday to be grateful for all that you have, and all the opportunities that have come your way.

I hope you are working hard, and prioritising things well.  Hopefully you’re not putting too much strain.  Work hard, but don’t over work.  Have a break, and sleep in sometimes even though it’s what you hate the most.

I hope you are still being active and playing tennis, and reading books.  I hope you are still educating yourself because education is priceless.  I hope you are learning new skills be it languages, hobbies or what not.

Most importantly, I hope you are doing something that helps others.  I hope you give more than you are taking.  I hope you are going out in the fields and seeing the world, and still maintaining the positive faith you have in the good of the human heart.  I hope that you still have the courage to stand back up after falling, and that you are looking forward not back.  For you, the future me, is what motivates the current me, and inspires me to do the things I do.  You, the future me, is my role model and the person I look up to, so I hope you are enjoying your life, and making the most of it too.