He looked visibly perturbed. So I put my hand on his shoulder and asked “You must be clueless – isn’t it?” He nodded. I said “tell me how you are feeling?” He said “I don’t know. I really don’t.”
I said “Ok! Does it feel this way?…
“There are multiple fronts – with each of them pulling you towards it. You take care of one and the other front goes out of hand. When you begin to focus on one thing, the other things on the backburners keep disturbing. You decide priorities and then again end up surrendering to chaos – utterly exhausted!
There is always restlessness inside – to reach somewhere…to be somebody. There are always so many roles to play – each demanding your best. Everything is multilayered, and confusing. Nothing is black or white, everything is grey. There are no clear heroes, no clear villains. All mixed up!
So much…and still you are expected to retain sanity, because if you lose it, you lose all”.
Well! He looked at me in sheer astonishment, and said “How do you know all this?” I smiled, and said…“Welcome to a man’s world”!
When you are away from home – in a different city – then it’s in the evening that you begin to miss home the most.
As the sun starts to set on the horizon and darkness blends with the streetlights, you feel a certain emptiness in your gut. There are people everywhere, and yet you feel utter loneliness. The skyscrapers, billboards and flyovers only add to that feeling of ‘being lost’. You miss the familiar ‘feel and fragrance’ of your home, and effortlessness with which you blend in with the surroundings.
And then you suddenly feel an intense urge to go back to where you belong. There is an impulse to simply pack-up and leave… to go back to your own cozy place, in the company of your own people. But then you get reminded of the number of kilometers in between, and you get a sinking feeling in your heart. You bite your lip, and breathe deeply to counter that feeling of vertigo.
Eventually, you surrender to the inevitability of ‘separation from nest’ that each ‘boy and girl’ has to go through, in order to become a ‘man and woman’.
You know what! ‘Growing up’ gives you many privileges. But it takes away an important one – to stay the calf who invariably followed the cows back home.
I am a firm believer that you should work even on your average days.
And you should do so in spite of the risk that you may end up producing just ‘ordinary work’ – far from the best that ‘you are capable of’ or ‘are known for’.
And there are two reasons for that…
First, it introduces you to your average-ness which can be a really humbling and educating experience. It helps you take away that swagger from you walk and attribute your success to factors beyond your own self. It helps you appreciate significance of the process that makes you look good, and how with one missing step, your whole façade of invincibility can crumble. Yes! On such a day, you may lose face, but you will gain perspective.
Second, it helps you recruit in your repertoire the most important virtue of a professional – work ethic. Yes! For lasting success, there is nothing more significant than to ‘show up more often’. In other words, it helps you bring age-old discipline and good-old ‘sincerity’ to your pursuits. It helps you assert to your own self that ‘how you feel’ can govern ‘how well you will work’, but it cannot decide ‘whether you will work or not’.
So, go out there, and stumble your way to success. You will neither ‘look good’ nor ‘feel good’, but…it will ‘be good’ for you.
Sometimes, it is important to choose solutions which may not look elegant, but are effective.
While the river of time had already flowed way past it, inside her mind, she was still stuck on a shore. That’s why when I met her, I could sense from moment one that she is there and still isn’t there. Such people look disintegrated. There is a clear lack of congruence between their words, gestures, expressions, tone and eye-contact. Their presence looks totally…fragmented.
It turned out that she was still possessed by ghosts of a difficult phase. She had moved away but couldn’t move on. Such people become peculiar, because while they do want to break free from the past; on the other hand, by now, they have already started secretly savoring the sympathy and self-importance of being a victim.
I listened to her uninterrupted, and then articulated this observation of mine without any dilution. And then…the ice melted…the glass wall broke.
You know what! Sometimes the best way to say something is…to just say it.
Life is most agonizing for those who have to fight their demons while putting up an angelic face.
For years, I have had a rare privilege of being privy to the complex selves and cluttered minds behind the impressive personas and beautiful faces. As they open up, I can intensely feel their pain of not only living with that darker side but also of covering it up with the brighter one.
That’s why I always say that ‘most unfortunate are the ones who look normal but feel abnormal”. They bear a curse of being too civilized for their own good. Behind their ‘well-learnt words, well-timed wit and well-placed moves’ lie the tiny pores from which their insecurities peek.
They are Spider-men…
…caught in a web they have worked hard to successfully build for themselves.
Note: In this post, word ‘entrepreneur’ represents both genders. It is just that as a man, I found it more comfortable to write from my perspective, and with related pronouns.
Entrepreneurship is like licking honey from tip of a knife. Along with honey, you end up having the taste of your own blood.
Today marks the day when many years back, I conceived for the first time…I mean….we embarked on our entrepreneurial journey. And what a coincidence! The other day someone asked “Why do most of entrepreneurs don’t succeed?” And my answer was “…because we still don’t appreciate emotional-ecosystem essential for an entrepreneur”.
Let me explain what I mean by ‘emotional ecosystem’…
Well! When a man gets pregnant with an idea, his behavior is no different from that during natural pregnancy. He becomes extra sensitive. He has mood fluctuations. He becomes allergic to a few things and too fond of some others. He becomes oblivious to the world and still conscious of himself. He wants attention and becomes demanding.
He thinks of names. He gets up in the middle of the night. He becomes anxious for the safety of that ‘new life’. He tends to get insecure when he thinks what he has left for this. His self-esteem gets into a sine-wave. He becomes more attentive to other people’s brainchildren. His schedule goes for a toss. His priorities change. And the list continues…
And then he goes through labor pain; and when he delivers, there is a satisfaction of bringing a new life to the world. However, next few years are even more hectic, because what was in conception now becomes an entity in itself. So, next phase of struggle begins…
People don’t understand that just the way it is important to empathize and accommodate with a biologically pregnant person; …someone ‘pregnant with an idea’ needs the similar and equal care.
“You Only Live Once! So go for it! Kal Ho Naa Ho…”
is one line that is beautiful, creative, motivational, and also… misleading.
The other day, I overheard someone saying this line. And I so much wished I could tell him that ‘you don’t live only once’, actually “You die only once”. So there would be only one day in your life when there would be no tomorrow. Otherwise ‘Kal hoga’ – and you got to prepare for it today.
Well! That’s the problem with a lot of people. Be it a relationship or a work, these days people go into overdrive. In the desire to keep it ‘hip and happening’, people live on ‘extremes’, because peaks are appealing…fascinating…pleasurable. It is a sexy cool way to approach life; but with side-effects.
Once all the fizz is gone, they find the normalness dull and boring. They again crave for that emotional ‘high’. They want to feel alive and kicking. But when does any high last? So, then the disappointment starts. Now, the following ‘low’ feels lower than it is. And it all crumbles…
At extreme, mere pleasure lies! Real happiness can only be found in ‘balance’.
It is immensely painful when someone close doesn’t understand how you are feeling…
It is strange, isn’t it…that there are so many people in your life who don’t empathize with you in your low phase but you don’t feel that bad. And then there is someone close whose emotional-unavailability makes you feel lonely - probably because you expected that person to instinctively understand the unsaid…
Now, in order to bring that person’s attention, you begin to do all sorts of things – you either behave oddly…or stop talking…or speak indirectly…or avoid completely…or create a scene needlessly…or even go directly and plead.
Well! You eventually succeed in catching the eyeballs. But in the process, you lose your valuable self-esteem. So you start to feel even worse. Already hurt, now you are also devoid of the ‘saving grace’ that you had. As a result, you now feel weak and worthless.
And that’s when the real suffering starts.
It’s amazing how, when you are hurt, your close ones can either heal you for better or… hurt you for worse.
You fall in love with the way someone looks, smiles or talks; but you can only stay in love for the way a person thinks, behaves and listens.
In relationships, once the physics runs its course, the chemistry takes over.
Yes! During a day, as you look at each other on numerous occasions, you don’t look to appreciate the beauty of each other’s face. You look to receive feedback, approval, empathy or just that pleasurable feeling of connectedness.
In such moments, it is not ‘how that face is’ but ‘what that face shows’ that decides how you feel. Well! Those moments define the texture of your relationship – which further translates into your fulfillment level and eventually the ‘quality of your life’.
That’s when a ‘beautiful blank face’ becomes difficult to bear, or an ‘average feel-good face’ becomes simply irresistible.
Yes! In relationships, you can’t keep looking at each other. After sometime, you begin to look for something.
I can see your jaw getting stiff…your breathing getting heavier…your chest heaving…your fists tightening up…your arms flexing…your nostrils flaring…your head beginning to ache.
But then I can also see what all is there to lose…what all is there to save…what is at stake.
So stay quiet. Just take a deep breath and swallow the ripples of irritation that you can feel rising towards throat. Start thinking about something else – anything – just don’t react.
I know it is tough. But you always had a chance to walk out of this, yet you chose to stay for reasons which will sound silly to someone else but are important to you.
I can feel that the force is strong enough to make you burst at the seams, but hold on. You have already put in the hard yards…now don’t ruin all the hard work that has gone into it.
Patience boy…patience; not just because you can’t afford to fail, but also because…this too shall pass.